Three Americans qualify for World Cup mass start races on Sunday

Photos from the men's and women's pursuit races at the IBU World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, on March 21, 2015.

March 21, 2015, 10:25 a.m. (ET)

KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (March 21, 2015) - Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) qualified for Sunday's mass start event and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) posted the fastest shooting time of the day in the men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit at the IBU World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Nordgren finished 17th with three penalties and a time of 34:01.6. Bailey followed in 22nd (34:18.7/+1) while Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) came in 53rd (37:11.6/+6).

Starting in 21st position, 1:14 behind the leader, Nordgren missed three targets in the prone positions before settling down and cleaning all 10 targets in standing.

"I am happy with where I ended up today, 17th isn't bad, but I had an opportunity for a little more so that's somewhat of a bummer," said Nordgren. "I couldn't quite get the targets down in prone today. Three misses in prone is a little unusual. It wasn't exactly super windy during our race so to me, three is too many. I came around in standing, though -- really happy to salvage the race with 10 hits in standing."

Nordgen also felt the toll of the long season in the latter part of the race.

"On the tracks I felt pretty strong for the first three loops or so, but I definitely fell off quite a bit in the last two loops. Leaving the range in 10th after the final shooting was a really good place to be. I think with normal skiing I would have been able to hold that place. Today I got caught by a huge pack of guys on the last hill and there was nothing I could do about it. My legs are toast now."

Nordgren's performance secured a place in the 30-man 15k mass start on Sunday and he is looking forward to the challenge.

"I'm really happy to get one last chance tomorrow," Nordgren said. "It's been a few years since I was in a mass start and I'm a much more mature athlete than I was back then. Hopefully, I can put together another good result. It's the last race of the season so there isn't much to lose."

Bailey was one of only seven athletes in the 56-man field to miss less than two targets during the race and posted the fastest total shooting time (1:31), four seconds over the next closest competitor, but he just missed out on qualifying for Sunday's mass start.

"I knew I had nothing to lose today so I just tried to go out there and shoot on the edge of my comfort zone," said Bailey. "Of course, this is a little risky, but it paid off today. I'm disappointed I won't be in the mass start, but that's the way the men's field is right now. There are 60 guys that are within podium contention and only 30 can race. But it does make for some extremely exciting races."

Canada's Nathan Smith won the men's pursuit in 32:04.9, with a single penalty giving him his first-ever World Cup victory. Benedikt Doll of Germany had his second career podium in second place, with two penalties, 24 seconds back. Russia's Anton Shipulin took third place with four penalties, 35.7 seconds behind. Full men's pursuit results are available here.

The women's 10k pursuit proved to be a tale of two halves at the shooting range for the two American athletes. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) started strong but faltered late, while Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) struggled early but finished strong. Dunklee's day was saved by her continued strong skiing of late as she put up the second-fastest course time behind winner Darya Domracheva of Belarus, en route to a 23rd-place finish (31:33.2/+5). Dreissigacker missed four targets in prone but only one in standing to place 38th (33:09.0/+5). The results were good enough to qualify both Americans for Sunday's 12.5k mass start.

"I had a plan to treat this race like a biathlon race, not just a ski race," said Dunklee. "That meant finding 100 percent mental focus for the range and I think I executed that well. Prone came together really nicely, but some small thing was slightly off in standing causing a lot of close misses. Tomorrow is a special day. It will be the first time in a few years that we will have two American women in a mass start together."

Domracheva won the women's pursuit in 28:14.4, with one penalty. Laura Dahlmeier of Germany finished second, shooting clean, 15.7 seconds back, while her teammate Franziska Preuss was third, also shooting clean, 15.9 seconds back. Full women's pursuit results are available here.

Sunday's mass start races begins with the men's 15k race at 5:00 a.m. EDT, followed by the women's 12.5k competition at 7:05 a.m. EDT. A live stream of both races can be seen on Eurovision here.

Men's 12.5km pursuit

1. Nathan Smith (CAN) 32:04.9/+1
2. Benedikt Doll (GER) 32:28.9/+2
3. Anton Shipulin (RUS) 32:40.6/+4
17. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) 34:01.6/+3
22. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) 34:18.7/+1
53. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 37:11.6/+6

Women's 10km pursuit

1. Darya Domracheva (BLR) 38:14.4/+1
2. Laura Dahlmeier (GER) 28:30.1/+0
3. Franziska Preuss (GER) 28:30.3/+0
23. Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) 31:33.2/+5
38. Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) 33:09.0/+5