Saranac Lake biathlete Annelies Cook makes Olympic team

Another local Olympic hopeful is now an Olympic definite – Annelies Cook, a 29-year-old biathlete from Saranac Lake.

As Cook skied with children this morning at Lake Placid Elementary School, U.S. Biathlon issued a press release announcing that she has made the Olympic team that will compete in February at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. It will be the first Olympics for the daughter of Dr. George Cook and Marijke Ormel.

Cook has been a member of the U.S. biathlon team since 2009 and is currently in her third season on the World Cup circuit. She posted two top-20 finishes during last winter’s World Cup season: 14th (individual) and 18th (sprint), both at the future Olympic venue in Sochi.

“I am very relieved to be named to the Olympic team; it is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid,” Cook said in a press release. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, and I think I will be most excited when the entire team is named and we can look forward to it together.”

Cook recently returned home after the first leg of this winter’s World Cup circuit.

“These past few weeks of racing were not exactly what I was hoping for, so it is really good that I can just focus on training and recovering now,” she said. “It is good to have a break and be at home for Christmas to prepare.”

Leif Nordgren of Marine, Minn. was also named to the Olympic Biathlon Team today. He and Cook join Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid, Tim Burke of Paul Smiths and Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt., whose nominations were announced in November.

Up to two male and two female biathletes – Bailey, Burke and Dunklee – were eligible to earn early nominations to the Olympic team during the 2012-13 season by gaining two top-15 finishes in World Cup or World Championship competition, or by having a top-30 overall World Cup ranking.

At least one woman and one man – Cook and Nordgren – were nominated following the December World Cups, which concluded Sunday. U.S. Biathlon will make its remaining selections for the Olympic team in January. All the nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“I am very excited to see Annelies and Leif qualify for the team,” U.S. Biathlon CEO Max Cobb said in the release. “Both have scored top 20 at the World Cup, and they both had great training this year. I am confident that all their hard work will allow them to score some personal best performances this winter and that is a very exciting prospect.”

This afternoon Cook is scheduled to be present when a trail is named for her at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, a nordic ski venue in Saranac Lake where she skied as a child.

Cook is the fourth local athlete to be nominated to the U.S. Olympic team, joining Bailey, Burke and Saranac Lake luger Chris Mazdzer.

Other locals in the running are Vermontville native Bill Demong, a nordic combined skier who won gold and silver medals in the 2010 Olympics; alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid, who won a bronze medal in the super-G event at the 2010 Olympics; and ski jumpers Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake (also a 2010 Olympian) and Nina Lussi of Lake Placid.