Bailey shoots his way into 10th place

Lake Placid native Lowell Bailey closed out the biathlon world championships on a high note Sunday, capturing 10th place in the 15-kilometer mass start in Oslo, Norway.

Racing with the leaders, and even taking over the lead as the field approached the final shooting stage, Bailey hit his first 19 targets on the range. However, it was a miss on his last target that ultimately cost him any shot at a podium finish as he had to settle for 10th with a time of 37 minutes, 46.8 seconds.

“I’m happy with the race, and obviously, I would’ve liked to hit that last shot, but it was a solid performance and I’m happy with the way I raced,” Bailey said. “I stayed in control of my own race and was able to stay in it until the very end, and that is the sport of biathlon. You can always say, ‘Man, if I just had one more hit, then I would have been here’… but that’s why it’s such a great sport. That’s why the fans love it. That’s why we, the athletes, love it.”

Tim Burke, of Paul Smiths, also kept up with the lead pack through the midway point of the race after cleaning both prone stages, but a miss at each of the standing stages relegated him to 12th place at race’s end. His time was 37:58.5.

“Today was a very unique mass start because the shooting was so good for most of the field,” Burke said. “I feel like the race did not really get going until after the first standing shooting. Up until that point, the lead pack was so big that it basically took skiing out of the equation. I typically prefer a higher pace in the mass starts, but today I just had to be really patient and save up for the last two loops.

“Once again the crowd was amazing. It was impossible to hear what the coaches were saying on the course with so many people. I am still feeling fit and am really looking forward to the last week of racing in Russia. Khanty has always been one of my favorite venues so I look forward to a strong finish there.”

The final World Cup event of the season takes place later this week in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, starting with the women’s 7.5km sprint on Thursday.

On Sunday, 2015 world sprint champion Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway won a duel with France’s Martin Fourcade to win the men’s mass start. Both had a single penalty, but the young Norwegian finished in 37:05.1, 2.8 seconds ahead of Fourcade. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who shot clean, grabbed the bronze medal, his fourth of the world championships.

In the women’s 12.5k mass start earlier in the day, Susan Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont, narrowly missed a top-10 finish placing 11th with three penalties and a time of 36:28.9. Teammate Hannah Dreissigacker, of Morrisville, Vermont, competing at her final world championships, was 27th, with four penalties and a time of 38:43.9.

“So close, once again, to fighting for a podium,” Dunklee said. “Each of the races here in Oslo has boosted my confidence and made me more hungry to keep striving in the future. I was honored to race today alongside Hannah and will miss her and Annelies (Cook) tremendously in the future.”

Cook, a 2014 Olympian from Saranac Lake, announced her retirement during the world championships. She did not qualify for Sunday’s mass start.

“Today wasn’t a perfect race for me but it was solid, and the atmosphere was amazing,” Dreissigacker said. “I had a lot of mixed emotions about it being my last race, but I think it was the perfect way to end my biathlon career.”

France’s Marie Dorin Habert, fueled by clean shooting, led from start to finish of the women’s race to claim her third gold medal of the world championships in a time of 35:28.5. Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, with one penalty, won the silver medal, 7.3 seconds back. Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen matched Dahlmeier on the shooting range but finished with the bronze medal, 8.1 seconds behind Dorin Habert.


Men’s relay

Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke teamed up with Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty on Saturday to take eighth place in the 4×7.5-kilometer relay race at the biathlon world championships in Oslo, Norway.

The quartet displayed fine shooting on the range, needing only five extra rounds in hitting 35 of 40 total targets to finish with a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes, 44.1 seconds.

Bailey got off to a fast start with a clean round in prone which put him among the race leaders on the first leg. Following a miss in standing, Bailey charged hard toward the first exchange, even passing the legendary Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway as he moved from sixth place up to second place.

Bailey tagged off to Nordgren for the second leg with the U.S. just 7.2 seconds back of front-running Germany.

Despite needing an extra round in prone, Nordgren kept the American team in contention in sixth place, still just 12 seconds off the pace. Nordgren, however, couldn’t match the speed set by the leaders, dropping back to 10th place and 30 seconds behind at the 4.3-kilometer mark of his leg. After needing another spare round in standing, Nordgren made the second exchange to Burke in 11th place.

Burke and Doherty both needed an extra round in prone and could not get the team any higher than seventh over the final two legs. Doherty brought it home in eight place, 1:27.3 off the winning time.

“Today was a solid team performance but we were definitely hoping for more,” Burke said. “This was the best shooting performance that I can remember from the team. With that shooting result I would have expected us to be fighting for a podium. This was one of my best relay performances.”

The Norwegian team of Bjoerndalen, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen matched Norway’s women’s team from a day earlier in taking the gold medal. Their winning time of 1:13:16.8, with six spare rounds, was 11.5 seconds ahead of the silver medal German team, with five spare rounds. The Canadians won the bronze medal, also with five spare rounds, 23.4 seconds behind Norway.

“Happy to be in the mix for the relay,” Bailey said. “It was an exciting race with a ton of teams shooting well. Congrats to Canada for an incredible finish.”