U.S. concludes world championships with three top-20 finishes in mass start

Photos from the mass start events at the IBU World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland, on March 15, 2015

March 15, 2015, 12:13 p.m. (ET)

KONTIOLAHTI, Finland (March 15, 2015) - The U.S. team wrapped up competition at the IBU World Championships on Sunday in Kontiolahti, Finland, with three top-20 performances in the men's and women's mass start events. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) finished 13th and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) was 14th in the men's 15-kilometer race, while Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) was 20th in the women's 12.5k event.

"The mass start races today were a medal opportunity for our team," said U.S. Biathlon Association President & CEO Max Cobb. "All three athletes were skiing well and the ski techs did a superb job with the skis once again. In the end we had 13th, 14th and 20th, tantalizingly close to the medals if some split bullets had been a little more on target, but that's our sport. We have to take motivation from knowing that we have the skiing ability to succeed and focus on getting all the shots close enough to push the targets over. If we can do that, we can consistently battle for the podium."

Starting toward the back of the 30-athlete men's field, Bailey and Burke both had misses at the first prone shooting stage which kept them from moving up in the pack early. Bailey, however, went clean the rest of the race, hitting his final 15 targets and departed the final shooting stage in 11th place, just 25.1 seconds out of the lead. He was passed in the final kilometer by Martin Fourcade (FRA) and Evgeniy Garanichev (RUS), but hung on for 13th place in a time of 36:59.9, just 35 seconds back of the winning time turned in by Slovenia's Jakov Fak (36:24.9/+1), who won the second world championship title of his career.

"I'm happy with today's race," Bailey said. "I had one penalty in the initial prone stage but I was able to come back and clean the next three to work my way back into the race. I haven't been at my best form on skis this week so I knew I had to shoot well in order to have a chance. Overall, I'm satisfied with the world championships. Even though they weren't my best results, I was able to keep my shooting together throughout. Now, it's on to the finals in Khanty...just a few days off and then three more races."

Despite three misses on the range, Burke turned in the fifth-fastest course time and won a photo finish sprint for 14th place, edging out Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen with an identical time of 37:10.5, 45.6 seconds off the pace.

"I was happy to end world champs today on a solid note," said Burke. "I felt really good on the ski course today and just tried to match that with safe shooting. I have definitely never been in a mass start race where 20 guys come to the last shooting stage together. It seemed like the athletes at the front of the race were hesitant to push the pace, and that benefitted guys like me who had a few penalties. I am happy to head into the last week of the season with good ski form and I am looking forward to the World Cup final in Russia, which has always been one of my favorite courses."

Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic, with one penalty, won his third medal of the week, claiming silver just a second behind Fak. The bronze medal went to Tarjei Boe of Norway, 3.7 seconds back, also with one penalty. Full men's mass start results are available here.

"Today's men's mass start was perhaps the closest mass start world championships in the history of biathlon," added Cobb. "Eighteen athletes finished within a minute of the winner. At the Olympics last year, only five athletes finished within a minute of the winner."

In the women's mass start, Dunklee struggled at the range with five misses, but made up for it with blazing fast skis. She posted the fifth-fastest course time, just 1.5 seconds from the third-fastest time, and crossed the line in 20th place with a time of 36:33.9.

"I wish every course had a 'wall' like Kontiolahti," said Dunklee of the infamous climb on the world championship course. "I love charging up it on the last loop. Another great day on skis but I couldn't fully capitalize on it because of a mediocre performance in the shooting range. Now, I'm happy to be done with these world championships, but looking forward to one last week of World Cup racing."

Ukraine's Valj Semerenko won her first individual world championship title with clean shooting and a time of 34:32.9. The silver medal went to Germany's Franziska Preuss, with one penalty, 6.2 seconds back. Karin Oberhofer of Italy took the bronze for the first individual medal of her career, with two penalties, 12.6 seconds behind. Full women's mass start results are available here.

Catch highlights of today's races on the Universal Sports Network tonight from 6-8 p.m. EDT. See broadcast schedule below.

At the end of the event, Cobb was pleased with the team's performances and the potential that is evident in the athletes.

"The world championships in Kontiolahti, Finland, showed we have all the building blocks for medal-winning performances on this team," said Cobb. "Both Susan Dunklee and Tim Burke showed consistently fast and world-class ski times -- fast enough to win with good shooting. Lowell Bailey showed he has what it takes to shoot fast and well in the relay and the mass start, as well as the strength to lead the pack in the relay. Rookie Clare Egan came to the world championships and had her best-ever finish with a 40th place, scoring her first World Cup point in her first season on the circuit. She went on to clear her prone targets in five shots in the relay and hit all her standing shots with the extra rounds. World junior medalist Sean Doherty qualified for the pursuit and held his own in the relay. Annelies Cook cleaned three stages in the 15km individual but was not able to keep that same performance going until the end. Leif Nordgren went 10-for-10 in the mixed relay and had very solid races scoring World Cup points. Hannah Dreissigacker reached a new personal best this season with a 16th place World Cup finish."

The U.S. team now heads to Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, to compete in the World Cup final, March 19-22.

Men's 15k mass start

1. Jakov Fak (SLO) 36:24.9/+1
2. Ondrej Moravec (CZE) 36:25.9/+1
3. Tarjei Boe (NOR) 36:28.6/+1
13. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) 36:59.9/+1
14. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 37:10.5/+3

Women's 12.5k mass start

1. Valj Semerenko (UKR) 34:32.9/+0
2. Franziska Preuss (GER) 34:39.1/+1
3. Karin Oberhofer (ITA) 34:45.5/+2
20. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) 36:33.9/+5

Broadcast schedule

Date

Eurovision (Live Stream)

Universal Sports

Mar. 5

Mixed relay: 11:15 a.m.

 

Mar. 7

Men’s sprint: 7:00 a.m.

Women’s sprint: 10:30 a.m.

 

Mar. 8

Men’s pursuit: 8:15 a.m.

Women’s pursuit: 11:00 a.m.

 

Mar. 9

 

Mixed relay (from Mar. 5): 8-9 p.m.

Mar. 10

 

Men’s sprint & pursuit (from Mar. 7-8): 8-9 p.m.

Mar. 11

Women’s individual: 12:15 p.m.

Women’s sprint & pursuit (from Mar. 7-8): 8-9 p.m.

Mar. 12

Men’s individual: 12:15 p.m.

 

Mar. 13

Women’s relay: 12:15 p.m.

 

Mar. 14

Men’s relay: 11:30 a.m.

Men’s relay (same-day): 7-8 p.m.

Mar. 15

Women’s mass start: 8:30 a.m.

Men’s mass start: 11:00 a.m.

Women’s mass start (same-day): 6-7 p.m.

Men’s mass start (same-day): 7-8 p.m.

 

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