Liberty Bell High School student Eli Nielsen has been named to U.S. biathlon team for both the 2018 Youth and Junior World Championships from Feb. 26 – March 4 in Otepää, Estonia; and for the Male Junior IBU Cup #3 and Junior Open European Championships from Jan. 31 – Feb. 4 in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Nielsen was chosen by the U.S. Biathlon International Competition Committee after the U.S. Junior/Youth World Championship Trials in Coleraine, Minnesota, in late December 2017. More than 50 athletes competed in men’s and women’s sprint races. Liberty Bell student Lazo Gitchos also competed at the trials.
On the first day of competition, Nielsen finished third in the Junior/Youth Combined Men’s 10-kilometer sprint competition. On the second day, he finished second in the Youth Men’s 7.5K sprint competition, and fourth in the Junior/Youth Combined Men’s 7.5K sprint. Gitchos finished 17th in the first-day trials and 21st on the second day.
“Eli put together two really good races, both skiing and shooting,” Methow Biathlon coach Betsy Smith said. “Lazo had some good shooting the first race and struggled somewhat the second race. He was racing up an age category and got some great experience.”
A year ago, Nielsen was also named to the World Youth and Junior Championship team to represent the United States in European competition. He was on the U.S. team competing in the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, in 2016, and was also a 2015 USA Youth and Junior Biathlon World Championship Team Trials qualifier. Nielsen is also a member of the Methow Valley Nordic Team.