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Bailey in top 10 once again

March 6, 2017
Lake Placid News

Lowell Bailey kept his momentum going Saturday with a ninth-place finish in the 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit race at the IBU World Cup race in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Bailey, of Lake Placid, came into the race sitting in second place after Friday's silver medal in the 10-kilometer sprint on the Olympic course. In February, he captured the first world championship in U.S. biathlon history when he won the 20K individual event in Hochfilzen, Austria.

Bailey, who had only one miss on the shooting range in his last five races prior to Saturday, missed at the first prone stage to knock him down to ninth place. He rebounded by going clean in the next prone stage to move him back into medal contention in fifth position, 21 seconds back of the lead and 14 seconds from third place.

After another miss in standing dashed any medal hopes, Bailey went clean in the final standing stage and found himself in a four-man sprint finish for seventh place. All four men finished within 0.3 seconds of each other with Bailey claiming the ninth spot.

Bailey's time of 32 minutes, 44.8 seconds was 1:20.6 back of France's Martin Fourcade, who shot clean to claim the gold medal. Russia's Anton Shipulin matched Fourcade on the shooting range, finishing second, 34.5 seconds back. Friday's sprint winner, Austria's Julian Eberhard was third with three penalties, 35.7 behind.

"Today was a tough race, but I'm satisfied with the results," Bailey said. "The 2.5-kilometer loop is a climb right out of the gate, from the course low point to the high point. I knew Fourcade was only a few seconds behind me so I just tried to stay with him when he caught me. I felt good about how I skied the first lap, but I just had a split bullet at 7 o'clock. After that, I was pushed back out of the top group.

"I felt good about the way the race played out. I managed to stay in the top 10 and hang in for the final sprint with Bene Doll, Landertinger and Hofer. That's fast company and it was a crazy group sprint to the line. I can't remember a finish quite like that."

American Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minnesota) enjoyed a fine day on the range, hitting 19 of 20 targets and moving up nine spots from his start position to finish 28th, 2:28.9 back of Fourcade.

"It was calm in the range, good conditions for shooting so I was able to capitalize and have a good race," Nordgren said. "I'm slightly bummed to have missed my last shot again, but I had three good stages so I can be happy with that. I felt pretty good skiing today. This 2.5-kilometer loop is difficult, but I think I handled it and the conditions well. One more race to rebound for tomorrow."

In the women's 10K pursuit race Saturday, American Susan Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont, took fifth place to continue her streak of four-straight top-10 individual finishes.

Starting one minute back of leader Laura Dahlmeier of Germany in the fifth, Dunklee again employed the fast shooting tactics that have served her so well on the range in recent races. She had the second-fastest shooting time and second-fastest range time in the field, but suffered one penalty in each of the first two prone stages.

"I was satisfied to be able to put together another strong result," Dunklee said. "My shooting didn't feel quite as dialed in as the past few races, but the skiing felt good."

After dropping back to eighth place following the second shooting stage, Dunklee cleaned from standing to move up to fourth, just 0.1 seconds out of third. A third miss on the range in the final standing stage bumped her back to fifth place and she was edged out at the finish line by half a second for fourth by Norway's Tiril Eckhoff.

"My body suddenly woke up on the last steep uphill and wanted to attack," said Dunklee. "I finally could dig into that deepest gear which has proved elusive for most of the season."

Dunklee's time was 1 minute, 32.5 seconds back of Dahlmeier's winning effort of 27:58. Dahlmeier led from start to finish, shooting clean for her ninth win of the season. Finland's Kaisa Makarainen was second with two penalties, 1:12.6 back. France's Anais Bescond, with one penalty, took third, 1:18.9 behind Dahlmeier.

Other U.S. finishers in the women's pursuit were Clare Egan, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, in 36th and Joanne Reid, of Boulder, Colorado, in 52nd. Egan shot clean in three of the four stages, but had three misses in the third stage.

"Going 0-0-3-0 is more frustrating than some other arrangements of three misses, but when it comes down to it, I shot 85 percent and I'm satisfied," Egan said. "I have a cold right now so I'm relying on auto-pilot to get me from start to finish. I've been pleasantly surprised by how my body had responded and I'm happy to have finished in the points both days this weekend."


