Vail skier Marcus Gore, 17, makes U.S. Biathlon development team | VailDaily.com

Vail skier Marcus Gore, 17, makes U.S. Biathlon development team

VAIL — The U.S. Biathlon team has already announced their 2018-19 team nominations, and there is a local athlete on the list.

Indeed, Eagle County ski and shooting fans now have an athlete to watch as 17-year-old Marcus Gore will join the U.S. Biathlon Junior Development Team in 2018-19, in what promises to be a rebuilding year for the program.

Gore is a junior at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and was the national champion in the under-19 biathlon category in 2017-18. He trains 11 months per year, taking April off and starting again last week.

"He didn't join us for our family vacation so he could train," Theron Gore, Marcus' father, said on Monday, May 7.

Theron Gore said Marcus Gore competed first in alpine skiing, then in Nordic before discovering biathlon. He discovered the sport in the same way as many young Nordic skiers in the West, through the West Yellowstone biathlon clinics hosted by Marc Sheppard.

"We're not Nordic skiers or biathletes," Theron said of the Gore family. "But Marcus did a try-it biathlon series up there a couple years in a row and saw that he had a talent for it."

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'ON THE TRACK'

Through the West Yellowstone clinics, Marcus Gore was able to connect with Rob Rosser, a former Olympian and U.S. Biathlon's Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator.

"That's what got him on the track," Theron Gore said.

The next stop on that track is U.S. Biathlon's Development Team, but just what that development team experience will entail is still unclear for the Gores. One thing Theron Gore is pretty sure of, however, is it will continue to involve a lot of travel and dedication from Marcus Gore and his parents.

"He goes to all the competitions, big and small," Theron Gore said.

Marcus Gore said he got some help from his teachers, in addition to his parents.

"This year was challenging to balance skiing and school," he said. "I'm not sure how this would be possible without a school like VSSA."

The Gores spent three weeks in Minnesota this season, with Marcus Gore competing in important competitions there.

At the North American Biathlon Rollerski Championships held in Jerico, Vermont, every August, the Gores have been attending with Rosser and athletes from the Rocky Mountain region. Now as a member of the development team, Marcus Gore will likely attend with the national team coaches instead.

"There are a lot of other guys who could have been chosen," Marcus Gore said. "I'm honored to be selected for the team."

Theron Gore said the skiing portion of Marcus' competitions caught the attention of the team. In addition to the dedication shown by Marcus Gore, "the credit goes to Dan (Weiland) and Eric (Pepper) at Ski Club Vail, and all the training," Theron Gore said.

NEW TEAM, COACHES

Four-time Olympian Tim Burke was recently hired as the main interface between U.S. Biathlon, regional coordinators such as Rosser and local programs such as Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

Burke starts May 21 as athlete development manager with U.S. Biathlon.

"Burke will be responsible for leading efforts to increase the quality of training and performance for developing athletes and clubs across the U.S., including youth and junior elite athletes, post-collegiate athletes, and existing and aspiring coaches and program leaders," U.S. Biathlon wrote in a press release. "Just a month after retiring from a two-decade-long career that saw him wear the yellow bib and win a world championship silver medal, Burke is motivated by the opportunity before him."

Burke said the new role will be a chance for him to pay it forward with athletes such as Gore.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to pass on the knowledge that I gained during my biathlon career," he said. "As an athlete, you are often quite focused on your own training and racing schedule … I am motivated to get more athletes involved with biathlon and to give those athletes everything necessary to reach their full potential."

Burke retired from his Olympic career to follow in the footsteps of former Head Coach of Development Jean Paquet. Burke was joined in retirement by Russell Currier and Lowell Bailey, longtime staples of the U.S. Biathlon team.

"It's kind of a brand new team right now, with some new coaches as well, so it's an exciting time for Marcus to join," Theron Gore said. "It's a young team and they're looking toward the future."