Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey opened their IBU individual World Cup biathlon seasons Wednesday with the 20-kilometer race in Ostersund, Sweden.
Burke, a Paul Smiths native, posted the top American finish with a 33rd place showing in 53 minutes, 51.4 seconds. Bailey of Lake Placid wasn't far behind with his 37th-place finish in 53.59.1.
Burke had a rifle jam and two misses at the second shooting station and one at the third. Bailey missed once in each of the last three stations.
"Tim and Lowell had just penalty one too many to be Top 20, but their skiing times were there," said Bernd Eisenbichler, USBA's high performance director. "The men are looking forward to Saturday's Sprint and everyone is happy to have the first race out of the way."
Defending overall champion Martin Fourcade of France won the race, beating runner-up Dominik Landertinger of Austria by 12.3 seconds. Fourcade and Landertinger had their only miss at the second of four shooting stations, but the Frenchman used his stronger skiing to finish in 50 minutes, 44.7 seconds.
Erik Lesser of Germany was one of only three skiers to shoot cleanly and finished third, 21.7 seconds back. All-time great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway skipped the event because of a cold.
Jay Hakkinen of Alaska posted a time of 55:56.8, with one penalty for a tie in 63rd place with Lukasz Szczurek of Poland. Leif Nordgren of Minnesota finished 75th with a time of 57:32.9 and Russell Currier of Maine was 89th at 59:40.9.
Cook tops American women
Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake was the top United States woman finisher in Thursday's 15-kilometer individual World Cup event in Ostersund, Sweden.
Cook combined strong skiing and shooting to post a time of 50:53.5, which was good for 46th place. She entered the fourth stage of shooting in 28th place with just one penalty, but missed two targets to drop 21 places.
"I had so much fun today, it was pretty exciting for me to feel like I was having a good shooting race and that there was possibilities of performing really well," Cook said. "Of course, as soon as I thought that there was a chance, then I missed two at the end ... but I am still happy. It was great having all of the staff out on the course and they did a killer job of cheering, so that also made me feel really pumped.
"I think my shape is better than last year and I am looking forward to the chance to keep practicing getting it right at this crazy sport."
Olympic champion Tora Berger of Norway won the event with perfect shooting and a time of 44:33.5, ahead of Darya Domracheva of Belarus, who finished second with a time of 45:36.7 and two penalties. Ekaterina Glazyrina of Russia finished third with a time of 46:43.7 and clean shooting.
"Annelies proved what we've seen in the training already; the physical capacity is there for the longer individual races after a good summer of training," said USBA women's coach Jonne Kahkonen.
"It was a good race from Annelies, especially in running, but also with good shooting," added USBA High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. "Top 30 was possible for her today, but an athlete learns out of these situations."
Sara Studebaker of Idaho finished 76th with a time of 53:58 and four misses, Susan Dunklee of Vermont finished 81st (54:03.9/1+1+3+2) and Lanny Barnes finished 84th (54:56.2/2+0+2+0).
World Cup competition resumes Saturday in Ostersund with the men's 10k sprint beginning at 7:30 a.m. (eastern), followed by the women's 7.5k sprint at 10:30 a.m.