Tim Burke’s silver medal-winning performance for the U.S. Biathlon team gave the Americans a big reason to celebrate on Thursday, but the team’s performance as a whole was worth noting, too. Three members finished in the top 30 — after Burke, Leif Nordgren took 22nd with two penalties and Lowell Bailey was 29th with three errors. Russell Currier was 60th with five penalties.
The U.S. Biathlon team is one that draws off each other’s success, and when one of its members is out having the race of his life it inspires the rest of the group. Nordgren caught glimpses of Burke when the two overlapped in the stadium, and the sight of his friend and teammate making American history spurred him around the course.
“I was actually able to watch him finish as I was skiing out of the stadium which I thought was kind of funny, it definitely gave me a little extra motivation for my final loops!” Nordgren said.
Though dissatisfied with two misses on the range, Nordgren was overall “really happy” with his race. He finished 3:06 behind Fourcade’s winning time and felt fast on his skis right from the gun.
“Two misses was a bit of a bummer, for sure I would have liked to have one less, but that’s just how it goes,” Nordgren said. “I was pretty happy with my skiing as well, I tried to be aggressive right off the bat today, I think it worked out pretty well, we had really awesome skis too so that helped a lot.”
It snowed in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic, earlier this week, but on Thursday conditions were clear and the track was firm, if not entirely fast.
“The course held up really nicely,” Nordgren said. “There was something like 136 starters here this week. In the other days the course has really obviously broke down and gotten much slower throughout the race, today I think it pretty much stayed the same. There was a little bit of new snow that fell over the last few days [so] it was pretty slow, but like I said, our skis were on fire today!”
Bailey, who finished 3:26 behind the leaders in 29th, had mixed feelings about his result.
“Of course, three penalties doesn’t help, but I had one of the best ski times of the year,” he said. “Overall it was a solid effort, but at World Champs you need to be perfect.”
Bailey posted the 20th-fastest course time overall, but the penalty time cost him. The effort was still enough to qualify him for the mass start on Sunday, though. The U.S. will start two men, Burke and Bailey, in the final event of World Championships.
“Happy to be racing on Sunday!” Bailey said.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.