Newcomer Reid Top American in Oestersund World Cup

Photos from the women's 15-kilometer individual race at the BMW World Cup 1 in Oestersund, Sweden, on November 30, 2016

By Bill Kellick | Nov. 30, 2016, 4:19 p.m. (ET)

OESTERSUND, Sweden (November 30, 2016) – In only her second season of biathlon, and racing in just her fourth World Cup event, Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.) was the top American finisher in Wednesday’s women’s 15-kilometer individual race at the season-opening BMW IBU World Cup in Oestersund, Sweden. Reid, 24, placed 29th in the field of 101 racers.

Tricky wind gusts on the shooting range hampered the field throughout the race, but Reid displayed few ill effects from the conditions, hitting 14 of her first 15 targets and finishing with just three misses on the day. She was one of just 10 finishers with three or fewer missed targets and crossed the line in a time of 51 minutes, 15.8 seconds putting her 5:01.8 off the winning time of Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier.

"I was in the starting pen when most of the top seeds went through the range, and the miss count was really, really high," said Reid. "People were missing three, four, even five in prone and standing, and they were taking a really long time to do it. Since I have very little experience shooting in wind, but I do a lot of shooting slow, I decided to take my time in the range and really focus. And when I say take my time…. my prone range times were most likely pretty close to last. I did a sight correction for the wind both times, once in the first prone, where I moved over three, and then when I arrived for the second prone stage the wind was blowing the other direction, so I moved three back to center and then three left. Only when I looked up again it had died down, so I moved three back right (to center), and this ended up being so distracting to me (I’m still learning wind) that I forgot to actually load my next magazine into my rifle. So I had to come back up, unhook the sling, load the magazine, and shoot.  Pretty sure THAT helped the range time."

Even though she was shooting well, Reid did not know where she stood in the race standings. 

"I believe the whole staff was under strict instructions not to tell me what place I was in. It’s not always wise to tell a shooter something that will make them feel more pressure, especially one that’s as new as myself. So, I had absolutely no idea where I was stacking up, and I didn’t get super nervous coming into the range."  

Reid’s time was also 10 seconds ahead of three-time world championship medalist Dorothea Wierer of Italy, but after the race she was able to keep everything in perspective.

"Had I been the top American because I cleaned the whole race, and skied unbelievably fast, that would be a much different feeling than being the top American because I happened to wander into the range when the wind wasn’t quite as crazy. You are no more your best race than you are your worst race. But an individual is a very strange race to ski, and I actively chose to not go out and ski like the ground was on fire, because I watched so many misses happening with all the early starters- a minute penalty per miss is a LOT, and a lot of skiing leeway time. If you shoot one shot better than the person next to you, you beat them even skiing 59 seconds slower. Unfortunately, you have to decide that before you get to shoot the bout, but more’s the fun of the sport."

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) missed five of her first 10 targets but settled down to clean her last 10 and finish 40th with a time of 52:33.3. Aided by her clean shooting in the second half of the race, Egan had the seventh-fastest loop time on the fourth circuit of the course.

"After my second stage, when I missed four in standing, I realized that I needed to wait out the wind next time," Egan said. "I was more patient on my next two stages and I am really happy about hitting my last 10 shots. I did not lose hope after missing four on the second stage because I knew the wind was affecting everyone. I scored one World Cup point with my 40th place and I am very satisfied with that."

Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) struggled with the range conditions all day with nine total misses and finished 73rd (55:07.6).

“I had the misfortune of shooting during some big gusts for three of my four stages,” said Dunklee. “The wind was consistent and manageable for my second prone. Four minutes is a disheartening amount of time to lose in the first stage. All I could focus on then was just putting one foot in front of the other.”

After missing six of her first 10 targets, Dunklee rebounded with a clean round in her second prone stage and with the third-fastest range time for that loop. However, three more misses in her final standing stage quelled any momentum she had gained.

“The snow was sugary and deep with some ice patches beneath,” Dunklee added. "’Wallowing’ might be the right word to describe the uphill skiing. We had two women in the World Cup points today, which is a great achievement. We lost two of our top women to retirement last spring, Hannah (Dreissigacker) and Annelies (Cook), so it is very hopeful to see Joanne and Clare performing so well." 

The World Cup in Oestersund continues on Thursday with the men’s 20-kilometer individual race.

Women’s 15km results

1.

Laura Dahlmeier (GER)

46:14.0/+2

2.

Anais Bescond (FRA)

46:29.8/+1

3.

Darya Yurkevich (BLR)

47:31.3/+0

29.

Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.)

51:15.8/+3

40.

Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)

52:33.3/+5

73.

Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)

55:07.6/+9