Bailey places 17th in Sweden
Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, moved up five places to finish 17th in Sunday’s 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit race at the World Cup event in Ostersund, Sweden.
Bailey, who battled a cold earlier in the week, started in 22nd position, 50 seconds back of leader Tarjei Boe, but knocked down 18 of 20 targets to reach the top 20 in the 59-man field.
“I felt OK the last two races, much better than the individual, but I’m hopeful that I can make improvements to my ski speed as we move deeper into the start of the season,” Bailey said. “Not ideal to have a cold during the first week of the race season, but all things considered, I’m happy with the start and looking forward to getting back to Hochfilzen. The track was a bit choppy with hard ice underneath a five-inch later of sugary snow. I definitely struggled a bit on the climbs.”
Bailey crossed the finish line 1 minute, 40.2 seconds behind winner Martin Fourcade of France. Fourcade sealed his victory with two fast and clean standing stages after missing a single prone shot in the first stage. He finished in 30:12.2, 40.8 seconds ahead of Slovenia’s Jakov Fak who had two penalties. Third place went to France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet, also with two penalties, 42.1 seconds behind Fourcade.
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke also improved upon his start position of 52nd. He had four penalties on the range but finished 48th, 3:52.7 off the winning time.
The BMW IBU World Cup circuit now moves to Hochfilzen, Austria, site of last year’s world championships where Bailey won gold in the men’s 20k individual and Susan Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont, captured the silver medal in the women’s mass start. Sprint competition kicks off the event on Dec. 8, followed by pursuit races on Dec. 9 and relays on Dec. 10.
Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke earned starting positions in Sunday’s pursuit with their efforts in Saturday’s 10-kilometer sprint at the World Cup event in Ostersund.
Bailey turned in the best performance of the young season for Team USA with clean shooting on the range to finish 22nd, 49.8 seconds back of winner Tarjei Boe of Norway.
“I’m happy with the performance,” Bailey said. “I was pretty disappointed coming off of Thursday’s Individual so it’s a big confidence boost to shoot clean today. I’m still not feeling 100 percent on the ski course but I definitely felt much better today than I did in the individual. As seems to be the case in this race each year, the field is incredibly tight for tomorrow’s pursuit. It will be an exciting race.”
For the first time this week, the temperature at the start was above freezing with a light wind pushing the flags in a variety of directions.
Burke hit seven of 10 targets on the range to place 52nd, 1:42.3 off the pace. Other U.S. finishers were Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minnesota) in 66th, Sean Doherty (Center Conway, New Hampshire) in 82nd, and Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wisconsin) in 94th.
Boe put forth a furious finish in the closing meters of the men’s sprint to claim his first victory since 2013. His time of 22:40.6 was just .7 seconds ahead of France’s Martin Fourcade. Third place went to Germany’s Erik Lesser, 3.7 seconds back. All three men on the podium had a single penalty.