Russell Currier is an Olympian again.
The 30-year-old Stockholm native and 2006 Caribou High School graduate was one of the final two men named Saturday night to the U.S. Olympic biathlon team following their efforts at two weekends of International Biathlon Union competition in Europe.
“I’m excited,” Currier said in an email from Germany on Sunday morning. “The atmosphere of the Olympics is what makes it so different from any world championships or World Cup events. Every four years our sport exists beyond Europe, and it’s always nice to have North American support.”
Currier and Leif Nordgren of Marine, Minnesota, both veterans of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, were selected to join Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid, New York; Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, New York; and Sean Doherty of Center Conway, New Hampshire, among the five men on the 10-member U.S. contingent that will compete in the biathlon next month at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
All five men have previous Olympic experience, with Bailey, Burke and Doherty qualifying for this year’s games based on their World Cup performances in December.
The five women on the U.S. team, including Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth, were selected earlier this winter based on their World Cup efforts.
The men’s final picks originally were scheduled to be announced Monday but were released Saturday after three Americans — Currier, Erickson and Paul Schommer of Appleton, Wisconsin, competed in a 10-kilometer IBU Cup 5 race earlier in the day.
Currier, Erickson, Schomer and Jake Ellingson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, spent the last two weeks competing at IBU Cup events in Breznouo-Orsblie, Slovakia, and Arber, Germany.
Each competitor’s top two finishes from what turned out to be three races figured into the final selections, with Erickson scoring two firsts and Currier a first and a second to lead the way.
On Jan. 6, Currier’s best race in that series was a 14th-place finish with clean shooting in the first event at the IBU Cup 4 in Slovakia, a 7.5-kilometer sprint.
“That race was close to everything I wanted,” he said. “I knew the shooting was there, but the stress of trials added an extra element. It was a good confidence booster to prove that I could perform under pressure even if it was only one day. In this sport, that’s often enough.”
Currier finished second among the Americans the next day in another sprint race in Slovakia, then placed third among the Americans on Saturday in a 10-kilometer event in Germany as part of IBU Cup 5.
“I was never overconfident after the first race [in Slovakia], he said. “I never felt relaxed enough to try anything that wasn’t in my control. Anything is possible and I wasn’t about to risk it with this opportunity.”
Currier has competed in four top-tier IBU World Cup events overall during his career, with his top performance a sixth-place finish in 2012.
His best effort in three events at the Sochi Olympics was 49th in the 20-kilometer individual race.
“It’s not uncommon for athletes in biathlon to measure time in Olympic four-year cycles,” Currier said. “There are races every season from November to March, but the four-year increment is pretty standard.
“After Sochi I was confident I could put together another good season four years later.”
Currier and the rest of the U.S. contingent will remain in Europe until heading to South Korea for the Winter Olympics, which run Feb. 9-25.
“It’s a 10-hour flight and six time zones,” Currier said. “We’re expected to be at our top level for the Olympics so a trip home couldn’t possibly work well for that.”
The first men’s biathlon event at the PyeongChang Games is the 10-kilometer sprint scheduled for 6:15 a.m. Feb. 11.
The first women’s biathlon event at the Winter Olympics is the 7.5-kilometer sprint scheduled for 6:15 a.m. Feb. 10.
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