Burke and Bailey Qualify for Mass Start at Canmore World Cup

Photos from the men's 10km sprint on Feb. 4, 2016, at the BMW IBU World Cup 7 in Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Feb. 04, 2016, 2:46 p.m. (ET)

CANMORE, Alberta, Canada (February 4, 2016) - Three U.S. athletes finished within two seconds of each other, but were just outside the top-20 as the BMW IBU World Cup 7 got underway Thursday with the men's 10-kilometer sprint in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) was 23rd with two penalties and a time of 25 minutes, 36.3 seconds. Less than a second behind Burke in 24th place was Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), who skied an almost mirror-image race to that of Burke's, as he also had two penalties and a time of 25:36.7. Within two seconds of both Burke and Bailey was Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) in 26th place, with a time of 25:38.2 and one penalty. Burke and Bailey both qualified for Saturday's 30-man mass start.

After a couple of very sunny training days in Canmore, Thursday dawned with cloudy skies and below-zero temperatures, with light wind crossing the shooting range from left to right. Martin Fourcade of France led the way in the men's sprint with a clean-shooting 23:51.5 victory over Anton Shipulin of Russia and Simon Schempp of Germany. Both also shot clean but finished 15.7 and 18.7 seconds back of Fourcade, respectively.

Burke went clean in prone but had two misses in standing to knock him out of contention.

"I am pretty disappointed with my feeling on the ski course today," said Burke. "I had perfect preparation for the races here and the course is perfect for me, but I simply felt flat for most of the race. I am happy to be qualified for the mass start on Saturday and I am hopeful that I will bounce back and feel better by then."  

Likewise, Bailey also had two misses in standing after starting out clean in prone.

"I was definitely hoping for a better performance today," Bailey said. "I felt like we prepared really well for this World Cup, coming directly here a week earlier than the rest of the athletes, and I hoped to capitalize on this preparation. I think it paid off on the skiing side of things, but I was just really disappointed in my standing shooting. I missed both of the first two shots by a few millimeters. It's tough to swallow coming that close, but you just have to get back out there and try again. I am confident in our preparation looking forward and I know we can put together some quality performances over the next two weeks."

Nordgren suffered one miss in prone but cleaned standing to finish nine of 10 at the range. Afterward, he felt only some of the disappointment that Burke and Bailey expressed.

"The race today for me was one of the better ones I've had this season," Nordgren said. "That being said, I know that I have more in me, so I'm slightly disappointed still. It seems to me that both my shooting and skiing have been coming around a little bit lately, so I hope the next few races here in North America can be good ones. "I have raced here in the past and had difficulty keeping up a good pace all through the race. Today I started fairly aggressive, but saving enough to have a competitive last loop and I think I did OK for that part. The shooting today was pretty simple for me. The wind was coming and going, but both of my shooting stages it was just a gentle breeze. The miss in prone was just a lapse in concentration, but I was able to come to standing very relaxed and hit all five. The tracks are in great condition, it's quite cold during the night here so the snow stays firm all day. It's been a great laid-back atmosphere all week. Canmore is a pretty special town so it's nice to be back here racing again."

Rounding out the U.S. effort in the men's sprint was Max Durtschi (Sun Valley, Idaho) competing in his first World Cup race. He placed 85th with five penalties and a time of 28:58.0. Full men's sprint results are available here.

The BMW IBU World Cup 7 continues on Friday with the women's 7.5km sprint at 1:15 p.m. EST, streamed live at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu. Competing for Team USA will be Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.) and Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.).

Men's 10km sprint results

1. Martin Fourcade (FRA) 23:51.5/+0
2. Anton Shipulin (RUS) 24:07.2/+0
3. Simon Schempp (GER) 24:10.2/+0
23. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 25:36.3/+2
24. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
25:36.7/+2
26. Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) 25:38.2/+1
85. Max Durtschi (Sun Valley, Idaho) 28:58.0/+5