The U.S. could see an end to a 58-year medal drought in the international sport that blends cross-country skiing and target shooting
The sport, which evolved from the Nordic military patrol, debuted in the 1960 Winter Olympics and, while the U.S. has doggedly sent teams to compete at every installment of the international games since then, they have never brought home a medal. However, with an experienced 10-member team tapped to represent the Red, White, and Blue, the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea could make history.
“We will see the strongest American biathlon team ever going into the Games,” Bernd Eisenbichler, chief of the sport for the U.S., told NBC Sports. “It’s absolutely clear our goal is to win the first American biathlon medal. We will have a chance every single race. I am absolutely certain and sure we will get this medal.”
Besides the German-born Eisenbichler and a host of renowned international coaches, the cash-strapped team is staffed with multiple prior Olympians including Lowell Bailey who earned a historic gold medal at last year’s IBU World Championships. Meanwhile, on the Women’s team, Susan Dunklee picked up a silver in last year’s championships, another historic first for U.S. biathletes.
The first biathlon event, the Women’s 7.5 km sprint, will be televised on NBC Saturday morning with following ski-borne shooting contests running almost every day through Feb. 23, when the Men’s 4×7.5 km relay airs. The events will also be available via live-streaming at NBCOlympics.com.