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NEWS | March 25, 2024

Vermont National Guard Biathletes Compete in World Cup

By Marcus Tracy, Joint Force Headquarters - Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

MIDWAY, Utah - Three Vermont National Guard Soldiers were among the Americans competing in the first International Biathlon Union World Cup hosted by the United States in five years.

Sgt. Deedra Irwin, Spc. Sean Doherty and Pfc. Maxime Germaine participated in six races March 8-10 against biathletes from across the globe in the United States, an infrequent opportunity for a U.S. biathlete.

Doherty remembers those previous races and sees a significant growth in the home crowd. 

“I was here for the World Cup five years ago also,” said Doherty. “We had a lot more fans and a lot more of a home feel.”

Doherty and the men’s relay team started the U.S. weekend with a historic performance during the Men’s 4x7.5km Relay. Doherty raced the second leg, skiing fast while avoiding penalties on the shooting range. The team was in range of the podium until a late fourth-leg penalty loop essentially pushed them out of top-three contention. Even then, they held off a strong Swedish team to finish fourth, the U.S. Biathlon’s best finish in the event since 1980.

“That was a historic performance for our men’s relay team,” said Doherty. “The relay means a lot to me, and it’s really cool to share that with everyone. I’m really proud to have been a member of that team.”

Irwin, who holds the best individual performance for an American in Olympic Biathlon, enjoyed a special moment as the races in Soldier Hollow provided a unique and exciting first for her.

“It was really incredible. It was the first time that I was able to compete in front of my family, which was just insane,” said Irwin. “It was really amazing just being able to ski up that last climb and hear such a big group of people chanting my name. It gave me a lot of motivation and energy.”

Germaine also got to celebrate a first. After bouncing between the World Cup and IBU Cup teams this year, Germaine landed his first pursuit of this World Cup season. Pursuit qualification was based on the outcome of sprint races earlier in the weekend, and all three U.S. Soldier-biathletes qualified for their respective pursuits.

“It was huge, my first pursuit of the year. It was a great note to finish on and shows we are a strong house in the USBA (United States Biathlon Association),” said Germaine.

The efforts and results of the three biathletes add a chapter to the storied history of the military and biathlon.

“Biathlon began as a military sport, and in the U.S., the partnership between the National Guard and the USBA emphasizes that historic relationship, “said Maj. Anthony Lucia, National Guard biathlon program coordinator. “Watching our athletes compete at this level is truly inspiring and exemplifies that civilian-to-military connection that still exists in the sport today.”

Doherty agreed.

“It was really cool to represent the country with that relay result, but it also means a lot to represent the Guard and all the support they have given me over the years, “Doherty said. “It’s allowed me to continue the sport as a professional.”

Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight, adjutant general of Vermont, attended the races and said he couldn’t be more proud of the biathletes.

“What they do out there is incredible; the training and determination to compete on this stage is astounding, and they truly earned this chance to represent their country with a home crowd,” said Knight.

These races and results on “home snow” bolster the efforts of the National Guard Biathlon program and breed excitement for the future.

“I think it already shows we have a lot of athletes looking at the military route into joining biathlon when trying to figure out their next step in their skiing career,” Irwin said. “I have had a lot of people asking questions and wondering how the Guard works, and I can say 100% I would not have gone to the Olympics and I would not be the biathlete I am today without the National Guard and the Army.”



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