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The World Military Skiing Championships continued today in Sodankyla, Finland, with the premier event: 7.5 and 10 k sprints in biathlon. Many of the world’s top biathletes are supported by their country’s military, and the start list could almost have been that of a World Cup. The men’s field comprised 60 athletes, by far the most competitive event of the whole Championships.

And it came as no surprise that Martin Fourcade of France, who this season won several World Cup races, Olympic gold medals, and the overall World Cup score, emerged on top. With a single penalty, Fourcade was 22 seconds ahead of Tomas Kaukenas of Lithuania in the men’s 10 k sprint this morning. Simon Eder of Austria, who won the World Cup pursuit in Oslo just a few days ago, placed third. The top ten was filled with other athletes who had shone in recent weekends of World Cup racing: Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia in fifth, Lars Berger of Norway in sixth, Alexei Slepov and Alexander Loginov of Russia in seventh and ninth, Simon Desthiex of France in eighth.

Wynn Roberts of National Guard Biathlon placed 23rd for the United States, 2:16.5 behind Fourcade. Jordan McElroy, Jacob Dalberg, and Blake Hillerson placed 53rd, 56th, and 58th.

In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, Anais Bescond, a French athlete who took her first World Cup win this season, took home a 4.2-second victory over Germany’s Nadine Horchler. Again, there were plenty of familiar World Cup faces near the top with Poland’s Krystyna Palka and Magdalena Gwizdon going 3-4; Slovenia’s Andreja Mali and Teja Gregorin placing fifth and eighth; Open European Champion Mona Brorsson of Sweden sixth and France’s Sophie Boilley seventh.

Gregorin, who hit the podium in Oslo, had said at the time that she was extremely tired but couldn’t rest until after the military championships and her own national championships back in Slovenia. Though the World Cup season is over, some of the athletes will continue racing through the middle of April.

Results: men / women

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OSLO, Norway— Simon Eder of Austria used perfect 20-for-20 shooting to move from sixth place to the top of the podium in today’s 12.5 k World Cup pursuit, notching his first victory since the 2008-2009 season.

“I hoped to make some points for the Total Score, to make the top 10 was a goal for me,” he said in a press conference. “That I could get the victory was really crazy.”

Eder had a 23-second lead over Bjorn Ferry of Sweden and Alexander Loginov of Russia when he left the range for the final time.

“I just thought, make a fast first kilometer to make the others think they couldn’t catch me,” he explained. “So the last kilometer was really nice because I knew if I didn’t crash, they couldn’t catch me.”

Loginov outsprinted Ferry up the final hill and then cruised down into the stadium to secure second place.

“The fourth loop, Alexander, I thought he was a little bit tired,” Ferry said. “The last hill he was like superman. I had no chance when he made the attack.”

Results

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Kaisa Makarainen won her second-straight race at her home World Cup in Kontiolahti, Finland, racing to a 6.2-second victory in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint ahead of Norway’s Tora Berger on Saturday.

Makarainen had a single prone penalty en route to the win in 20:53.6, and Berger shot clean for second. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic also cleaned to place third, another 6.7 seconds back.

American Susan Dunklee rose to her second-best sprint result of the season and her career in eighth (+35.7) with one standing miss.

Rosanna Crawford was 16th for Canada with a single standing penalty.

Hannah Dreissigacker placed 41st for the U.S., Canadian Zina Kocher 54th, and American Sara Studebaker 58th. Megan Heinicke (Canada) was 60th and Annelies Cook (USA) placed 76th.

Racing wraps up with the men’s and women’s pursuits on Sunday.

Results

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In a race of speed as much as perfection, American Lowell Bailey achieved his first World Cup podium on Saturday in the second-straight sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland, placing third with clean shooting, 19.4 seconds behind Norwegian winner Johannes Thingnes Bø.

Along with the top-four men, Bø cleaned the two-stage race and finished in 24:03.5. An early starter in bib 4, he never lost the lead, besting Russian runner-up Alexander Loginov by 18.5 seconds.

Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic placed fourth, just 0.3 seconds behind Bailey.

“And the word the comes to mind is… ‘FINALLY!!!!!’ ” Bailey tweeted on Saturday. “Thanks to the best biathlon staff/teammates in the world @USBiathlon. #longtimecoming

Canada’s Nathan Smith tied his career best in eighth with one prone penalty, finishing 33.6 seconds back from Bø. It was Smith’s best-ever sprint after placing eighth in the pursuit in Annecy, France, earlier this season.

Tim Burke was 19th for the U.S. (1+1) and Leif Nordgren 27th — one place away from tying his career-best sprint result. Canada’s Brendan Green was 28th and teammate Scott Gow finished 42nd.

