Bailey finishes 14th in World Cup mass start
Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, turned in the top performance for Team USA in Sunday’s biathlon mass start race as the IBU World Cup 7 came to a close in Kontiolahti, Finland. Bailey finished 14th in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start race, with two penalties on the range, 1 minute, 6.3 seconds off the pace.
Cleaning both prone stages, Bailey moved into fourth place out on the course, but a miss in each of his standing stages bumped him back to 14th at the finish.
Austria’s Julian Eberhard came from 17.2 seconds back after the final standing stage, flying over the last 3K loop to claim his first-ever mass start victory in 38:04.8. Eberhard, with two penalties, made his final move after tangling skis with Russia’s Anton Shipulin and then quickly passing France’s Martin Fourcade who finished second, also with two penalties, 6.9 seconds back. Shipulin, with one penalty, finished third, 19.3 seconds behind Eberhard.
Leif Nordgren, of Marine, Minnesota, finished 30th with six penalties, 3:59 back of Eberhard’s time.
Later in the day, the women’s 12.5K mass start got underway with American Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) in the mix. Coming off a career-best 13th-place finish in the sprint, Egan again started strong hitting 14 of her first 15 targets on the range to move into 15th place. However, three penalties at the final standing stage knocked her back to 23rd place at the finish, 2:05.6 off the pace. Still, it was another career-best performance for Egan in the mass start, besting a 24th place at the 2017 IBU World Championships.
“Last year, in my first mass start, I felt like an imposter, but this year was completely different,” Egan said. “I knew I deserved to be there and competed in the mix with the top women. My first three stages and my skiing were all good, but unfortunately I unraveled in my final stage. I am motivated to do even better in our upcoming final week of World Cup racing in Oslo.”
Germany’s Vanessa Hinz claimed her first-ever World Cup win and first-ever podium, shooting clean to win the women’s mass start in 35:47.9. Second place, also a career best, went to Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, with one penalty, 13.5 seconds back. France’s Anais Chevalier, also with one penalty, finished third, 16.8 seconds behind Hinz.
The next stop on the circuit, the BMW IBU World Cup 8, opens in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday, March 15, and runs through Sunday, March 18.
KONTIOLAHTI, Finland — The U.S. team rallied from 18th place to finish ninth in Saturday’s mixed relay at the BMW IBU World Cup 7 in Kontiolahti. It was the best mixed relay finish of the season for Team USA, coming off a 15th-place finish at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. The quartet of Clare Egan, Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, California), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths) and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, New Hampshire) finished 2 minutes, 48.4 seconds behind the winning time, with one penalty and 11 spare rounds.
Despite losing a pole on the opening loop, Egan got the team off to a strong start with a clean round in prone.
“I lost a pole on the first loop and lost some places, but that’s very common in the first loop of a relay when more than 20 teams are skiing in a pack,” Egan said. “I was given a replacement fairly soon and luckily it was the right height for me. I just tried to stay relaxed and regain my position.”
Egan exited the range in third place but eventually took the race lead as the field came into the range for the standing shoot.
“After shooting prone I was just a few seconds behind France and Kazakhstan,” Egan said. “The Kazakhstan athlete was not setting a fast enough pace so Dorin-Habert (France) went around and I followed. I felt very in control and had fast skis again, so my plan was just to hang behind her. But on the big climb, I noticed she was dropping back to try to get me to lead into the range. There’s a bit of a headwind on the range approach so it’s not ideal to be the leader. I did not want to go first, but she was really backing off and meanwhile other teams were catching up and I felt really strong so I just decided I needed to go in front.”
Egan ran into trouble during the standing stage, needing all three spares as well as incurring a penalty loop. That knocked her from first back to 18th by the time she completed the 150-meter penalty lap.
“I’m really proud that in my first time ever shooting on point 1, I shot really well from the clip, only missing one shot,” she said. “I felt confident and in control, but then I fumbled with my first spare and somehow lost my focus and I don’t remember much after that. I just must have taken bad shots. It’s painful to have just one miss from the clip and then miss it three times in a row. It’s great that my other teammates were so strong that they were able to carry us back to a top-10 finish.”
Handing off to Reid for the second leg in 17th position, Reid used two spare rounds in prone and another in standing as she clawed her way back to 13th place when she made the second exchange with Burke.
Burke moved the squad up one place with a clean round in prone and three spares in standing as he tagged Doherty for the anchor leg in 12th. From there, Doherty needed just two spare rounds, one in prone and one in standing, and skied the second-fastest second loop to pull the U.S. up to ninth place at the line.
“I am very happy with how I was feeling today,” Doherty said. “The body was firing on all cylinders, the skis were rockets and it was fun to be able to fight back and make up a few spots.”
The Italian squad of Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi, Dominik Windisch and Lukas Hofer took the mixed relay victory with one penalty and 13 spare rounds. They were 1.5 seconds ahead of Ukraine while Norway placed third, 9.1 seconds behind Italy.
In the single mixed relay earlier in the day, the duo of Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vermont) and Lowell Bailey placed 14th with one penalty and 14 spare rounds. Their time was 1:13 behind the winning time turned in by France’s Anais Chevalier and Anton Guigonnat who claimed the victory with six spare rounds. Austria took second and Norway placed third.