IBU World Cup (PyeongChang, South Korea): Men’s 10 k sprint
US Biathlon’s Lowell Bailey kept his clean-shooting streak alive with another one of his personal best results on Friday, racing to second in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Bailey started 81st and hit all 10 targets in the two-stage race to cross the finish line in first, 4.7 seconds ahead of France’s Martin Fourcade, who locked up the 2016/2017 overall World Cup title with an eventual third-place finish on Friday.
An even later starter in bib 90, Austria’s Julian Eberhard rocketed to his third-career World Cup victory (and second win this season), cleaning both stages and topping Bailey’s time by 40.7 seconds. That bumped Bailey to second place and Fourcade to third, for Bailey’s second World Cup podium this season (including his win in the 20 k individual at IBU World Championships).
In the last five non-relay races, including four at World Championships, Bailey has not placed outside the top six. And in all of those races, he’s only had one miss.
Bailey is up to ninth in the World Cup Total Score standings. Fourcade ran away with the season-long title in first, now that he’s 360 points ahead of Russia’s Anton Shipulin in second.
While Eberhard and Bailey shot clean on Friday, Fourcade missed two — one on each stage (1+1) — but made up for it with the fastest course time. Eberhard had the second-fastest course time and fastest shooting time of the 102-man field.
Austria nearly had two on the podium with Dominik Landertinger finishing fourth (+48.1), 2.7 seconds out of third, with clean shooting.
Three Canadians finished in the top 60 to qualify for Saturday’s pursuit, with Scott Gow in 27th (+1:40.3) with two penalties (1+1), Brendan Green following in 28th (+1:42.1) with one miss (0+1) for his first individual top 30 of the season, and Christian Gow in 56th (+2.33.6) with two prone penalties (2+0). Nathan Smith finished 88th (+3:32.5) with two standing misses (0+2) in his first World Cup race since early December, and Macx Davies finished 98th (+4:20.2) with four penalties (3+1).
For the U.S., Leif Nordgren placed 37th (+2:03.7) with two misses (1+1) to qualify for the pursuit, along with Bailey. Sean Doherty was 80th (+3:13.3) with two penalties (1+1) and Paul Schommer 101st (+4:38.1) with five misses (3+2).
FIS Nordic World Championships (Lahti, Finland): Nordic Combined 2 x 7.5 k team sprint
[UPDATED] Johannes Rydzek and Team Germany completed the World Championships sweep on Friday, with Rydzek teaming up with Eric Frenzel to win the final nordic-combined competition of 2017 Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland: the 2 x 7.5-kilometer team sprint.
Rydzek won all four NoCo competitions over the past week, including two individual events and two team events.
On Friday, he and Frenzel, the defending World Cup champion, jumped to second and started the 2 x 7.5 k cross-country race 16 seconds behind France’s Maxime Laheurte and François Braud, who jumped to first. The Frenchmen both posted jumps of 125 meters for a total of 264.2 points. Frenzel and Rydzek, meanwhile, scored 256.1 points after jumps of 125.5 and 122 meters.
The Germans pulled off a 1-second win over Norway, finishing in 28:45.8 minutes, while Norway’s Magnus Moan and Magnus Krog claimed silver after starting the ski race in fourth, 24 seconds behind France. Together, the Norwegians posted the fastest course time, and Moan skied the fastest 7.5 k (13:53).
“It’s still unbelievable,” Rydzek told German broadcaster ARD. “The race today was so suspenseful again, down to the last curve with the lapped athlete [Russia]. I knew that I am very fast on the homestretch, and had explicitly looked at that section before the race. Eric did a great job today, and despite all circumstances pointing against us we managed to do it again today. Just cool to be back on the top of the podium with Eric.”
Just a couple hundred meters before the finish, Rydzek used the moment when they approached the lapped Russian athlete to slingshot between him and Krog and gained a decisive edge.
“I was scared of that situation with the lapped athlete, because that was really close,” Frenzel told ARD. “I thought, ‘What is he doing out there?’ But in the end you can rely on Johannes to solve that like a world champion, that was top.
“We knew ahead of time that Lahti suits us well, that we can be good here if the conditions work out,” he added. “So we are very happy to be able to go home with so many medals.”
Japan took the final spot on the podium after brothers Yoshito and Akito Watabe jumped to third, started 18 seconds after France, and held their position to finish for third place, 10.2 seconds after Germany.
Austria’s Wilhelm Denifl and Bernhard Gruber missed bronze by half a second in fourth (+10.7) after starting in fifth, and France ended up fifth (+11.5).
Nearly a minute later, Italy placed sixth (+1:10.6) and Finland seventh (+1:10.7). The Czech Republic followed in eighth (+1:26.4), and the U.S. was ninth (+1:48.1) with Bryan and Taylor Fletcher after starting 12th and 2:08 out of first. The Fletcher brothers recorded the second-fastest course time out of 14 teams.
“Taylor did a good job stepping up in competition and it gave me motivation to step up as well,” Bryan said, according to a U.S. Ski Team press release. “Unfortunately I wanted it a little too much and didn’t have the jump I am capable of.
“The races went well but we were just too far back,” he continued. “We had the second fastest time as a team overall, which is solid and continually shows our strength on that side of the sport.”
FIS Nordic World Championships (Lahti, Finland): Men’s 4 x 10 k relay
The men’s 4 x 10-kilometer relay as the last team event of 2017 Nordic World Championships came down to a two-way battle for gold between none other than Norway and Russia on Friday in Lahti, Finland,
The two teams skied in either first or second throughout the four-leg race, with Russia’s Andrey Larkov tagging Alexander Bessmertnykh 2.9 seconds ahead of Norway’s first leg Didrik Tønseth, then Bessmertnykh coming through the second exchange just half a second ahead of Norway’s Niklas Dyrhaug.
Behind them, Finland skied alone in third place at the race’s halfway point, but was ultimately swallowed by the chase pack on the third leg.
On that third leg, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby worked hard to drop Russia’s Alexey Chervotkin, and eventually did so, coming through the final exchange 17.7 seconds ahead. That gave Norway’s anchor Finn Hågen Krogh just enough of a gap on Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, and he was able to hold off Ustiugov by 4.6 seconds at the finish to give Norway the gold in 1:37:20.1 hours.
Russia claimed silver and Sweden outlasted Switzerland for bronze after Calle Halfvarsson attacked in the final kilometer to drop Finland’s Matti Heikkinen and Germany’s Lucas Bögl. Halfvarsson finished 2:31.8 minutes out of first, and just 0.2 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Curdin Perl for third place for Sweden (which included teammates Daniel Rickardsson, Johan Olsson and Marcus Hellner).
Switzerland was fourth (+2:32) with Jason Rueesch, Jonas Baumann, Dario Cologna and Perl, Finland fifth (+2:42.4) with Sami Jauhojärvi, Niskanen, Lari Lehtonen, and Heikkinen, and Germany sixth (+2:42.8) with Thomas Bing, Jonas Dobler, Florian Notz, and Bögl.
France finished seventh (+3:52), Italy eighth (+5:29.8), Kazakhstan ninth (+5:30.6), and the U.S. 10th (+5:31.3). The U.S. team (Kyle Bratrud, Erik Bjornsen, Tad Elliott, Simi Hamilton) skied in 11th for most of the race before Hamilton moved them up to 10th with the sixth-fastest anchor leg.
Canada (Graeme Killick, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Len Valjas) ended up 12th after being lapped on the last leg. In 14th at the first exchange, Kershaw moved them up to 13th, then Harvey put them in 12th with one leg to go.