COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- Despite still feeling the after-effects of an Olympic journey that ended with two skeet gold medals in London, the USA Shooting Team is already busy preparing for the upcoming 2013 season. Based on shooting performances from the Fall Selection Match in Kerrville, Texas, 20 athletes have been identified to participate in the season's first two International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cups.
First up are preparatory and developmental training camps in Puerto Rico and Mexico, December 10 - 17 that will feature 23 National, Junior, Development and Junior Olympic shotgun athletes including 2012 Olympians Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) and Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.). The camps will focus on skill development and an introduction to the new shooting rules, all in warm-weather training environments. Providing coaching instruction for the Puerto Rico camp will be National Team coach Todd Graves and assistant Jay Waldron while another USA Shooting Team assistant coach, Tommy Lee Browning, handles coaching duties in Mexico.
"I'm excited to get some of our athletes to Puerto Rico and Mexico to work on developing their shooting skills and coming together as a team," said Graves, a four-time Olympian and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist in skeet. "We're putting greater emphasis on the athlete/coach relation and using 2013 as a development and instructional process."
The first of four ISSF Shotgun World Cups will take place among the spring break crowds in Acapulco, Mexico, March 15-24. The second World Cup of the season will require travel over to the United Arab Emirates, April 16-25. Each of the season's first two World Cups will feature one of the top-two finishers from the Fall Selection Match plus one of the top-two finishers from the junior division in that competition. Graves is looking at 2013 to develop young shooters and give them opportunities to compete on a World stage early in the quad in order to instill international experience in a talented group of junior shooters.
Headlining the selected athletes are Men's Skeet Olympians Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.) and Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.). After defending his Olympic gold in London, Hancock is the king of the skeet world currently while Thompson nearly made an Olympic final in his first Games, finishing eighth.
The World Cup Selectees include:
Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.)
Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.)
Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa)
Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.)
TJ Bayer (College Station, Texas)
Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tenn.)
Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas)
Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pa.)
Brian Burrows (Fallbrook, Calif.)
Matt Gossett (Springville, Ala.)
Ashley Carroll (Solvang, Calif.)
Kimberly Bowers (Lafayette, Calif.)
Bradley Beckmann (Chesterfield, Mo.)
Dakotah Richardson (Godley, Texas)
Erin Danhausen (Swartz Creek, Mich.)
Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas)
Double Trap (4)
Billy Crawford (Johnstown, Ohio)
Derek Haldeman (Sunbury, Ohio)
Ian Rupert (Muncy, Pa.)
Christian Wilkosky (Centerburg, Ohio)
The final two World Cups on the ISSF calendar includes Nicosia, Cypress in June before closing out the World Cup Series with a July visit to Granada, Spain, site of the 2014 ISSF World Shooting Championships. That Granada World Cup will have the shotgun squad meeting up with their rifle and pistol teammates in the only combined World Cup competition on the ISSF calendar in 2013. The shooting calendar also includes Fall and Spring National Selection matches, the USA Shooting National Championships, the World Clay Target Championships (Sept. 14-25, Lima, Peru) and the World Cup Finals in October.
"The athletes participating in the first two World Cups earned their right by performing under pressure earlier this fall," Graves stated. "I feel it's important to begin establishing depth in all our ranks which is the reason we're inviting the top junior shooters to the team as well. After Spring Selection, there might be a whole different crop of shooters but we're going to be better down the road by the participation of so many young, up-and-coming shooters early in 2013."