Top-20 Finishes for Bailey and Burke in World Cup Opener

Photos of the men's 20k individual race

By Bill Kellick | Dec. 01, 2016, 2:18 p.m. (ET)

OESTERSUND, Sweden (December 1, 2016) – Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) got the 2016-17 World Cup season off to a strong start with a pair of top-20 finishes in Thursday's men's 20-kilometer individual race at the BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden. Bailey placed 15th and Burke was 16th in the field of 104 athletes.

Despite facing gusty, unpredictable winds at the shooting range, Bailey and Burke both cleaned all 10 targets from the prone position. However, the entire field struggled from the standing position in the tricky winds, with each missed target adding one minute to the finish time. Bailey missed two targets in both standing stages while Burke missed two in the first stage and one in the final stage.

"It was pretty gusty in the range and you really had to concentrate on making quality shots," Bailey said. "I'm happy with the prone performance but definitely wish I could have a few of those standing shots back."

"The conditions on the course were quite good today but it was pretty challenging on the range with the wind," added Burke. "I decided to just take my time on the range and that worked out today."

Bailey made up for the misses with both the 11th-fastest shooting time and 11th-fastest range time to go along with the 25th-best total course time helping him climb back into the top 20. His time was 3 minutes, 52.5 seconds off the winning time, while Burke was close behind at 3:54.6 back. It was Bailey's best finish in the Oestersund 20k in five years, a course that has historically been kind to Burke.

"Your ski speed is always a little bit of an unknown going into the first race of the season," said Bailey. "I'm happy to start off with decent ski speed and I hope I can build on this race going forward from here. I've worked throughout the training session on increasing the speed in the shooting setup (before any shots are fired) so I'm happy to see the overall range time where it is. Once the wind dies down, I'm sure you will see some lightning-fast shooting from the field though. All in all, I'm happy with the result and looking forward to the sprint races on Saturday."

"I'm not really sure why Oestersund has been a good venue for me," Burke said. "Maybe it's because of the tricky shooting conditions, which is something that I typically like. Unfortunately, I felt really flat on the course today. I should have been able to reach the top 10 today with that shooting but I just did not have it on the tracks today. Hopefully my legs will rebound for Saturday's sprint."

France's Martin Fourcade dominated the men's 20k, winning in 51:33.8, despite two penalties. Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe matched Fourcade at the shooting range, but finished second, 29.5 seconds back. Third place went to Belarus' Vladimir Chepelin, with his first-ever World Cup podium, 1:24.3 back with one penalty.

Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine) finished 54th, with six penalties, 7:04.5 behind Fourcade's time.

The BMW IBU World Cup 1 continues on Saturday with the sprint events. The women's 7.5k event starts at 5:45 a.m. EST, with the men's 10k sprint to follow at 8:45 a.m. Live streaming coverage of the race can be seen at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu.

Men’s 20km results

1.

Martin Fourcade (FRA)

51:33.8/+2

2.

Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR)

+29.5/+2

3.

Vladimir Chepelin (BLR)

+1:24.3/+1

15.

Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)

+3:52.5/+4

16.

Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)

+3:54.6/+3

54.

Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine)

+7:04.5/+6

DNS

Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.)