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Biathlon 101: Qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Biathlete in tucked skiing position at 2014 Sochi Olympics
USA TODAY Sports

Biathlon 101: Qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Many nations know how many biathletes they'll take to PyeongChang, the only question now is to whom they'll hand the rifle and skis

Olympic qualification for biathlon began on November 25, 2016 in Beitostolen, Norway. In total, 230 biathletes, 115 per gender, will compete in PyeongChang.
 
Countries earned spots for athletes in the Olympic Winter Games through competing in International Biathlon Union (IBU) events. Based on the men’s and women’s IBU World Cup Nations Cup final standings at the end of the 2016/2017 season, published on March 20, 2017, 218 quota places have already been awarded to the nations listed below. A maximum of six team spots are handed out, with up to four athletes allowed to compete in a single event.  Teams with enough athletes are allowed one relay entry per nation in the three relay events.

IBU 2016/2017 World Cup Nations Cup rankings and Olympic Winter Games quota allocation by gender

Men Quota Places Women Quota Places
 Germany  6  Germany  6
 France  6  France  6
 Russia  6  Ukraine  6
 Norway  6  Czech Republic  6
 Austria  6  Italy  6
 Ukraine  5  Norway  5
 Czech Republic  5  Russia  5
 Italy  5  Sweden  5
 Switzerland  5  Belarus  5
 United States  5  Kazakhstan  5
 Bulgaria  5  Switzerland  5
 Sweden  5  Poland  5
 Canada  5  Austria  5
 Belarus  5  United States  5
 Kazakhstan  5  Finland  5
 Slovakia  5  Canada  5
 Slovenia  5  Slovakia  5
 Romania  5  Japan  5
 Estonia  5  Bulgaria  5
 Finland  5  Korea  5
 Latvia  2  Slovenia  2
 Lithuania  2  Lithuania  2

Individual athletes must gain the right to participate at the Olympic Winter Games under IBU rules. Each athlete amasses a point total under the IBU qualifying point system at the conclusion of World Cup races. If an athlete finishes first in an event, they are awarded no points, but point totals increase the further down the final result list an athlete’s name appears. To become eligible for PyeongChang, a biathlete must have amassed no more than 180 IBU qualifying points during either the 2016/2017 or 2017/2018 IBU season. If a biathlete competes in two events at an IBU Cup, Open European Championships, World Championships or World Cup and earns no more than 150 IBU qualifying points they are eligible to race in PyeongChang.

The 2017/2018 IBU World Cup season kicks off on November 24, 2017. Athletes competing for nations with quota places, but have not met the Olympic qualification criteria, can become eligible for the Olympic Winter Games through January 21, 2018. The final point list prior to the Olympic Winter Games will be published on January 22, 2018, one day after the conclusion of the sixth IBU World Cup event of the 2017/2018 season. The final point list will determine which countries and athletes will be given the last quota places for PyeongChang.

Team USA's best biathletes

For the U.S. Biathlon team, two athletes have already qualified for Team USA through early qualification procedures. Lowell Bailey and Susan Dunklee both qualified for PyeongChang at the 2017 IBU World Championships. A fourth place finish in the men's 10km sprint qualified Bailey for PyeongChang, who went on to win gold in the 20km individual event five days later in a historic Worlds for Team USA.

It was the first world championship win ever for the United States in biathlon. For her part, Dunklee finished sixth in the 15km individual event, locking down her spot on Team USA. Under U.S. Biathlon qualification rules, a top six finish at Worlds in an individual race qualifies an athlete for the U.S. Olympic Team.

PyeongChang represents Bailey's fourth trip to the Olympics, and Dunklee's second.

Susan Dunklee’s historic silver caps incredible biathlon worlds for U.S.

Susan Dunklee becomes latest rising star for for U.S. Biathlon at world championships with silver win in the mass start

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More U.S. biathletes will look for automatic bids to Team USA when the 2017/2018 IBU World Cup season kicks off. Up to two athletes, per gender, can make the U.S. team by competing in the first three IBU World Cup events held between November 24 and December 17, 2017. A top 30 finish in one of these events will win an athlete a spot on Team USA. If no athlete meets this criteria, the two best finishes by an athlete of each gender from the 2017 World Cup events will qualify for nomination to the U.S. Olympic Team.

Athletes unable to make Team USA at the 2017 IBU World Cup competitons can try again at two January 2018 events of the IBU Cup – the second tier IBU circuit for biathlon athletes. A U.S. Biathlon trial series will be held prior to the IBU Cup – before the end of December 2017 – where up to three men and three women can qualify to compete in the IBU Cup events. U.S. Biathlon will use a best two out of three or four races scoring method to determine if athletes make the Olympic team in one of the IBU Cups.

Any remaining U.S. Olympic Biathlon team spots will be filled at the discretion of the U.S. Biathlon International Competition Committee (ICC). Visit the U.S. Biathlon website for complete athlete selection procedures for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.

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Get ready for biathlon at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games

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