Bailey sits out biathlon opener
The 2017-18 biathlon season kicked off Sunday with the mixed relay events at the IBU World Cup event in Oestersund, Sweden.
The U.S. team of Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan, Paul Schommer and Sean Doherty finished 21st in the mixed relay. Schommer was a late substitution for world champion Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, who woke up Sunday with congestion.
The American foursome finished four minutes, 47.6 seconds behind the winning time of the team from Norway. The U.S. used 11 spares and had two penalties on the shooting range. Schommer, of Wisconsin, and Doherty, of New Hampshire, displayed fine marksmanship with just two misses each.
Dunklee, who was eager to start the racing season, looked very comfortable on her skis during the opening leg of the relay.
“The training season was long and it’s exciting to finally get the racing rolling,” said Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont. “I’ve been feeling technically strong on skis these past weeks and it’s nice to have that confirmed today.”
The Norwegian team of Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen won the first mixed relay of the season for the third year in a row in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 31.7 seconds with 13 spare rounds. Norway’s anchor Svendsen held off Italy’s Lukas Hofer in the last loop as Italy finished second, 5.3 seconds back, with one penalty and five spares. Third place went to Germany with 10 spares, 6.4 seconds behind.
Earlier in the day, the team of Emily Dreissigacker and Leif Nordgren competed in the single mixed relay.
Both Dreissigacker and Nordgren shot clean from their opening prone positions. However, the team was lapped before the finish of the race and placed 19th.
The Austrian team of Lisa Theresa Hauser and Simon Eder won the single mixed relay in 36 minutes, 17 seconds. A brilliant shooting performance of just two spare rounds put them 16.5 seconds ahead of Germany’s Vanessa Hinz and Erik Lesser who had nine spares. Third place went to Kazakhstan with Galena Vishnevskaya and Maxim Braun, 32.7 seconds back with five spares.
The teams will have a few days off before competition resumes Wednesday with the women’s 15-kilometer individual race.
“My favorite part of the first week is being reunited with friends we haven’t seen in months, our team staff who live in Europe and athletes from many other countries,” Dunklee said.