Egan turns in career performance at Slovenia World Cup
POKLJUKA, Slovenia — Clare Egan has done what no other American has done. On top of a career-best sixth-place finish Sunday in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit at the IBU World Cup in Pokljuka, the 2018 Olympian from Maine also turned in the fastest course time (25:28.6) in the 60-woman field, a first for a U.S. athlete at a World Cup or World Championship.
Egan was the 15th starter off the line, but her 19-for-20 shooting on the range, coupled with her fast ski time, catapulted her to sixth position at the finish.
“I really worked hard for this and I am psyched,” said a jubilant Egan who’s previous best finish in a World Cup race was 13th. “And it’s just the beginning of the season so I hope more to come.”
Egan looked to improve upon her 15th place in Saturday’s sprint and felt she was capable of a better placing based upon her fitness level.
“I knew the pieces were there. I had clean shooting at a race at the Austrian trials before the World Cup and then I had awesome ski times this week so I knew it was coming and had really good focus,” she said. “I love competing head-to-head so pursuit is a great race for me.”
After her only penalty on the third shooting stage, Egan rebounded with a clean round in the final standing stage to set up her historic finish. She was edged out at the line for fifth place by .3 seconds by Norway’s Marte Olsbu Roeiseland.
“I wasn’t sure if I was in fifth or sixth. The Norwegian skier got me at the finish, so I was so happy when I looked up and saw that I was sixth, in the flower ceremony.”
Egan was one of three American women to qualify for Sunday’s pursuit. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vermont) finished 39th while Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, California) was 43rd. Both improved upon their start positions during the pursuit.
“We’re really excited,” Egan said. “We had two women in top-15 already so our team is off to a really good start. It’s just the beginning of a great season for U.S. Biathlon.”
Kaisa Makarainen of Finland led from start to finish to capture the women’s pursuit with clean shooting and a time of 26:19.9. Dorothea Wierer finished in second place, 41.3 seconds behind Makarainen, while Paulina Fialkova of Slovakia placed third, 59.2 seconds behind. Both Wierer and Fialkova also shot clean.
Earlier in the day, the men’s pursuit took place with Americans Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty finishing 33rd and 39th, respectively. Nordgren had three penalties on the range, but they were sandwiched around two clean rounds to bookend the race.
“I managed to keep it together in the final standing today and moved up a quite a few spots on that stage,” Nordgren said. “With how competitive the field is nowadays each penalty costs a lot in the end. Unfortunately, I had a few too many mistakes in the middle stages to really have a great race.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve scored any World Cup points in the first trimester much less the first World Cup, so to have three races in the points this week is something I can be proud of and is a sign that I’m not far off from where I want to be.”
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe won the men’s pursuit in a photo finish over France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet. Boe, with three penalties, finished in 30:20.4, just .1 seconds ahead of Fillon Maillet who shot clean. Alexander Loginov of Russia finished third, with a single penalty, 1.9 seconds back.