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Doherty’s 13th Paces U.S. in World Youth and Junior Pursuits in Finland

Sean Doherty of Conway, New Hampshire led the U.S. team in the culminating pursuit competitions at World Youth and Junior Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland today.

Based on Friday’s sprint, Doherty started the youth men’s 10 k pursuit in 13th position, and that’s where he finished. Along the way he picked up five penalties and dropped as low as 27th before using fast skiing and a clean final stage to move back up to 13th. Doherty had the tenth-best ski time of the day. Sam Dougherty slipped from 35th to 42nd on the back of four penalties, and Nick Proell missed six shots to drop from 40th to 56th.

In the junior men’s 12.5 k pursuit, Ethan Dreissigacker was hoping to capitalize on his 20th place finish in the sprint, which had tied his career best and was the best finish for and American junior male all week. In the pursuit, however, he missed six shots and slipped to 30th. Casey Smith moved up one spot from 47th to 46th.

Only three U.S. women qualified for the pursuits, and none had spectacular races. The lone youth in the 7.5 k pursuit, Tara Geraghty-Moates, like Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club teammate Dreissigacker had hoped to improve on her career-best 18th place sprint result. Instead, Geraghty-Moates’ inexperience showed as she racked up nine penalties and fell to 42nd. In the junior women’s 10 k pursuit, Kimberly Del Frate maintained her 55th-place position while twin sister Amanda moved from 60th up to 59th.

Stay tuned for more reports from the pursuit competitions later today.

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Russia’s Billionaire Biathlon Boss Raps…. Badly

Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire who owns the New Jersey Nets, runs the Russian Biathlon Union, and is running for his country’s presidency, rapped on a comedy show. The lyrics include “our English is bad,” which is accurate; Prokhorov appears in the video to find the humor in his skills or lack thereof. Here’s hoping that there’s a rap battle among federation heads at World Championships… In other Prokhorov news, the oligarch’s relationship with Vladimir Putin is examined in this week’s New Yorker. arthritis

Wenzel Wins Individual Race at World Juniors for Canada

21-year-old Calgary native Kutis Wenzel picked up the second World Junior Championships win of his career on Tuesday, missing a single shot en route to a 42-second victory in the 15 k individual race in Kontiolahti, Finland. Previously, Wenzel had won the sprint and placed third in the pursuit at 2009 World Youth Championships in Canmore, Alberta. He only finished one race at the 2010 event and did not compete in 2011. Wenzel was the only competitor in the field to miss only one shot, and only three, including second-place Marius Hol of Norway, missed two. Wenzel also had the tenth-fastest ski time of the day. Look for a full writeup of the race on FasterSkier later today. Results: junior men’s individual / women’s arthritis

A Valentines Message from Lowell Bailey and the IBU

For this week’s “biathlon buzz” feature, the IBU made a video featuring U.S. biathlete Lowell Bailey’s rendition of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love,” with candid footage of an all-star cast of athletes singing along…. for better or for worse. Let’s just say that Bailey is probably the only one with any future as a musician! Check out the video on the IBU website. arthritis

“Keep On Walking” Video in Kontiolahti; Kocher Funding Clarified

– When the athletes’ bus got stuck in traffic on the way to a World Cup race in Kontiolahti, Finland, the women’s biathlon field hopped out and walked the final two kilometers to the venue even though the temperature was hovering in the single digits. Canadian racer Zina Kocher made a short video of the experience and posted it on her facebook fan page; it also features Americans Annelies Cook, Sara Studebaker, and Susan Dunklee, modeling physio tape on their faces and carrying rifles on their backs and backpacks on their front. You can watch it here. – Biathlon Canada High Performance Director Chris Lindsay has clarified Kocher’s funding status. In this weekend’s race reports, FasterSkier reported that Kocher was traveling separately from the team, with personal coach Richard Boruta; while it’s true that the Kontiolahti races were not part of the national team program and the rest of the…