Team relay

The U.S. men's team challenged early and finished strong in Sunday's 47.5-kilometer relay as the BMW IBU World Cup 7 came to a close at the Olympic venue in Pyeongchang. The American quartet of Lowell Bailey, Leif Nordgren, Paul Schommer and Sean Doherty placed 10th.

Bailey, who had just three misses on the shooting range in his previous six races, continued his stellar marksmanship on Sunday. After cleaning all 10 targets, he had Team USA in first place exiting the range. For the opening leg of the relay, Bailey had both the fastest shooting time and fastest range time. He made the first exchange with Nordgren in second place, just 5.5 seconds behind leader Norway.

"Today was much trickier on the range, with gusting winds that changed direction frequently," Bailey said. "(Maxim) Tsvetkov and (Lucas) Hofer set a brutal pace on the first lap, so I just tried to hang in the draft and bide my time until prone. Fortunately, I was able to clean quickly and get out in the lead group. From there, the pace was more manageable, which meant the pack grew so that we were back to 10 or 15 guys at the front for the standing shoot. There was a bit of wind and I just tried to take quality shots."

I think a lot of guys struggled in the gusts and I was able to get out in front because of that. (Vetle Sjastad) Christiansen (NOR) gapped me on the back flat, and I started to come back to him on the hill section, but couldn't quite bridge the gap by the tag."

Nordgren maintained the team's hold on second place with a clean round from prone. After using two spares in standing, Nordgren tagged off to Schommer in seventh position, 49.6 seconds back of the leaders.

Schommer, skiing in his first career World Cup relay, needed three extra rounds in both prone and standing, and made the final exchange with Doherty for the anchor leg in 13th place.

Doherty brought it home strong, using just one spare in standing to bring the team back up to 10th at the finish, 3 minutes, 12.8 seconds off the pace.

"The rest of the guys fought hard and it was a solid top-10 result," added Bailey. "It was Paul's first World Cup relay appearance and he did a great job, staying calm, and most importantly, staying out of the penalty loop."

The French team of Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Simon Fourcade, Simon Desthieux and Martin Fourcade dominated the relay, covering the tracks in 1:12:09 with 10 spares. Austria was second, 33.8 seconds back with nine spares, while Norway took the bronze medal with one penalty and eight spare rounds, 45.4 seconds behind France.

The American women's team of Clare Egan, Susan Dunklee, Joanne Reid and Maddie Phaneuf had one penalty and used 10 spare rounds in finishing 14th, 3:08.3 off the winning time.

Egan started strong with a clean round from prone but had trouble in the standing position where she used three extra rounds and incurred the penalty. Dunklee received the tag from Egan in 19th place but brought the team back up to 14th by cleaning from prone and needing two spares in standing. She had the fastest course time in the field for the second leg.

Reid also cleaned from prone and used two extra rounds in standing, but moved the squad up to 11th place as she tagged off to Phaneuf for the final exchange. Phaneuf kept the team's streak of perfect shooting from prone intact, but needed three spare rounds in the final standing stage and crossed the line in 14th.

"There are a lot of fighting hearts on this team," Reid said. "We're not always the team with the best shooting, but I think every one of us has enough love for our teammates that we choose to fight for them, and for our staff that have put so much work into making our race successful.

"You can easily look at Susan who turned in the fastest range times and fastest course times as the embodiment of this, but it's in all of us. Clare, who was sick, penalty lapped, but put her head down and fought all the way to the end. Maddie, whose strength lies in courses in which she can use her power skiing, and this slow, soft snow that broke away underfoot wasn't one of those days, but she kept pushing on.

"Combined, our years of experience don't even match some of our male counterparts on their own. But we are aware of every piece we have to work on, and every one of us is dedicated to the process of learning and training and practicing until we can make it to the top. One team, one goal. See you in 2018, PyeongChang, and we'll be stronger then."

The German team of Nadine Horchler, Maren Hammerschmidt, Denise Herrmann and Franziska Hildebrand won the gold medal with a time of 1:07:35.6, despite one penalty and seven spares. Norway was second, 22.8 seconds back with one penalty and 11 spares, while the team from Czech Republic finished third, 22.9 seconds behind Germany with one penalty and nine spares.



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