Stockholm native Russell Currier had two solid runs during an International Biathlon Union competition in Slovakia over the weekend in his effort to earn a spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.
Currier was among four Americans taking part over the weekend in IBU Cup 4 at Brezno-Orsblie, Slovakia; the four also will compete this weekend at IBU Cup 5 in Arber, Germany. They are trying to qualify for the Winter Olympics that will run Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
One of the four will qualify for the U.S. Olympic team based on the athletes’ best two results from four total races and will join Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Sean Doherty, who already have been nominated to the five-man U.S. team based on performances in previous World Cup events.
The final slot will be a discretionary pick by U.S. Biathlon and the U.S. OIympic Committee, but it’s believed these two IBU competitions will weigh heavily on that selection.
Currier, the only Mainer to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was the top American in the first of two 10-kilometer sprints during the Slovakia event. Aided by a perfect shooting score, the 2006 Caribou High School graduate finished 14th overall among 106 finishers and was just 1 minute, 1.1 seconds behind race winner Simon Fourcade of France (25:10.8).
Paul Schommer of Appleton, Wisconsin, was second among the U.S. contingent and 26th overall, at 1:26.4 behind the winner with no shooting penalties. Leif Nordgren of Marine, Minnesota, was 32nd, at 1:39.8 with two shooting penalties, while Jake Ellingson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, was 61st with two misses.
Currier followed that up Sunday by placing 27th overall and second among the Americans. Despite three shooting penalties, he was timed just 1:43 behind race winner Vegard Gjermundshaug of Norway (25:21.5 with one miss).
Nordgren was the top American in the field, at 15th overall among the 102 finishers and 1:11.6 behind Gjermundshaug with one miss. Ellingson (48th, 2:31.8 behind with one miss) and Schommer (49th, 2:32.7 behind with one miss) rounded out the U.S. squad.
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