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American biathlon relay records season-best

January 23, 2017
By staff , Lake Placid News

Team USA turned in its best relay performance of the season Saturday in the men's 4x7.5-kilometer event on the penultimate day of the biathlon World Cup event in Antholz, Italy. The foursome of Lowell Bailey, Leif Nordgren, Tim Burke and Sean Doherty was in the mix for a podium spot for the majority of the race before finishing in sixth place among the 25 teams.

Bailey, of Lake Placid, needed just one spare in both prone and standing on the opening leg as he made the first exchange with Nordgren in sixth place, 8.6 seconds from the lead.

"Today we showed that we are competitive with the best in the world," Bailey said. "With 10 extra rounds, this is far from our best, but it is a big step in the right direction and exactly where we want to be heading into world champs."

Nordgren, of Minnesota, moved the team into third with two spares in prone and one in standing. He left the range just 11.9 seconds behind the leader after standing, but fell back to ninth by the time he made the second exchange with Burke, now 27.6 seconds back.

"Happy with the effort today," Nordgren said. "It was nice to ski with the lead group on the first loop. I had a bit of a gap after the tag from Lowell, but it was no problem to reel them in eventually. It was a big bummer to miss two in prone, but the rest of the group also missed so I was able to leave towards the front. Since I haven't done much racing this year and my shape is kind of questionable, I didn't want to push that loop too hard. In standing, I got away with one spare, also not perfect but I left the range in third. In the last loop I was holding on for dear life, those other guys have a lot more racing under their belts this year. I have four (races), so that made for a hard loop. The other guys really had a great race, though."

After three extra shots in prone, Burke, a Paul Smiths native, settled down to clean standing from the clip. He tagged off to Doherty in sixth place at the final exchange but with the team still in contention for the podium.

"This was a great race for the team to have going into world championships," Burke said. "The team has struggled this year with injury and illness, so it was important for us to show that we are still among the best in the world."

Doherty started the final leg fast, moving up to fourth place at the 1.1K mark, just eight seconds behind the Russian team for third place. An extra shot in prone bumped Doherty back to sixth again, but the team was still just 16 seconds away from a podium spot. Despite another extra shot in standing, Doherty left the range in fifth, 14 seconds from third-place Russia. He was passed in the final kilometer by Dominik Landertinger of Austria, but held off Quentin Fillon Maillet of France for the sixth-place spot.

Simon Schempp brought the German team to victory in the men's relay, winning a thrilling finish-line sprint by 0.1 seconds over Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen. The German team of Schempp, Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer used seven spares in their 1:13:57.2 victory. Norway used nine spares while early leader Russia, also with nine spares, finished 33.6 seconds back in third place.

Bailey was the lone U.S. athlete in Sunday's 15K mass start. He sat in fourth place, 4.3 seconds back after a clean opening prone and followed that up with another clean prone stage to move into second place, less than a second behind leader Dmytro Pidruchnyi of Ukraine. However, one miss in each of the standing stages pushed Bailey back to 16th at the finish, 1:33.4 off the winning time.

Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe claimed his first win of the season after coming back from illness. Boe shot clean and covered the course in 37:04.3. France's Quentin Fillon Maillet was second with one penalty, 3.7 seconds back. Russia's Anton Shipulin took third, also with one penalty, 21.7 seconds behind Boe.

The attention now shifts to the World Championships scheduled for Feb. 9-19 in Hochfilzen, Austria.



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