Cook Opens World Cup 6 With Top 20 Finish
ANTHOLZ-ANTERSELVA,Italy (January 16, 2013) - Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) had a career-best 18th place finish and the top performance for Team USA in today's 7.5-kilometer sprint at World Cup 6 in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy. Starting with bib 5, out of a field of 102 competitors, Cook shot clean in prone and missed her first shot in standing, crossing the finish with a time of 21:38.9 for a three-way tie for 18th place with Marie Laure Brunet (FRA) and Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland (NOR). Cook's career-best performance today - following her previous personal-best 26th place in last week's 7.5k sprint in Ruhpolding - was just 40 seconds behind the skiing time of today's winner, Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina. "Today was really fun for me," said Cook. "I was nervous and excited to start 5th because I have never done that, but the up side for me was that I knew I could wave to my parents on the start line. I realize that is pretty dorky, but when they still get up in the middle of the night to watch me race, I always feel a little better if they at least get to see me.
I love this course. It suits the way that I ski with lots of V2 and powerful strong skiing rather than steep uphills. I also like how altitude feels. I was very aware that altitude can change shooting and make it trickier because you don't have as much oxygen and sometimes your eyes blur. It can have a much bigger affect that one might think. I tried really hard to relax and keep that in mind. I had a good ride with Kaisa Makkarainen and tried to keep her in my sights as she skied two loops around me. I think that helped when I started to get tired. There was a lot of great cheering to get me around the course on that last lap too. The coaches kept yelling that every second counts," added Cook, who finished just two seconds out of 14th place.
Kuzmina won today's sprint with clean shooting and a time of 20:28.6, Kaisa Mäkäräinen (FIN) finished 16.7 seconds back, with a single penalty to take second with a time of 20:45.3. Darya Domracheva (BLR) finished third with one penalty and a time of 20:50.5.
After two weeks of challenging weather in Germany, the conditions in Antholz-Anterselva were finally sunny and clear, with a slight breeze at range. Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID), started with bib 23, missed a shot each in in prone and standing, posting a finish time of 22:33.9 for 46th place. Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT), started today with bib 58, missed two shots in prone, and picked up one penalty in standing to cross the finish with a time of 22:39.4, taking 49th. place
Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT) made her World Cup debut today with bib 86, cleaning her first round in prone. At standing, Dreissigacker hit one target, picking up four penalties and finishing with a time of 23:42.9 for 81st place. Extended results from today's 7.5k sprint are available here.
"It was a very, very good performance for Annelies today," said Bernd Eisenbichler, US Biathlon's high performance director. "Today's performances by the women continue to show that we have several strong contenders for top results. I was also really happy with Hannah and the way she approached her first World Cup race, as well as Susan and Sara's performances. Today was a good day for Team USA's women by earning Nation's Cup points and showing we are on the way up."
Team USA's men will race tomorrow's 10k sprint beginning at 8:30am (ET), which will be webcast live here. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) will start with bib 13, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) bib 20, Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN) bib 34, Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) bib 65, and Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) bib 89. Tomorrow's start list and race results will be available here.