Racing wraps up with the men’s and women’s pursuits on Sunday.

Results

IBU post-race interview with Bailey (video) 

 

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The International Biathlon Union (IBU) held elections for the Athletes Committee at the Sochi Olympics, and the results have now been announced. Ole Einar Bjørndalen of Norway and Darya Domracheva of Belarus were re-elected, and Lowell Bailey of the United States and Aita Gasparin of Switzerland were elected for the first time.

“honored to represent the athletes of the IBU World Cup and looking forward to helping our sport move forward!” Bailey tweeted about the election.

Bailey, a three-time Olympian, and Gasparin, who is just 20 years old, will replace Christoph Sumann of Austria and Olga Zaitseva of Russia.

“The Athletes’ Committee is composed of two female and two male athletes who are appointed by the Executive Board upon proposals of those athletes,” the IBU states on its website. “This Committee is intended to act as a link between the active athletes and the IBU bodies, and acts in full autonomy. The Athletes’ Committee is called upon to take care of the interests of the active athletes.”

IBU Press Release

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International Biathlon Union Cup 8 was held in unseasonably warm conditions, with sloppy tracks and light winds characterizing the event in Kontiolahti, Finland. Hometown girl Kaisa Makarainen didn’t shoot clean, but she was fast enough to win (20:36.3, 0+1) on the 7.5-kilometer course, followed by Russia’s Olga Zaitseva (+6.1) and Finn Mari Laukkanen (+22.7), both of whom shot clean.

The men benefited from calmer winds but suffered sloppier tracks, with Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe shooting clean to take first in 23:33.2 on the 10 k course, followed by French star Martin Fourcade (+7.1) and German Arnd Peiffer, who had one penalty in prone (+7.2, 0+1).

Canadian Rosanna Crawford was the top North American woman, finishing 1:05.8 off the pace to take 13th, with one penalty in prone. Megan Heinicke’s was 15th (1+0), making two Canadian women in the top 15, followed by another Canadian, Zina Kocher, in 23rd (1+1). The top American was Hannah Dreissigacker in 28th (0+1), followed by Americans Susan Dunklee in 29th (1+3), Annelies Cook in 75th (1+4), and Sara Studebaker in 80th (3+3).

The top North American man today was another Canadian, Nathan Smith, finishing in 21st 1:05.4 off the pace, with one penalty in standing. He was followed by teammate Brendan Green in 26th (1+0), Americans Lowell Bailey in 29th (1+1), Tim Burke in 35th (0+1) and Leif Nordgren in 55th (0+2). Canadian Scott Gow was 59th (2+0).

Competition continues on Saturday with a pursuit.

Results: Men | Women

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On the second lap of today’s 12.5 k mass start, Darya Domracheva of Belarus sent a message that she was serious about winning her first World Cup competition of the weekend in Pokljuka, Slovenia.

Skiing with a pack of athletes who had shot clean through the first prone stage, Domracheva upped the pace and strung out the pack. Sure, she missed a shot on the next bout – but then she went on the warpath, and after a clean third stage was a clean leader. Loop after loop, she skied the fastest course times. Domrachave built her lead even further, so that when she missed a shot in the final standing she was all but guaranteed a victory (it helped that Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia, in second at the time, missed two shots of her own).

Domrachava looked exhausted and was gasping for air on the final loop – where finally her loop time dropped to seventh – but held on for the win and carried the Belorussian flag across the finish line.

Behind her, Olga Zaitseva of Russia had left the range in second place. But Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, the winner of yesterday’s pursuit, ate up her gap almost immediately, closing 18 seconds and blowing by Zaitseva on an uphill. She went on to cut into Domracheva’s lead, but was stuck in second place at the finish. She had put 13 more seconds on Zaitseva, who held on for third.

Rosanna Crawford of Canada, the lone North American starter in the 30-woman competition, ran into trouble right off the bat with four penalties in the first shooting stage. That put her in last place and with three more penalties in the first standing stage, for seven total, she stayed in 30th at the finish.

Results

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It was a double victory for Russia on the first day of junior racing at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine.

Evgeniya Pavlova was one of two women to clean the two-stage 7.5-kilometer sprint. Kelsey Joan Dickinson of the U.S. was the other in 22nd, 2:17 behind Pavlova in first. Pavlova edged Kazakhstan’s Galina Vishnevskaya by just 0.3 seconds for the win. Vishnevskaya placed second with a single standing penalty, and Germany’s Annika Knoll was 38.7 seconds back in third.

During the race, Pavlova took the lead over Knoll, then awaited her fate while Vishnevskaya took a half-second lead with a clean prone. The penalty put her 22 seconds behind with 1 k to go, but Vishnevskaya closed hard, coming within hundredths of a second of the win.

