It is Rocky Mountain Rifle Championship week at USA Shooting headquarters and if the last three Olympic quads tell us anything, it means someone competing at this event will go on to great Olympic success later this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Competition in the five Olympic rifle disciplines starts Wednesday with Men’s and Women’s Air and Prone Rifle events. The event concludes Sunday with the final shots of the Men’s & Women’s Air Rifle match. With over 55 participants including competitors from six countries, the competition should be intense.
The past three pre-Olympic Rocky Mountain Rifle Championships has included a competitor that would go on to win an Olympic medal. There’s a good chance that streak won’t end this time around given the quality of competition that includes three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey), 2012 Olympian and world No. 1-ranked prone shooter Michael McPhail (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Darlington, Wisconsin) along with 2012 Olympians Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts) and Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington).
Ten USA Shooting National Championship medalists from 2015 are competing including all three in every event but Women’s Air Rifle with silver medalist Virginia Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) absent due to her collegiate obligations as a freshman standout at West Virginia University. Athletes will be using this match to help prepare for the start of the 2016 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup season that kicks-off March 1 in Bangkok, Thailand.
International challengers have arrived in Colorado Springs ahead of the competition to get their Olympic prep started and to provide plenty of resistance for the U.S. team including Niccolo Campriani, Italy’s double medalist from London 2012. Also competing is Valeria Sauveplane of France, a five-time World Cup medalist and two-time Olympian. On the women’s side, Italy’s Petra Zublasing will be a force as the reigning Air Rifle World Champion and eight-time World Cup medalist.
U.S. Paralympic quota earners will also participate including McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Washington), Tammy Delano (Rome, New York), John Joss (USAMU/Corsicana, Texas) and Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston, Texas). Paralympic Rifle athletes began their World Cup season in late January with Almlie-Ryan and Dahl participating in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. They’ll use this match to prep for the next IPC World Cup also in Bangkok, March 14-19.