By Brian Gomez, The Gazette –
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Brady Ellison knows he’s going to London. Jennifer Nichols hopes that she can get there. They’re ready to take aim at their Olympic dreams in a pressure-packed qualifying event.
Ellison is the runaway favorite on the men’s side, and Nichols is narrowly trailing in the women’s competition heading into the final nomination shoot of the U.S. Olympic archery trials, featuring eight men and eight women battling for three spots in each gender Saturday and Sunday at the Grace Center.
Holding the world’s top ranking in recurve, Ellison, 23, has a sizable lead after the first two qualifying events, in which archers accumulated points through ranking rounds, elimination series and round-robin match play — firing at 122-centimeter targets 76 yards away. He’s a 2011 world bronze medalist and a two-time world indoor champion, and no other archer has won back-to-back World Cup titles or three straight World Cup stages.
The United States has secured three men’s quota places (the maximum possible) for this summer in London. Behind Ellison are Jake Kaminski, who ranks 11th in the world, and Jacob Wukie, a 2008 Olympic alternate. Then comes Joe Fanchin, a World Cup gold medalist, and Butch Johnson, a five-time Olympian. And also in the mix are Dan Schuller, Thomas Stanwood and Vic Wunderle, the last U.S. archer to claim an Olympic medal, in 2000.
A two-time Olympian and 2007 Pan American Games champion, Nichols, 28, is chasing Miranda Leek, a world indoor silver medalist, and in third is Khatuna Lorig, a four-time Olympian who served as archery coach for the action film “The Hunger Games.” Heather Koehl and Kristin Braun are in fourth and fifth, and in back of them are Lori Cieslinski, Mackenzie Brown and Holly Stover. The United States owns only one women’s quota position for London, with the possibility that it could qualify a full team June 21 in Ogden, Utah.