Strong 6th For Men's Relay Team In Ruhpolding

Photos from the men's 4x7.5km relay on Jan. 15, 2016, at the BMW IBU World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding, Germany.

Jan. 15, 2016, 12:11 p.m. (ET)

RUHPOLDING, Germany (January 15, 2016) - The U.S. men's relay squad used a strong start and a strong finish to capture sixth place in Friday's 4x7.5-kilometer race at the BMW IBU World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding, Germany. The team of Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) battled snowy conditions to finish in 1:19:36.1, using eight spare rounds at the shooting range. Their time was two minutes and 31 seconds behind the Norwegian team of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen that won today's relay in 1:17:05.0. Norway used 12 spare rounds while second place Russia (Alexey Volkov, Evgeniy Garanichev, Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Shipulin), with just six spares was 14.6 seconds back. Third went to Austria (Sven Grossegger, Julian Eberhard, Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger) with one penalty and seven spares, 35.8 seconds behind.

Winter set in for the start of the race with light to moderate snowfall all day and temperatures just above freezing, slowing the tracks for all 25 teams. At the same time, the wind picked up just after the start, making shooting more complicated than usual in Ruhpolding.

Bailey opened the race for Team USA and his clean shooting put him in second place, just 5.8 seconds behind leader Erik Lesser of Germany, as the competitors left the range after the standing portion. He also turned in the second-fastest time on the third lap of the opening leg and tagged off to Nordgren with the U.S. team in third place, only 4.1 seconds behind the leading squad from Latvia.

"Another wild, snowy day in Ruhpolding," exclaimed Bailey. "The pace was pretty quick right out of the gate so I tried to stay focused on staying in control and hitting my targets and trying to manage my energy to have something left for the last lap. I lost a little bit in the beginning of the final loop, but I was able to gain most of it back by the tag. For some reason I just seem to do better on the second half of this Ruhpolding loop."

Nordgren found the shooting conditions challenging, having to use three spares in prone and another in standing. By the time he exchanged with Burke for the third leg, the U.S. team had dropped to 10th place, one minute and 51 seconds out of the lead.

"For my part I'm a little disappointed with how I performed today," Nordgren said. "I'm much better in shooting than the four mistakes that I showed today, but shooting has been very up and down for me this season. Usually, I love being in the situation like I was today, at the front of the race, but today the targets didn't go down in prone and I lost quite a bit of time in the range."

Nordgren also found himself losing time on the course during his second leg.

"Going into the second loop I started to lose a lot of time. Unfortunately my skis were not so competitive with the other guys around me today, so that didn't help at all. It had been snowing pretty hard all afternoon and with conditions like that there can be a big difference in the skis. Today I was on the bad end. In standing I was quite calm, there was no pressure so I was able to get out of the range with only one spare, but again on that third loop I lost a lot of time on the skis."

Burke moved the team back up to seventh place with clean shooting in prone. After needing three spares in standing, Burke tagged off to Doherty for the anchor leg with the U.S. in ninth place, two minutes and 19 seconds off the pace.

The 20-year-old Doherty, the youngest member of the American sqaud, brought the team back with a strong finish, going clean in prone and needing only one spare in standing to move up to sixth place at the finish.

"Today's race was a solid performance for the whole team," said Doherty. "With strong shooting I was able to move up and secure sixth place. I'm very happy with the race and it's a great result and we are looking forward to the next relay."

Burke was also more than pleased with the team's effort today.

"We are all very excited with our sixth-place finish today," he said. "I believe that this was our best relay performance in the last three years. The conditions were tricky today with heavy snowfall and gusty winds. As a team, we simply managed to stay out of trouble and avoid the penalty loop. If you look at the results, many teams today had penalties and that was the difference for us. While we are all excited about this result, I feel like this is where we belong on a normal day and that we are capable of more when everything really comes together."

The team effort today was not lost on Nordgren either and he too is excited for the prospects of better results in the near future. 

"Today was a great example of how biathlon can flip-flop around so much," said Nordgren. "I was pretty sure after my leg we were going to be out of it, but Tim and Sean closed out the race with really solid legs, and with some mistakes by other teams we were right back into sixth. That is the beautiful part of the relay, though. Even though my race was forgettable and would have put us out of contention, the other guys really pulled through and we came out with a good result on the day. I think today really shows what we are capable of. Yes, sixth place is good, but it was far from a perfect race. With good races by all four guys, and good material, we are capable of so much more. There are plenty of more races this season though, so we'll look forward from here."

Complete results from the men's relay are available here.

The BMW IBU World Cup 5 continues on Saturday with the mass start races. The women's 12.5km event, featuring Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), starts at 5:45 a.m. EST, with the men's 15km race, featuring Bailey, beginning at 10:10 a.m EST. Both races can be seen via live stream at www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/.

Men's 4x7.5km relay results

1. Norway (Bjoerndalen, J. Boe, T. Boe, Svendsen) 1:17:05.0/0+12
2. Russia (Volkov, Garanichev, Tsvetkov, Shipulin) 1:17:19.6/0+6
3. Austria (Grossegger, Eberhard, Eder, Landertinger) 1:17:40.8/1+7
6.
USA (Bailey, Nordgren, Burke, Doherty)
1:19:36.1/0+8