New Season: Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, USA, Switzerland Announce Teams
While many athletes and coaches are enjoying time off and holidays around the world, numerous federations recently announced their National Team rosters, as they prepare for the build-up to the 2017-18 BMW IBU World Cup season and the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Although most of the top level, A-teams are filled with familiar names, a few IBU Cup and development athletes have move to the top squads for the upcoming season.
Ukraine: Seven on Each Team
Ukraine trimmed their top groups to just seven on each team to allow for more one-on-one coaching. Uros Velepec and Juraj Sanitra remain as the Women’s and Men’s Head Coaches, while Oleg Merkushyn has been added as an assistant coach for the women’s squad.
Third in the IBU Nations Cup, the women’s roster is headed by their veteran 2014 Olympic Gold medal-winning relay team of Olena Pidhrushna, Juliya Dzhyma, Vita and Valja Semerenko. They will be joined by Anastasiya Merkushyna, Olga Abramova and Irina Varvynets. The men’s team, sixth in the IBU Nations Cup includes Sergey Semenov, Dmytro Pidruchnyi, Artem Pryma, Artem Tyshchenko, Ruslan Tkalenko, Vladimir Semakov and Alexander Zhyrnyi.
Russia: Veterans and IBU Cup Standouts
The Russian men’s roster is filled with veterans, including World Cup Total Score runner-up Anton Shipulin, Evgeny Garanichev, and IBU Cup total Score winner Alexey Volkov plus youngsters Maxim Tsvetkov, Anton Babikov and Matvey Eliseev. In addition to this group, Alexander Loginov and Yury Shopin who spent most of the season on the IBU Cup now are in the main training group coached by Ricco Gross and Andrei Padin. As in the past, Shipulin and Volkov will train apart from the main team, with personal coaches.
The women’s team will be strengthened by the return of 2015 World Champion Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht, who skipped last season after the birth of her daughter. She joins new star Tatiana Akimova, Olga Podchufarova, Irina Uslugina and Victoria Slivko. Moving up from the IBU Cup are Irina Starykh, young Svetlana Mironova and IBU Cup Total Score Winner Daria Virolaynen. The women’s coaches have not been announced as of this time.
Sweden: Looking Forward with Bigger Teams, IBU Rookies
2017 IBU Rookies of the Year Sebastian Samuelsson and Hanna Öberg are among the fourteen named to the Swedish A teams, which are bigger this season. According to Head Coach Wolfgang Pichler, “We made the change because several athletes made great progress this past season; now we can create more competition in our training sessions.” Joining Samuelsson are Fredrik Lindström, Peppe Femling, Torstein Stenersen, Jesper Nelin, Tiio Söderhielm, and Martin Ponsiluoma. In addition to Öberg, the women’s team includes, Mona Brorsson, Emma Nilsson, Linn Persson, Anna Magnusson, plus Chardine Sloof and Olga Alifiravets.
Bailey and Dunklee Head US Teams
IBU World Champion Lowell Bailey and IBU WCH Silver medalist Susan Dunklee head the US teams that just completed their most successful season ever. Both had personal-best seasons: Bailey finished 8th in the World Cup total Score while Dunklee finished 10th. Besides Bailey, Tim Burke, 2016 IBU World Junior Champion Sean Doherty, Leif Nordgren and newcomer Paul Schommer are on the men’s team. The four women on the team are Dunklee, Clare Egan, Maddy Phaneuf, and Emily Dreissigacker.
Switzerland: Four to National Team, Joller Retires
Two men and two women earned top spots on the Swiss team for the new season. Benjamin Weger and Serafin Wiestner landed the top men’s spots while Olympic Silver medalist Selina Gasparin and Lena Haecki earned the women’s top honors. The men’s A group includes Mario Dolder, Jeremy Finello and Martin Jäger, with Eligius Tambornino on the B group The women’s B group has Aita and Elisa Gasparin, Susi Meinen, and Irene Cadurisch.
Olympian Joller Retires
Missing from the teams is 33-year-old Ivan Joller, who spent the last two seasons on the IBU Cup circuit. Joller’s long career started with the 2002 IBU Junior World Championships and included two top 10 World Cup results, both in the 20K individual and ironically both in pre-Olympic World Cups in Vancouver and Sochi. Joller, a 2014 Olympian ended his career at the IBU Cup last month in Otepää.
Announcements from other teams will be coming in the next weeks, before the new training season starts.