Flowers for Clare Egan in Antholz

U.S. Biathlon Team and Craftsbury Green Racing Project athlete Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth, Maine and Lake Placid recently grabbed the second-best finish of her career.

Egan finished in fourth place in Friday’s 15km Women’s Individual competition in Antholz, Italy. The result comes after Egan went home for Christmas and skipped the Oberhof World Cup to prepare for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

“The biggest challenge with my preparation has been staying positive and patient while I try to get my physical shape up to speed after a tough start to the season,” Egan said in a statement. “But I’m well-supported by the team around me so I never stop believing. I think my plan to go home for Christmas and then skip the World Cup in Oberhof to train here in Antholz at altitude has worked well for me.”

The last time Egan participated in the flower ceremony was in the same event in 2020 at the Pokljuka World Cup where she placed sixth. Being back in top form showed her that she was on the right track after a disappointing 76th place last week in the Ruhpolding World Cup 7.5km Sprint race.

Egan was inspired by Paul Schommer’s ninth place finish on Thursday and hopes her fourth place finish can inspire the rest of her team to know they are on the right path ahead of the Olympics.

“Biathlon is a very difficult sport and the great thing about Clare is that she is resilient and perseveres,” Women’s Head Coach Armin Auchentaller said. “Hard work always pays off, the biggest thing is to believe in what you are doing.”

Egan certainly allowed the plan to play out in her favor, and her fourth-place finish qualified her for the Women’s 12.5km mass start on Sunday.

Rounding out Team USA’s finishes today were Deedra Irwin in 55th, Joanne Reid in 73rd, and Susan Dunklee in 88th.

Relay take 5th place

In the final women’s relay competition before the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, the 14th ranked U.S. Women’s Biathlon team raced to a fifth place finish in Saturday’s 4×6-kilometer event at the BMW IBU World Cup in Antholz.

It marked the best relay finish for the women’s team in a World Cup since 1994 when the U.S. took the silver medal in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. However, Saturday’s performance bettered that race 28 years ago in terms of time behind as they finished 50.1 seconds back of first place compared to 57.3 seconds behind in 1994.

“I’ve dreamed of a top five women’s relay for over a decade,” three-time Olympian Dunklee, of Craftsbury, Vermont said in a statement.

Dunklee kicked off the relay using one spare round in prone and two spares in standing. She made the first exchange with Egan with the U.S. team in 12th place, 41.6 seconds back of the leader.

Egan, heading into her second Olympic Games, brought the American squad up to 10th place after needing three spares in prone and two in standing on her second leg.

“It’s great to improve on our sixth place from last winter as we head into the Olympics,” said Egan, referring to last season’s World Cup relay performance in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Irwin, of Pulaski, Wisconsin, a National Guard Biathlon athlete and the lone rookie on this year’s Olympic team, went clean in prone and used three spare rounds in standing to vault the team into medal contention at the final exchange.

Irwin tagged off the anchor leg to Reid, of Grand Junction, Colorado in seventh place, a mere 27.6 seconds out of first.

Reid, a 2018 Olympian, was solid on the range needing just one spare in prone and another in standing. She brought the team home in fifth place, 50.1 seconds back of gold-medal winning Norway. Russia took second and France edged Italy for third in a photo finish.

“I think it’s really encouraging that we were within 20 seconds of Italy and France — two of the top teams — with the same shooting,” Egan added.

Earlier in the day, Schommer, of Appleton, Wisconsin and a Team Crosscut athlete, finished 22nd in the men’s 15km mass start, the first mass start of his career.


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