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08.12.2023, Hochfilzen, Austria (AUT): Grace Castonguay (USA) - IBU World Cup Biathlon, sprint women, Hochfilzen (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © Manzoni/NordicFocus.

News

Team USA Looks to Bounce Back in Lenzerheide

by Joseph Bonacci

After a hard-fought weekend of World Cup action in Hochfilzen, Austria, the U.S. Biathlon Team is now looking ahead to racing in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The upcoming weekend will feature a sprint, pursuit and the first mass start of the season.


In Hochfilzen, Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, WI/Army World Class Athlete Program) pushed herself to a solid 49th place in Friday’s sprint, only missing two shots in standing, and finishing +2.12.7 behind the leader to claim a spot in the pursuit. Jackie Garso (Lake Clear, NY/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished her second sprint of the season in 84th and Grace Castonguay (Jackson, NH/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club) landed in 86th in her World Cup debut. 


“Last week was very special,” said Castonguay. “Racing in the World Cup has been the dream ever since I started biathlon. I was totally unprepared for the energy of the crowd and the atmosphere, it’s so different from the IBU Cup. I finished the race buzzing from all the energy.”


In Saturday’s pursuit, Irwin managed to move up four places to cross the line in 45th, missing three of the twenty targets. Unfortunately, the women’s team did not start the relay, prioritizing health and recovery for the upcoming races. 


Jake Brown (Saint Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) had the top result of the weekend, finishing in 41st, +2.05.1 behind the leaders with just two missed shots. Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT/Team Crosscut), in his first World Cup of the season, finished 72nd also with two misses. Maxime Germain (Chamonix-Mont Blanc, FRA/National Guard Biathlon) skied well in the sprint, but five missed shots dropped him to 85th and out of the running for the pursuit. 


“I was pleased with the sprint: I had great skis from the techs and buried myself on the last lap to try to get the team some nations cup points,” Brown commented. “Two bummer misses in standing threw me out of a great race.” 


Although Brown was able to clean his last round of shooting, his five misses bumped him down to 46th in the pursuit. Sunday’s men’s relay team struggled to build momentum, with Germain and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, NH/National Guard Biathlon) each having to do two penalty laps, dropping the team out of contention. 


Heading into the next World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the team looks to bounce back and end the trimester on a high note. This is the first time Lenzerheide will play host to an IBU World Cup, which is sure to make for an exhilarating atmosphere for the upcoming sprint, pursuit and mass start races.


Irwin, Garso, Castonguay and Kelsey Dickinson (Winthrop, WA/Craftsbury Green Racing Project), who missed out on racing in Hochfilzen due to illness, will make up the women’s team. On the men’s side Doherty, Brown and Bonacci will be joined by Campbell Wright (Wanaka, NZL/U.S. Biathlon) who will swap places with Germain for the upcoming weekend. 


“I am really looking forward to racing in Lenzerheide this week,” added Castonguay. “I raced this course last year at Open European Championships, so with my prior experience on this race course, some better race prep, and being less awestruck after doing one World Cup, I think it will be a good week of racing!”


Roland Arena in Lenzerheide features a course with two long climbs, one at the beginning and another in the middle of the lap. With a long descent into the stadium before each shoot, we may see the athletes push harder on the climb with the guaranteed recovery zone before the range. Live streams can be found at eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/. Spectator resources for the season can be found at usbiathlon.org/spectator-resources. 


World Cup 3 - Lenzerheide, Switzerland

December 14

Women’s 7.5km Sprint 8:15 EST/ 2:15 CET

December 15

Men’s 10km Sprint 8:15 EST/ 2:15 CET

December 16

Women’s 10km Pursuit 6:45 EST/ 12:45 CET

Men’s 12.5km Pursuit 8:40 EST/ 2:40 CET

December 10

Women’s 12.5km Mass Start 6:30 EST/ 12:30 CET

Men’s 15km Mass Start 8:45 EST/ 2:45 CET

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