Biathlon 101: Qualification & Team USA

Posted at 8:12 AM, Oct 12, 2021

There will be up to a total of 210 biathletes – 105 male, 105 female – competing at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Each nation can send up to six males and six females, and can enter a maximum of four in each event.

Using results from the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, the top three nations in the men’s and women’s World Cup Nations Cup standings will receive six maximum quota places. Nations ranked fourth through 10th in each gender will receive a maximum of five quota places. Nations ranked 11th through 20th will receive a maximum of four quota places. Other NOCs with athletes earning the necessary IBU qualifying points may be allocated up to a maximum of two quota places.

Allocations will be based on the NOC Quota List and the IBU Qualifying Points List, both of which will be published Jan. 16, 2022. The NOC Quota List is determined by the best 12 single results (Nations Cup points system) from the 2020- 2021 and 2021-2022 seasons, consisting of:

  • 6 sprint competitions • 1 individual competition • 3 relay competitions • 1 single mixed relay competition • 1 mixed relay competition
  • Athletes only are eligible for selection if they either have earned a maximum of 180 IBU qualifying points by Jan. 16, 2022, or fulfill 1 of the following
  • Athletes only are eligible for selection if they either have earned a maximum of 180 IBU qualifying points by Jan. 16, 2022, or fulfill 1 of the following

Athletes only are eligible for selection if they either have earned a maximum of 180 IBU qualifying points by Jan. 16, 2022, or fulfill 1 of the following:

  • Participated in two competitions from among the IBU Cup, European championships, world championships and/or sprint or individual races at World Cup events, earning a maximum of 150 IBU qualifying points; or
  • Earned two finishes in the top half of the Junior World Championships; or
  • Achieved one result from both the options above

Team USA

The U.S. biathlon team will be announced on or before Jan. 16, 2022.

As of April 2021, the U.S. has earned enough Nations Cup points to secure a minimum of four quota places per gender.

U.S. team selection will be based on a number of tryout events across three phases (below), with tiebreaking procedures as required:

  1. 2020-21 season World Cups and 2021 World Championships
  2. November to December 2021 World Cup events
  3. Four competitions, including two time trials (Jan. 1-4, 2022) and IBU Cup No. 4 (Jan. 8-9, 2022), with qualification based on U.S. competitions in December 2021, or athletes participating in IBU World Cups events between Dec. 6-19, 2021

Up to 50% of the team, per gender, may qualify for the Beijing Games through Phase 1 by meeting the following standards in priority order:

  1. Placement in the top six in any sprint, individual or pursuit race at the 2021 World Championships
  2. A top 30 result in the overall World Cup Final Ranking of the 2020-21 season or two top-12 finishes in World Cup and/or world championships competitions in 2020-2021, excluding relays.

If 50% is not filled through Phase 1, then qualification is possible by meeting the Phase 2 performance standard of having at least one top-20 finish in the November through December 2021 World Cups, excluding all relays.

If the spot(s) remain open, then the athlete(s) with the single highest placement from the November-December 2021 World Cup competitions will qualify for nomination to the Olympic team.

One athlete will be named at any point following Phase 2 based on discretionary criteria including:

  • Performance history over the current and previous 2 competitive seasons
  • Recent improvements in performance (in training & competition) in parameters such as skiing speed and shooting performance
  • Recent positive trend of results and performance parameters as an indicator of Olympic success, including medal potential in future Olympics and World Championships
  • Ability to contribute effectively to a relay

And the top-ranked athlete per gender – using the percent back scoring method – will qualify through the Phase 3 trials races (with the best two races of four counted).

The percent back formula = 2 – (athlete’s time / average time of the top three U.S. finishers not already nominated to the team). If only two finishers can be scored, the average of their times will be used as the denominator in the formula.

If the Olympic Quota allows for the selection of a 5th or 6th athlete, the next-ranked athletes from the Phase 3 selection races will qualify too.

NBC Olympics Research contributed to this report