US Biathlon nominates first athletes to Olympic Team

Tim Burke

Tim BurkeLowell Bailey and Susan Dunklee are the first three 2014 U.S. Olympic biathletes.

US Biathlon nominated the three on Friday, which means they will be on the Sochi Olympic Team if approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee, as they are expected to be.

Burke, Bailey and Dunklee qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team eight months ago via World Cup results last season.

Burke and Bailey competed at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. Dunklee, 27, has not participated in the Olympics before. More U.S. Olympic biathletes will be named in December and January.

“It feels great to meet the early qualification standard for the Sochi team,” Burke said, according to a press release. “This allows me to focus all of energy on being my best at the Olympics and not worry about qualifying for the team. I look forward to a great season ahead year of training. I will do everything possible to be at my best for Sochi.”

A U.S. biathlete has never won an Olympic medal; no individual has done better than ninth. Burke, 31, is the best hope to end that drought.

Burke wore the yellow bib as the World Cup sprint leader in the month before the 2010 Olympics, but his best finish in Vancouver was 13th in the relay.

He came back to win a silver medal at the World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, in February.

The biathlon World Cup begins in Ostersund, Sweden, on Sunday.

Mikhail Prokhorov sets expectations for Russia biathlon at Sochi

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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