Bailey, Currier 5th & 6th in Kontiolahti, 10 & 15 Seconds From Win

The U.S. biathlon team continued its run at the top, placing all four starters in the top 20 in the men’s 10 k sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland this morning. Lowell Bailey and Russell Currier led the way in 5th and 6th. Bailey had one penalty and finished 9.8 seconds behind race winner Martin Fourcade of France, while Currier shot clean to land 15.3 seconds back. Tim Burke and Jay Hakkinen missed a shot apiece to finish 13th and 16th. In the women’s race, Zina Kocher of Canada and Sara Studebaker of the U.S. each had their best days of the season, placing 12th and 15th. Kocher’s finish came despite two penalties, while Studebaker used clean shooting to achieve the result. Annelies Cook placed 39th with one penalty while Susan Dunklee struggled on the range, missing five of ten shots and placing 65th. Full race reports to follow later today. arthritis

Extreme Cold Forces Changes at Kontiolahti World Cup

The temperature at the biathlon stadium in Kontiolahti, Finland checked in at -26 Celsius (about -15 Fahrenheit) on Thursday morning, prompting the organizing to announce some changes to the race schedule. The races have been moved to the warmest part of the day, generally starting between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time. Organizers also decided to change the mixed relay course, avoiding a section that runs along a lake and is even more frigid then the rest of the course. The start list for Friday’s mixed relay is already posted, and it appears that most teams will be benching their best athletes, who are worried about how to stay healthy in such cold weather. Among the traditional favorites, Sweden will be starting more or less its usual team, and Ukraine and Russia will also have several stars in the lineup. The U.S. will start Sara Studebaker, Annelies Cook, Jay…

Oslo Roundup: North Americans Talk About a Great Weekend

The past weekend of racing in Oslo, Norway was pretty successful for North American biathletes. Here’s what a few of them had to say about it: -Canada’s Jean Philippe Le Guellec wasn’t even supposed to start the mass start – he was the sixth reserve. But he got luck, nabbed a bib, and went on to finish 12th after skiing in the top six for a period of time. He said that his third race of the weekend was pretty tiring: “The race itself went rather well in general,” Le Guellec told FasterSkier in an e-mail. “But, as you pointed out, my ski shape started to fade mighty fast after the first lap. It also didn’t help that my skis weren’t as fast as in the previous races. Fresh snow had fallen throughout the night and my skis didn’t seem to respond quite well to the fresh sheet. I had…

Henkel Tops in Oslo Mass Start

Germany’s Andrea Henkel took her first World Cup victory of the season in Oslo today, winning the 12.5 k mass start at Holmenkollen by almost 30 seconds over Darya Domracheva of Belarus. Henkel had one penalty in the very first shooting stage, but shot clean after that and worked her way up through the field, taking the lead after the third shooting stage and never relinquishing it. It was the 21st World Cup victory for the 34-year-old German, who is also a World Championships and Olympic gold medalist. Henkel has said she will compete through the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but hadn’t had an excellent season so far. “It is nice to win any time,” she said in a press conference today “It is good to be back on the top… It would be nice to be on the podium more often.” Domracheva finished second despite four shooting penalties….

Burke: 6th Place Was a Good 30th Birthday Present

American Tim Burke’s comments about his 6th-place finish in the Oslo World Cup pursuit didn’t make it into our race report, but here’s what he had to say. On Friday, Burke turned 30, and he said that his best finish of the season was a good birthday present: “Today was a great way to bring in my 30th year,” he wrote in an e-mail. “This was my first zero-penalty four-stage World Cup race, so I guess it just took me this long to figure out that avoiding the penalty loop makes racing much easier!” Perhaps the best news is that Burke, who raced from 15th position up to 6th, didn’t think he was on top of his game yet. “I felt pretty good on the course today but I don’t feel like I am in my best shape,” he said. “I think I am still feeling the effects of a…