The U.S. biathlon team says that they were far from surprised when Lowell Bailey and Susan Dunklee broke through and onto the podium at the end of this season. That gains the team some recognition: “It’s obvious that we have more athletes that are a threat for everybody now for the top results,” head coach Per Nilsson says.
Crawford Bounces Back from Crash with First Career Top-10; Canada Celebrates New Depth of Women’s Team
For the first time, Canada qualified two women for a biathlon mass start: Zina Kocher, who skied in second and third place for the first half of the race, and Rosanna Crawford, who achieved a longstanding goal of making the top ten. Crawford was racing with injuries sustained in a collision with a Russian coach in yesterday’s pursuit.
Anastasiya Kuzmina couldn’t have been more surprised to find herself in the lead at the end of the 12.5 k mass start, but she made the most of it and finished the season happy. Meanwhile, Kaisa Makarainen took home the World Cup trophy after both she and rival Tora Berger had subpar races – but a slightly less subpar one for Makarainen than for the retiring Norwegian superstar.
Kuzmina Shoots to Huge Win in Holmenkollen Pursuit; Makarainen-Berger Total Score Battle Intensifies
Anastasiya Kuzmina shot better than any of the other favorites and skated off to a win while they were stuck in the penalty loop. But the biggest drama might have been that when Tora Berger finished second and Kaisa Makarainen fourth, Makarainen’s lead in the World Cup overall shrank to ten points. The title will be decided in a mass start tomorrow.
Despite a fall, Susan Dunklee gutted out her first World Cup podium in a biathlon sprint in Oslo today, pushing hard in the finishing stretch to unseat Olga Vilukhina by one second and take third place. “I’m not afraid of being on the podium or even winning one of these days,” Dunklee said after notching only the third-ever World Cup podium by a U.S. woman.
Johannes Thingnes Bø came into this season with a rifle painted solid gold. That might seem pretty cocky for a 20-year-old Norwegian in his first year on the senior national team, but this weekend Bø swept all the World Cup races, brought his win total to five for the season, and jumped into second place in the World Cup Total Score. Maybe gold is right after all.
In incredibly gusty conditions, Kaisa Mäkäräinen won the 10 k biathlon pursuit by a minute over Darya Domracheva of Belarus. Susan Dunklee of the U.S. moved from eighth up to seventh despite a whopping seven penalties, thanks in part to the second-fastest ski time of the day – and other racers’ struggles on the shooting range.
American Lowell Bailey broke through with the race of his career, tallying his first IBU World Cup podium in third in Saturday’s final sprint of the season. “I’ve been working towards this for ten years, twenty years,” Bailey says. Canadian Nathan Smith notched a career-best sprint, and all of the North American men made Sunday’s pursuit.
Kaisa Mäkäräinen made winning at home a habit in the second-straight IBU World Cup sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland, edging Tora Berger and Gabriela Soukalova, who both cleaned. Susan Dunklee rose to eighth for her second-best sprint result of the season and her career. Two other Americans and three Canadian women made Sunday’s pursuit.
The International Biathlon Union has for the first time confirmed that two athletes under investigation for doping since January are indeed Irina Starykh and Ekaterina Iourieva of Russia. The IBU announced that both women’s “B” samples had tested positive for EPO, and disciplinary hearings will be held in the next few weeks.
Bjorn Ferry may have mis-timed his Olympic peak, but that meant he has been able to enjoy an incredible weekend of World Cup racing in Pokljuka, Slovenia. Ferry bested Martin Fourcade of France with an elegant and well-timed downhill pass as the pair neared the stadium, followed by a furious sprint. “I can beat Ferry 99 times out of a hundred,” Fourcade said – but today he was wrong.
It would be easy to relax now that the Olympics are over – but the U.S. men’s biathlon team is doing anything but. Lowell Bailey placed 10th and Tim Burke 13th in today’s pursuit, while Leif Nordgren scored his first World Cup points of the season. “They still give the same amount of World Cup points for a win, and the prize money is still the same,” Burke laughed.