Spc. Deedra Irwin, a human resources specialist with 86th Troop Command, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Vermont Army National Guard, fires a Biathlon rifle during a practice session at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vt., on Nov. 2, 2021. Irwin, a native of Pulaski, Wis., competed in the 2021 Biathlon World Championship and is on Team USA’s 2021-2022 National A Team.
Making her first Olympic appearance, Vermont Army National Guard Spec. Deedra Irwin finished with the best performance ever by a U.S. Olympic biathlete.
Irwin finished seventh in the women’s 15-kilometer individual event on Monday, 1 minute and 1.4 seconds behind gold medalist Denise Herrmann of Germany.
“I was trying to focus on just working on everything I’ve worked on this week, really skiing the course well and staying calm on the range and being ready for anything — with wind or whatever,” Irwin said.
“I had a good game plan, and I was able to execute it. Everything came together. I had no idea how I was doing, and I was just in my zone, and it worked — what the heck.”
Vermont Army National Guard Spec. Sean Doherty was part of the quartet finishing seventh in the biathlon mixed relay on Saturday. Doherty and teammates Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan and Paul Schommer tied for the best finish ever by a U.S. team in the event; Team USA also finished seventh in the mixed relay in the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Doherty needed just one spare in prone and cleaning standing and had the fastest time in the field for the third leg of the relay, finishing in 53.8 seconds of range time.
“The focus was all on the target and I came out there and I was like ‘Let’s see how fast we can get this last lap done.’ It was fun to have made that great stage and make those shots count,” Doherty said.
In Tuesday’s men’s 20K individual biathlon, Doherty finished 42nd overall and fellow Vermont Army National Guard Spec. Leif Nordgren placed 87th.
Army Sgt. Emily Sweeney, who broke her neck and back in a crash in the 2018 Winter Olympics, crashed again — but with less severe circumstances — on Feb. 7 in Beijing.
Sweeney was in 10th place after her first run in the luge but crashed in Turn 13 on her second run.
“If you’re not correct coming out, the track dips away and you’re weightless a little bit,” Sweeney said. “So, if you’re crooked a little bit in your sled or you’re not in a great spot, it’ll get you.”
Sweeney was in 26th place after her third run; only the top 20 advanced to the fourth run.
Army Spc. Ben Loomis placed 15th overall in the first day of Nordic combined competition on Wednesday.