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Phaneuf skis, shoots way to first international medal

Maddie Phaneuf of the United States claimed the first medal of her career in international biathlon competition on Wednesday, winning a bronze medal in the IBU Cup’s women’s 12.5-kilometer short individual race in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia.

The previous career-best performance for the New York Ski Education Foundation biathlete from Old Forge was a fourth-place finish in a 7.5k sprint in Arber, Germany in IBU Cup action.

Phaneuf had been knocking on the podium door before finally breaking through in Slovakia. In the 13 races she competed in since heading to Europe in January, the 25-year-old had a pair of top-10s and two more top-15 results prior to the third-place performance that saw her finish 26.2 seconds behind the winner, Germany’s Vanessa Voigt, who shot clean and completed the course in 38 minutes, 52.3 seconds.

Phaneuf was the only non-German in the top five. Hanna Kebinger had a perfect day at the range and finished runner-up 6.9 seconds back of her victorious teammate. Marion Deigensesch placed fourth — 2.1 seconds behind Phaneuf’s podium performance — and Anna Weidel rounded out the top-5.

“I’ve dreamed of landing on the podium for many years now, and can say the wait was worth it!” Phaneuf posted on her website. “SO happy with today’s race!! Feeling strong on the skis with the 19th fastest ski time, and shooting was nearly perfect with only 1 mistake out of 20 shots.”

Also for the Americans, Hallie Grossman finished 46th, Kelsey Joan Dickenson placed 48th, Lake Placid’s Lucy Hochschartner was 66th and Mikayla Maier finished in 78th place in a field of 82 biathletes who completed the race.

Brezno is the second of three sites hosting IBU Cup events this winter and there are two more women’s competitions scheduled there this week with a 7.5k sprint slated for Saturday followed by a 10k pursuit race on Sunday.

The third and final IBU Cup stop of the season will take place Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy March 8-14.

In addition to competing in IBU Cups in Germany and Slovakia this winter, Phaneuf — a 7-year veteran of the US Biathlon National Team — has been in a World Cup race in Kontiolahti, Finland and the European Championships in Duszniki Zdroj.

In Wednesday’s men’s 15k short individual IBU Cup race at the same venue, Raleigh Goessling, of Duluth, Minnesota, had the top performance for the U.S., placing 45th in a field of 100. Goessling missed three targets while finishing 3:37.9 behind the winner, Russian’s Nikita Porshnev, who triumphed in 39:22.2.

Also for the U.S., Vaclav Cervenka was 54th, Carsen Campbell placed 61st, Vincent Bonacci finished 63rd and Luke Brown placed 77th.