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OLYMPIC NOTES

Biathlete cedes her place on US team to twin

Sister’s gesture is right on target

Tracy Barnes (left) watched her twin sister Lanny Barnes take aim near Molas Pass after a morning workout.

AP/File

Tracy Barnes (left) watched her twin sister Lanny Barnes take aim near Molas Pass after a morning workout.

What made Tracy Barnes’s giving her place on the US Olympic biathlon team to 32-year-old twin sister Lanny such a generous gesture was the likelihood that it was Tracy’s last chance to compete in the Games after just missing the 2010 squad.

“I was like, ‘Tracy, there’s no way,’ ” Lanny said. “ ‘This is your spot. You earned this.’ ”

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Tracy thought otherwise. If Lanny hadn’t been sick and missed three of the final four qualifying events in Italy, she likely would have outpointed her sister.

“She is having a stellar year,” Tracy said, “and I for one want to see where she can take it.”

While neither sister figured to come close to a medal, Tracy felt that Lanny, who has competed in two Games, deserved a final shot at the podium.

“If you care about a person, you will make any sacrifice for them,” she said. “Even if it means giving up your dreams so that they can realize theirs.”

Said Lanny, “She is my hero, and this only shows true selflessness and the Olympic spirit.”

Also making their third teams are Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke, while Dartmouth grad Sara Studebaker qualified for her second.

Four New Englanders will be making their five-ringed debuts in biathlon: Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine), Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.), and Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt,), whose parents Dick and Judy both were Olympic rowers.

Amid the talk that the men could win the first US Olympic medal in the ski-and-shoot sport, Dunklee put down a marker at last week’s World Cup in Italy, missing a sprint medal by only six-10ths of a second. It was only the third time that an American woman had cracked the top four.

Sharp skates

The Russian women left a calling card at last weekend’s European Figure Skating Championships in Budapest as 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia (the youngest-ever champion), 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova, and Alena Leonova finished 1-2-4 around Italian five-time champion Carolina Kostner. It was the first time the Motherland won the title since Irina Slutskaya did it in 2006. Spain’s Javier Fernandez retained his men’s laurels ahead of Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov, leaving Russia’s selectors with a dilemma since Maxim Kovtun, the teenager who won the national title this month, finished fifth. Originally, the choice for the sole spot appeared to be between Kovtun and 31-year-old Evgeni Plushenko, the three-time Olympic medalist and former champion who hasn’t competed since having back surgery last year. Plushenko, whose form was evaluated during a closed-door session Tuesday, said his performance was “really great” after he landed two quadruple jumps and a couple of triple axels. The federation will make its choice Thursday . . . With dancers Meryl Davis-Charlie White and Madison Chock-Evan Bates and the pair of Marissa Castelli-Simon Shnapir all headed to Olympus, none of last year’s US medalists will be competing at this week’s Four Continents Championships in Taipei City. The top American hopes ride with Adam Rippon, the last Yank to win the title in 2010, plus former medalist Mirai Nagasu.

Ladies night

While the total attendance (108,946) for the recent US Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden didn’t come close to Spokane’s tally (158,170) for the last Olympic year, Saturday night’s figure for the women’s free skate (13,980) was the largest since the 2002 event in Los Angeles drew 18,035. That was particularly significant since the session was up against the Patriots’ home playoff game with Indianapolis. The Spokane number was an outlier since the championships were held on consecutive weekends. What held the Boston numbers down were lightly attended sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoons . . . After a decade of international figure skating judges essentially having bags over their heads, the US federation wants to put an end to scoring anonymity. “We think the time has come that that is done away with,” said executive director David Raith, who pointed out that the International Skating Union identifies the judges at junior competitions and the USFSA at all levels. Odds are that time won’t come until after ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta, who backed the anonymous format when the new scoring system was adopted, leaves office in 2016, if then . . . Back in mid-air is ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, who’s hoping to be named to the Olympic team Wednesday after tearing up her right knee last summer. “The feeling of that first jump back was one of the best sensations in the entire world,” declared the reigning world titlist, who has been spending 6-8 hours a day rehabbing for nearly five months.

Branching out

If Shaun White doesn’t win his third straight halfpipe crown in Sochi, the carrot-topped snowboarder will get another gilded chance. The erstwhile “Flying Tomato” also qualified for the new slopestyle event. Also earning return halfpipe tickets are fellow gold medalists Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark . . . Heather Richardson, who’s gunning for gold at the Games, wasn’t bothered by the Chinese taking back her title at last weekend’s world sprint speedskating championships in Nagano. “This year my focus is Sochi,” said Richardson, who was third behind former champ Yu Jing and Zhang Hong in the wake of a heavy training regimen. Same for countryman Shani Davis, who finished behind defending champ Michel Mulder of the Netherlands but has a good chance at winning both the 1,000 and 1,500 meters at Olympus. “I’m a greedy American,” he said. “I want both.” . . . The US bobsledders were back atop the podium at last weekend’s stop in Igls, Austria, as Steve Holcomb won the two-man, his first victory in the event on European ice since 2007, and Jamie Greubel and Elana Meyers went 1-2 in the women’s race. Going into this weekend’s season finale in Koenigssee, Germany, Holcomb leads the two-man standings and is third on both the four-man and overall lists. The women’s title still is up for grabs among Canada’s Kaillie Humphries, the defending Olympic champion, Greubel and Meyers, who are separated by just 11 points. Holcomb again will drive USA I in both the two-man and four-man at the Olympics, with Nick Cunningham driving USA II in both races and Cory Butner USA III in the two-man. Holcomb’s four-man pushers will be fellow gold medalist Curt Tomasevic, Melrose native Steve Langton, and Chris Fogt, while Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn, and Dallas Robinson will be behind Cunningham. The brakemen for the two-man sleds will come from among the four-man group. Joining Greubel and Meyers as women’s pilots will be Jazmine Fenlator, with Lauryn Williams, Aja Evans, and Lolo Jones as brakemen. Jones, who has competed in two Summer Games on the track, had to sweat out a selection process this time. “I’m usually used to looking up at a screen after I cross the finish line to see the results,” she said. It’ll be Jones’s third shot at a gold medal after missing in the hurdles in Beijing and London. Williams, whom Jones persuaded to take up bobsled, earned hers in the 4-by-400 relay in 2012.

Skeleton crew

Making her third Olympic skeleton team is Katie Uhlaender, who earned a discretionary pick, joining Vancouver veteran Noelle Pikus-Pace, who’ll challenge likely World Cup champ Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain for the gold in Sochi. The men’s team includes Matt Antoine, who has a chance at bronze, 2010 competitor John Daly, and Kyle Tress . . . After clinching the World Cup luge titles in all four disciplines, the Germans will send their second-stringers to this weekend’s season finale in Latvia in order to prep their varsity for the Olympics, where they’re expected to go 1-2 in men’s, women’s, and men’s doubles and win the team relay. Felix Loch claimed his third straight overall crown while Natalie Geisenberger retained hers (the 16th straight for the frauleins) and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt also repeated. Erin Hamlin’s sixth place on the soft ice at Altenberg last weekend was the best effort by the Americans.

John Powers can be reached at john.powers@globe.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.
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