Tracy and Lanny Barnes entered last weekend's IBU Cup event in Italy competing for the last open spots on the U.S. Olympic biathlon team. But Lanny fell ill and wasn't able to participate in three of the four races, and landed just outside the cutoff to make the squad—just behind Tracy. The next morning, Tracy announced that she would decline her Olympic spot, a decision that will send Lanny to Sochi.
In an email to friends and family, via the Durango Herald, Tracy wrote:
"Yesterday I was named to the Olympic Team! I cannot think of any greater honor in the world, save one. ... (Lanny) is having a stellar year and I for one want to see where she can take it ... what heights she can climb to."
The Barneses, who have been training together for 15 years, competed together in the 2006 Torino games, but only Lanny qualified for Vancouver in 2010. Lanny's the better of the pair, and likely would have placed ahead of Tracy if she hadn't gotten sick over the weekend.
"It's a remarkable thing, even for a sister," Max Cobb, president of U.S. Biathlon, told 3 Wire Sports, "even for a twin sister, to be selfless enough to understand that another athlete would have a better opportunity to perform at the Games."
The sisters are 31, making this likely the last chance either has to compete in an Olympics. How did Lanny take the news?
"I told her," Tracy said, "I had something to tell her."
She added, "Of course she protested."
There were tears. A lot. On both sides.
A lovely little story, replete with Olympic spirit and whatnot. But I can't help but wonder: As identical twins, couldn't they have pulled the old switcheroo and both competed in Sochi?