US Biathlon National Championships Returns to Lake Placid
by Sara Studebaker-Hall
Clare Egan at the finish of the Women’s Pursuit race. Photo: Danny Wild
Lake Placid, NY: Site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, has had a biathlon drought since the 2004 World Cup event was held there. In the interim some extensive renovations have taken place. The US Biathlon National Championships returned to the venue March 25-27, 2022 to hold the first National-level event on the new range. The event served as the test event for the 2023 World University Games which will be held January 12-22, 2023 and over 190 competitors toed the line to make it the biggest National Championships in US Biathlon history.
The huge number of competitors spanned age groups from unofficial U13 class to Senior Veteran II (age 70+) class. Conditions were challenging, throwing everything mother nature had at athletes over the three days of competitions. In spite of the challenges, though, it was great to celebrate the end of season together. Inclusion of a new relay format on the last day was especially fun - athletes formed teams within and across clubs for a 2 or 3 person relay (depending on the age group), giving Youth and Junior athletes the opportunity to race together with their World Cup idols.
In addition to being a great culmination of the Olympic season, the event had not been able to take place in 2020 due to Covid-19 and was much scaled down in 2021 without National Team attendance. With several top athletes retiring this season, it was a special time for many as the final races of their careers.
Hallie Grossman at the finish of the Women’s Pursuit race. Photo: Danny Wild
“It was wonderful to see so many people racing as well as spectating,” said retiring athlete, Hallie Grossman. “It is amazing to see how much the sport has grown since I started competing!”
“I’m truly thankful to all that USBA has done for me in my career and I’m so excited to see what the youngsters can do in the years to come,” added National Team athlete, Leif Nordgren, who is retiring after a long career including three Olympic Games.
Leif Nordgren competes during the Men’s Pursuit race. Photo: Danny Wild
Though a few top athletes were missing due to illness (most notably retiring World Championship multi-silver medalist Susan Dunklee), the event had a great community feel. US Biathlon sent the retiring athletes in attendance off in style, awarding them plaques thanking them for their hard work and dedication, and saying a few words for each. While tears could be seen as the biathlon family said goodbye for now to these athletes, it seems they won’t get too far away.
“Good luck to all my teammates in the season to come, I’ll be watching.” said Nordgren.
Retiring athletes and USBA staff and Board Members at the Awards Ceremony. Front row L-R: Max Durtschi, Hallie Grossman, Maddie Phaneuf, Clare Egan, Leif Nordgren, Danika Frisbie (USBA Sport Program Manager), Max Cobb (USBA President & CEO). Back row L-R: Art Stegen (USBA Board Secretary), Phyllis Jalbert (USBA Board Treasurer), Lowell Bailey (USBA Director of High Performance), Tim Burke (USBA Director of Athlete Development), Sara Studebaker-Hall (USBA Director of Operations).
Photo: Danny WildNationals Results - Bullitt Timing
Lake Placid FIS COC & Biathlon National Championships (3h 52m) -YouTube