“I thought until the last meter that I might win,” Vishnevskaya said, according to an IBU press release. “My coaches told me on the tracks that I was getting closer all of the time.”

“I was very nervous watching as Galina came to the finish,” Pavlova said. “I still have not realized that I am World Champion.”

Temperatures were almost as cold as Friday at the start of the women’s race, rising from -11 at dawn to 5 degrees Fahrenheit at go-time, according to the press release. The wind was much less of an issue, however, with a gentle breeze blowing across the range.

Two Russians landed in the top three of the men’s 10 k sprint, with Alexander Povarnitsyn racing to the victory with a single standing penalty. Eduard Latypov took bronze with two misses, one in each stage, finishing 16.5 seconds after his teammate.

Norway’s Tore Leren was the only man to hit all 10 targets and notched second, 13.4 seconds back.

The Russian squad has been in Presque Isle for more than two weeks, and Povarnitsyn said training there has paid off.

“We had plenty of time to adjust to the nine-hour time difference,” he told IB. “We had plenty of time to learn these tracks, which are quite technical. Earlier this week, we worked on how to handle the technical turns.”

Canada’s Carsen Campbell led the North Americans in 14th with two standing penalties to finish 1:35.1 behind the winner.

As for the rest of the North American men, Canada’s Christian Gow placed 21st (2+0), American  Tyler Mark Gustafson took 43rd (1+1), Canada’s Brett Davie was 49th (3+1), Jakob Ellingson of the U.S. was 53rd (1+1), Canada’s Stuart Harden was 54th (0+4), and American Jacob Dalberg was 56th (3+1).

After Dickinson, Canada’s Erin Yungblut placed 36th (1+1), American Tara Geraghty-Moats was 42nd (2+3), and Canada’s Rose-Marie Cote was disqualified.

Results: Women | Men

Complete schedule

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SOCHI, Russia – With her 34th-place performance in the 15 k individual race today, Susan Dunklee has qualified for the 30-woman mass start to be held on Monday here at the Olympics.

The top 15 ranked biathletes in the world are guaranteed spots, as well as any other medalists from the Olympics so far. The 13 remaining spots are handed out to the athletes who have done best in the sprint, pursuit, and individual races combined. With 14th place in the sprint and 18th place in the pursuit in addition to her result in the individual, Dunklee earned bib number 26.

In doing so, Dunklee is making history before she even starts the race: since the event’s introduction at the 2006 Olympics, no American woman has ever qualified for the mass start.

Megan Imrie of Canada is the fourth reserve if any athletes decline their entry. At least two athletes on the start list, Andrea Henkel of Germany and Olga Vilukhina of Russia, sat out today’s individual race due to illness.

Darya Domracheva of Belarus, who has won two gold medals at this Games so far, is the defending World Champion in the discipline.

Notably included on the list are Swiss sisters Selina and Elisa Gasparin; Switzerland, too, has never before been represented in the discipline at the Olympics. Notably not include is Synnøve Solemdal of Norway, who had a podium finish in a World Cup mass start in Oberhof, Germany, earlier this season, but is having a poor Olympic showing so far.

provisional start list

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SOCHI, Russia – There are two ways to qualify for the 30-man mass start at the Olympics. The first is through steady results all season, and landing in the top 15 of the World Cup Total Score. The second, and significantly more nerve-wracking, way is to compete your heart out at the Games themselves and be among the next 15 best skiers in the sprint, pursuit, and individual.

Five North Americans made this second, more arduous way, work for them. With strong performances at the Games, Nathan Smith, Jean Philippe Le Guellec, and Brendan Green of Canada earned their way into Sunday’s 15 k. And Americans Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke did the same, snagging the last two spots available in the race.

Burke earned his spot because five Russians made the cut, but Olympic starts are limited to four athletes per country in each race.

As such, North America will make up fully 1/6 of the field in the prestigious mass start.

The North Americans are on the rise. Four years ago in Vancouver, Burke and Jeremy Teela represented the U.S. in the mass start, while Le Guellec was the only Canadian to qualify. And four years before that, American Jay Hakkinen was the only one to represent the western hemisphere.

Other interesting notes from the start list: Norway’s Tarjei Bø, who won the mass start at the last World Championships, did not earn a start right. His younger brother Johannes Thingnes Bø did, and told NRK that he wished his brother could have the start instead. Neither Bø has had a top ten at this Olympics so far; Johannes is ranked 7th in the World Cup and Tarjei 17th.

Germany’s usual top racer, Andreas Birnbacher, is also not on the list.

The start list, as it currently stands, is posted here.

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