Egan Leads Four U.S. Qualifiers For Pursuit

Photos from the men's and women's sprint races on Dec. 5, 2015, at the BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden

Dec. 05, 2015, 12:50 p.m. (ET)

OESTERSUND, Sweden (December 5, 2015) - Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) enjoyed another personal best performance on Saturday at the BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden, leading the way for four U.S. qualifiers in Sunday's pursuit races. Two days after posting a career-best 44th-place finish in the women's individual, Egan had clean shooting and a 16th place in Saturday's women's 7.5-kilometer sprint with a time of 20:51.5. She was 0.1 seconds out of 15th place and 23 seconds from 10th, setting her up to start Sunday's pursuit one minute, five seconds behind the leader.

"Wow! I was not expecting to do that today," said and excited Egan. "I am thrilled with my race and the result that came out of it. Sixteenth is a 24-place improvement from my previous personal best and a major confidence boost for the season ahead. I'm proud of my work on skis and on the range, and looking forward to racing head-to-head tomorrow in the pursuit."

Also qualifying for Sunday's women's pursuit was Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), who hit nine of 10 targets to finish with her fourth-best World Cup finish in 25th place and a time of 21:09.8. Cook will start one minute, 24 seconds back of the leader in tomorrow's pursuit.

"I am really happy with how today went," Cook commented. "It felt great to shoot as I know I am capable. After having such a bad individual with nine misses, I really tried to just let it go and laugh about it. You have to always be able to find the positive in a biathlon race and then move on. I wanted to be able to refocus on today and not let the individual get into my head and I am satisfied that I did that. We got lucky with our conditions because the men had incredible wind and then as we zeroed, we had a small blizzard. But once the race got going, the snow stopped and so did the wind. I have had a couple of rough years and it felt really good to get the season going with the kind of performance that I expect from myself and also know there is room for improvement. It was also great news to hear how stellar Clare's performance was and it makes me really excited for next week's relay."

Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic shot clean to claim the women's sprint title in 19:46.2. Second went to Federika Sanfilippo of Italy, also shooting clean with the first podium of her career, 15 seconds back. Repeating her third place from Thursday's 15k individual was Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine, with one penalty, 38.4 seconds back.

Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), an early starter in the 101-women field, got off to a strong beginning with a clean prone, but faltered in standing missing four targets and knocking her back to a 64th-place finish in 22:11.7. Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) was 91st (23:43.2/+5). Full women's results are available here.

Whereas the women's field enjoyed relatively calm conditions, with more than 30 athletes cleaning prone, the men's 10k sprint, held a few hours prior to the women's race, encountered a stiff crosswind at the range resulting in only one athlete in the 105-competitor field cleaning all 10 targets. Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) led Team USA with a 25th-place finish, hitting seven of 10 on the range and crossing the line with a time of 26:15.4. After two events he is tied for 13th in the World Cup rankings. 

"The sprint today was an interesting race," said Doherty. "The wind conditions were very difficult. I felt strong on the course and I am very excited to start the pursuit in the middle of the action. Should be a lot of fun."

Joining Doherty in Sunday's men's pursuit will be Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) who raced to a 45th-place finish today with four penalties and a time of 26:47.8. Just missing the top-60 cut for the pursuit were Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.). Nordgren was 64th (27:41.8/+4) while Bailey finished 68th (27:48.7/+6). 

Martin Fourcade of France reached the top step of the men's sprint podium with a time of 24:02 with two penalties, putting him 51.6 seconds ahead of Germany's Arnd Peiffer with a single penalty. Third place went to Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, also with two penalties, 55.2 seconds back. Full men's results are available here.

The BMW IBU World Cup 1 concludes Sunday with the pursuit events. The men's 12.5k event starts at 3:00 a.m. EST, and the women's 10k pursuit follows at 5:30 a.m. Live streaming coverage of the race can be seen here.

Men's 10km sprint results

1. Martin Fourcade (FRA) 24:02.0/+2
2. Arnd Peiffer (GER) 24:53.6/+1
3. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) 24:57.2/+2
Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)
45.  Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 26:47.8/+4
64. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) 27:41.8/+4
68. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) 27:48.7/+6

Women's 7.5km sprint results

1. Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) 19:46.2/+0
2. Federica Sanfilippo (ITA) 20:01.2/+0
3. Olena Pidhrushna (UKR) 20:24.6/+1
Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)
25.  Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) 21:09.8/+1
64. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) 22:11.7/+4
91. Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) 23:43.2/+5