Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan are first athletes to qualify for 2022 U.S. Olympic team

Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan
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Biathletes Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan became the first Americans to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday.

Dunklee and Egan earned their places on the Olympic team as the lone U.S. female biathletes to earn multiple individual top-12 World Cup or world championships finishes this season.

Egan was the lone U.S. woman to qualify for the remaining races at this weekend’s World Cup Finals, making it impossible for another American to overtake either her or Dunklee for Olympic qualification this early.

No U.S. male biathlete has earned multiple top-12 finishes this season, though it’s still possible at this weekend’s World Cup Finals.

The rest of the U.S. Olympic biathlon team — expected to be at least four athletes per gender — will be determined next season.

Dunklee, 35 and the most successful U.S. female biathlete in history, qualified for her third Olympics. Her best individual Olympic finish is 11th. She is the lone U.S. female biathlete with an individual world championships medal — silvers in 2017 and 2020.

Biathlon is the lone current Winter Olympic sport in which the U.S. hasn’t earned an Olympic medal for either gender.

Egan, a 33-year-old with a master’s degree in linguistics who speaks at least six languages, qualified for her second Olympics. Her top individual finish at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games was 61st. She is the top-ranked U.S. female biathlete for the second time in three years, placing 36th in the overall World Cup standings.

The U.S. will ultimately qualify more than 200 athletes across all sports for the Winter Olympics in Beijing with the rest of the team expected to be named next fall and winter.

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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.

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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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