Pyeong Chang, Korea – Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) turned in an outstanding 23rd place today in the Women’s 15K Individual at the Biathlon World Championships. The 23rd place is a personal best for Johnson at the World Cup level and the best US women’s result at World Championships since Rachel Steer placed 17th in the Pursuit in 2005.
Johnson cleaned the first three stages, before missing on her 19th shot in the 20-shot competition. That was her only penalty of the night. Coach Per Nilsson commented after she cleaned her third stage, “Haley is really in the zone tonight.”
She finished 3:24.6 behind Kati Wilhelm of Germany, who also had one penalty. The victory for Wilhelm was her first-ever in an Individual competition. Her time of 43:00.1 was 39.5 seconds ahead of Teja Gregorin of Slovenia and 58.6 seconds ahead of Tora Berger of Norway. The three medalists all had one penalty.
Johnson commented on her breakthrough after the competition. “I did a lot of things differently tonight from other competitions. I have been working very hard for this. In the last stage, I missed the fourth shot, but I knew I had one left and I hit it.”
Matching Johnson on the shooting range was Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) who also had one penalty. Barnes’ penalty came in the first prone stage. She finished 42nd, 5:28.5 back; while her sister Tracy, with two penalties finished 59th, 7:10 back and Carolyn Treacy Bramante, (Duluth, MN) was 64th, 7:52 back.
The start list for the Men’s 15k Mass Start on Saturday was released today. Both Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) made the cut. The 30-man field is comprised of the combined top results from the Sprint, Individual, and Pursuit competitions.