OSTERSUND, Sweden - Lake Placid's Lowell Bailey was perfect on the shooting range and skied his way to a career-best fifth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint race of the season-opening IBU World Cup meet Friday in Sweden.
Bailey posted a time of 24 minutes, 44.9 seconds, which was just 22.4 seconds off the winner, Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden. Bailey now sits fourth overall in the World Cup standings after placing ninth in Wednesday's 20k opener.
"It's not every day in biathlon that you can execute everything the way you want it to go, but today was one of those days," Bailey said following the race. "It's been a long time for me doing this sport. I look back at the last 5-6 years with the US Biathlon staff, and I feel like we have learned so much. Today is one of the times I realize how much we have learned and how far we have come. We are all really excited.
Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid makes his way toward the finish line on the way to a fifth-place finish Friday in the 10-kilometer sprint race of the IBU World Cup event in Ostersund, Sweden.
(Photo — USBiathlon.org/NordicFocus.com)
"I'm really excited for Sunday's pursuit. I've never started that high, and I'm really excited to mix it up in that that field."
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke took 12th place Friday with a time of 25:19 (0+1).
"It was a really good day, I'm happy with my performance and results," Burke said. "It's my best race in a while. I've had a really solid year of training, and was disappointed not to show that in the first race this week, but I felt I bounced back and showed it today.
"I'm really excited for the pursuit. It will be an exciting race with so many so close together. It's one of my favorite formats."
With three men (Bailey, Burke and Jay Hakkinen) in the in the Top 31 of the World Cup ranking, Team USA's men currently rank seventh in the Men's Nation Cup, the highest rank ever for the squad, ahead of Russia and only 10 points behind Sweden.
"I think today was a great team performance overall, and we owe thanks to the staff for their hard work through challenging conditions here in Ostersund earlier this week," said US Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. "With our seventh-place ranking in the Men's Nation Cup, it shows that the team has strong potential."
Tough opener for US women
It was a challenging day for the Team USA women Thursday in the 15k individual event.
"Stormy and windy conditions made shooting a little bit of a luck thing," Eisenbichler said.
Sara Studebaker of Boise, Idaho was in good position until the last shooting when she missed three to finish 44th (54:46.3,1+1+0+3).
Susan Dunklee of Barton,Vt. raced in her first World Cup event, finishing 45th (54:47.5, 0+2+2+3). Lanny Barnes of Colorado finished 48th (54:54.5, 3+0+0+2) and Laura Spector of Massachusetts finished 73rd (58:11.7, 2+1+2+2).
Darya Domracheva won the event in 47:15.6 (1+1+0+0).
Biathlon World Cup Results
At Ostersund, Sweden
1. Carl Johan Bergman, Sweden, 24 minutes, 22.5 seconds, (0).
2. Tarjei Boe, Norway, 24:30.1, (0).
3. Emil Hegle Svendsen, Norway, 24:35.5, (1).
4. Martin Fourcade, France, 24:38.9, (1).
5. Lowell Bailey, United States, 24:44.9, (0).
6. Andreas Birnbacher, Germany, 25:03.2, (0).
7. Jaroslav Soukup, Czech Republic, 25:03.5, (0)
8. Michal Slesingr, Czech Republic, 25:05.5, (1)
9. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway, 25:11.7, (1).
10. Sven Grossegger, Austria, 25:13.6, (0).
Other U.S. finishers
12. Tim Burke, United States, 25:19.2 (1).
39. Jay Hakkinen, United States, 26:23.3 (1).
79. Leif Nordgren, United States, 27:34.6 (3).