A Trimester of IBU Cup Racing in Scandinavia Wraps Up in Sjusjoen
by Joseph Bonacci
Up in Scandinavia, the U.S. Biathlon Team has produced impressive performances on the IBU Cup during the first trimester of racing. Following a similar schedule to the World Cup, the IBU Cup has raced in Kontiolahti, Finland, Idre Fjäll, Sweden and Sjusjoen, Norway, and is now taking a well-deserved break from racing until after the new year.
IBU Cup action kicked off in Kontiolahti, hosting an individual, sprint, mixed relay and single mixed relay. Cheresa Bouley (Zimmerman, MN/Minnesota Biathlon) started the season strong with a 49th in her first individual start and IBU Cup debut. Bouley went on to finish 59th in the sprint and 18th in the mixed relay. Michaela Keller-Miller (Plymouth, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) also made her IBU Cup debut in her first biathlon season; she did not race in the individual, but finished 74th in the sprint and 18th in the mixed relay. Lina Farra (Heber City, UT/NYSEF), back to racing after taking the previous season off, finished 63rd in the individual. Anna French (Plymouth, MN/Team Altius), in her first individual race, finished 83rd, as well as 82nd in the sprint. Grace Castonguay (Jackson, NH/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club) finished 84th in the individual, 61st in the sprint and 9th in the single mixed relay, before being pulled up to make her World Cup debut in Hochfilzen, Austria.
On the men’s side, Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT/Team Crosscut) stepped up to finish 6th in the opening individual start in Kontiolahti. Bonacci then finished 24th in the sprint and 9th in the single mixed relay with Castonguay, before being brought up to race in Hochfilzen the following weekend. Luke Brown (Saint Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) joined Bonacci in the individual top-30, landing in 28th place; he finished 63rd in the sprint and 18th in the mixed relay. Eli Nielsen (Stehekin, WA/National Guard Biathlon) finished 82nd in the individual, 54th in the sprint and 18th in the mixed relay. Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, MN/National Guard Biathlon) finished 40th in the individual and teammate Bjorn Westervelt (Stowe, VT/University of Vermont) landed 72nd in the sprint.
Idre Fjäll hosted a pair of sprint races and a pursuit. Lexie Madigan (Truckee, CA/Auburn Ski Club) and Dolcie Tanguay (Fort Kent, ME/Paul Smith’s College) made their IBU Cup debuts, Madigan finishing 84th and 75th in the sprints, while Tanguay landed 82nd and 76th. Bouley finished 65th and 61st in the sprint races, French in 70th and 64th and Farra in 68th and 67th. On the men’s side, Cervenka raced to 42nd and 58th in the sprints, Westervelt finished in 43rd and 26th, Neilsen in 66th and 42nd and Brown in 59th and 76th. In Sunday’s pursuit, Cervenka finished 33rd and Westervelt in 36th.
Rounding out the Scandinavian trimester in Sjusjoen, athletes raced in a sprint, pursuit and mass start 60. In the sprint, Bouley finished 70th, Farra in 66th, French in 76th, Cervenka in 59th and Westervelt in 31st. Cervenka and Westervelt qualified for the pursuit, but only Cervenka ended up racing, finishing 53rd. All three U.S. women qualified to race in the mass start 60 on December 16: Bouley landed in 53rd, Farra in 56th and French in 59th.
Looking ahead to trimester two, the U.S. Biathlon Team heads south to Italy for a pair of race weekends in Martell-Val Martello January 4-7 and Ridnaun-Val Ridanna January 10-13, before heading northeast to Slovakia to race in Brezno-Osrblie for Open European Championships January 24-28.