Doherty Starts Season With Top-20 Finish

Photos from the men's individual 20k race on Dec. 2, 2015, at BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden

Dec. 02, 2015, 1:11 p.m. (ET)

OESTERSUND, Sweden (December 2, 2015) - Twenty-year-old Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) turned in an impressive season-opening performance on Wednesday at the BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden. Doherty finished in 17th place among the 104 starters in the men's 20-kilometer race, hitting 18 of 20 targets and crossing the line in a time of 53:27.9. 

The result is an improvement of 30 places over Doherty's 47th-place finish in the same event at last season's IBU World Championships held just six months ago. On this night, Doherty missed one target at each of the prone stages but went clean in standing. His final time was 3:13.4 behind the legendary 41-year old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway who won the gold medal with clean shooting and a time of 50:14.5. The silver medal went to Germany's Simon Schempp, 27.1 seconds back with one penalty. Russia's Alexey Volkov claimed the bronze medal with clean shooting, 38.2 seconds back of Bjoerndalen.

"The race today was phenomenal," said Doherty. "I had great skis and felt strong on the course. I had no idea how well it was going until the last lap. I am super excited to start the season off on such a good note, and I am looking forward to the sprint."

Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) also had a strong start to the World Cup season, finishing 24th. He hit his first 15 targets and was challenging for a podium position before two misses at the final standing shooting stage knocked him back. His time of 53:58.6 was 3:44.1 off the winning pace.

"I'm happy with the start," Bailey said of his race. "The Oestersund individual is a brutal course, and always a tough kickoff to the World Cup season. Given that, and the tricky conditions on the range today, I'm happy with the start. Glad to see Sean have a good race today as well. This is by far the strongest team we have ever had."

Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) hit 17 of 20 targets to place 37th (54:51.1) while Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) was 104th (1:06:21.7/+13). The U.S. team finished sixth in Nations Cup points on the day. Full men's individual results are available here.

The BMW IBU World Cup 1 continues on Thursday with the women's 15-kilometer individual race taking place at 11:15 a.m. EST. Team USA will be represented by Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) and Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine). Live streaming coverage of the race can be seen here.

Men's 20km individual results

1. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) 50:14.5/+0
2. Simon Schempp (GER) 50:41.6/+1
3. Alexey Volkov (RUS) 50:52.7/+0
Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)
24.  Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) 53:58.6/+2
37. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 54:51.1/+3
104. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) 1:06:21.7/+13