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Seventh for Germain, Eight U.S. Athletes Qualify for Pursuit in Obertilliach

by Sara Donatello

Maxime Germain (Chamonix-Mont Blanc, FRA/National Guard Biathlon) raced to a season-best seventh place in the men’s 10km sprint to open the IBU Cup weekend in Obertilliach, Austria. Germain, cleaning his prone and missing just one target in standing, crossed the finish line just two seconds back from Germany’s David Zobel and a spot in the flower ceremony. 

“It’s satisfying doing well in a race, but it’s even more satisfying when everyone does well,” said Germain. “It brings a really good momentum for the team!”

Germain’s time was +1.08.6 behind the sprint victor, Mats Overby of Norway, who shot clean. Overby was joined on the podium by Norwegian teammates Sindre Fjellheim Jorde and Sverre Dahlen Aspenes. Germain’s seventh place rewrote his season best individual 10th place finish in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia at the 2024 Open European Championships last month.   

All five U.S. men raced to a top-41 result, qualifying them all for Saturday’s pursuit, a first this season. Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, MN/National Guard Biathlon) skied to 25th with a pair of misses. Travis Cooper (Kenai, AK/National Guard Biathlon) and Nikolas Burkhart (Olympic Valley, CA/Team Crosscut) both raced to season-best results, Cooper in 28th and Burkhart in 37th. Luke Brown (St. Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) produced a 41st place finish, his best individual result since the IBU Cup season opener in Kontiolahti, Finland. 

The women’s team followed suit in the women’s 7.5km sprint, producing two season best results and qualifying three of the four athletes for Saturday’s pursuit. Jackie Garso (Lake Clear, NY/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) led the charge with a season-best 46th place with just two misses in prone. Grace Castonguay (Jackson, NH/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club) skied to 56th with four misses on the day. Lina Farra (Heber City, UT/NYSEF) clinched a spot in the pursuit in 59th. Though she fell just out of pursuit contention, Michaela Keller-Miller (Plymouth, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) raced to a season-best 65th in what is only her fifth career biathlon race, having taken up the sport as a part of U.S. Biathlon’s Project X program last year. 

“It was a great day for the team,” said U.S. Biathlon Coach Mike Gibson. “I’m really proud of how our team battled through some soft and wet skiing conditions - especially in the women’s race. Heavy fog rolled in during the men’s race, and our guys displayed some excellent composure despite the challenge. I’m really looking forward to the pursuit!”

Racing in Obertilliach will resume on Saturday, March 2 with the men’s 12.5km pursuit kicking off at 4:30 ET/10:30 CET, followed by the women’s 10km pursuit at 7:15 ET/1:15 CET. For information on how to watch, visit Spectator resources can be found at