OBERHOF, Germany (January 4, 2013) - Team USA capped an exciting Relay today with a fifth place finish posting a time of 1:22:20.3 (0+8 0+3) in Oberhof, tying their best World Cup Relay finish in the post Soviet or modern-biathlon era. Amid fog, wind and rain, Team USA's men (Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME), and Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN)) remained in podium contention throughout the entire race, leading with a 2nd place position after Burke's second leg.
Russia (Volkov, Garanichev, Shipulin, Malyshko) won today's Relay with a time of 1:20:35.7 (0+5 0+7), edging Norway (L'Abee-Lund, Bjoerndalen, Bjoentegaard, Svendsen), who led through the final leg, in second posting 1:20:44.1(0+1+ 1+7). Germany (Schempp, Lesser, Peiffer, Graf) took third with a time of 1:21:15.0 (1+8+0+1).
Bailey raced the first leg for Team USA, cleaning both stages in prone, and 4 extras needed in standing. Bailey tagged to Burke in seventh, just 12 seconds out of second place. With strong skiing, shooting clean with one extra round (0+0,0+1), and an amazing sprint to pass Germany just before the tag, Burke propelled Team USA to second place following the second leg and tagged to Currier, marking the the first time Currier has taken a tag in podium position. Currier skied strong to keep in the mix for second with Germany and Ukraine. The challenging weather and course conditions made it tough on the downhills, but Currier left prone with two extra shots and tied for second with Russia. Currier cleaned standing with one extra shot, tagging to Nordgren in fifth place, just 30 seconds back from Norway in the lead. Nordgren kept a solid hold on fifth for Team USA with three extra shots needed in prone, then cleaning his final standing stage and crossing the finish 1:44.6 behind Russia.
"Today was a great day for our team," said Burke. "I think we all wanted to show that we are much better than our 16th place finish from the last Relay. I was very impressed that Russ and Leif held it together under such pressure, especially in front of 20,000 spectators. I was happy with my race and I think this was a perfect tune up for the weekend."
"The race for me went OK," said Nordgren. "I skied pretty much the whole race on my own. In some regards that was kind of nice, it gave me a chance to focus solely on my own race, and as it was the first race back after the break that was a good thing. I had had some problems in the first trimester, so it was good for me to do my own thing. Otherwise, it was a little bit of a bummer skiing on my own. To be up towards the front on such a big relay but not quite with the group, a little disappointing... but I'm not complaining!"
"It was an exciting race today, everything I expect from the Oberhof World Cup experience," added Bailey. "The course was really hard and salt-infused in some places and soft and slushy where they didn't put any salt on it. There was rain, wind, and a decent amount of fog thrown in for good measure. I feel pretty good about my leg. I haven't been able to train at full capacity as I'm still dealing with a broken toe. The good thing is that I can skate without much pain. I would have liked to hit a few more targets in the first prone, but it seemed like whole field shot poorly that first stage and I was able to exit the range still within contention. Tim did a great job bringing us back up to the top of the field, and Russ and Leif both has solid races to help us to the fifth place. I'm psyched and I know we can improve with this lineup with the relays to come!"
"It was a great day and a great return to the World Cup after Christmas break," said US Biathlon Head Coach Per Nilsson. "It was a solid team effort, and good to see our team up there fighting against the best nations throughout the race."
"There were three things that stood out for me today, the team kept calm and executed in very challenging conditions, Lowell and Tim have the ski speed to challenge anyone in the Relay, and Russell and Leif showed great maturity managing their legs with some of the world's top biathletes," said US Biathlon CEO Max Cobb. " A great day for the athletes and the wonderful World Cup Team staff that support them."
Extended results from today's Relay are available here.
Team USA returns to the course in Oberhof for tomorrow's Sprint events. Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT) will start for Team USA with bib 21, Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) with bib 35, and Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) with bib 73. The women's 7.5k Sprint starts at 8:30am (ET). The women's start list and results will be available here. The men's 10k Sprint kicks off at 11:45am (ET), Bailey will start with bib 3, Burke bib 7, Currier bib 74, and Nordgren bib 82. The men's start list and results will be available here. Watch both races live here.