HOCHFILZEN, Austria (February 11, 2017) – Three-time Olympian Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) turned in the best-ever finish for an American in a 10-kilometer sprint at a world championships with a fourth-place showing Saturday at the IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen. With clean shooting and great skiing, Bailey was just over six seconds from the bronze medal. His performance was the third-best overall by an American at an IBU World Championships, behind only the silver-medal wins in the men's 20km individual by Josh Thompson in 1987 and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) in 2013.
"I won't say it was a surprise, but it was definitely what I had hoped for," Bailey said. "I was planning on retiring last year and through a twist of fate I ended up being able to continue, and I'm really glad I was able to."
Bailey had the second-quickest range time among the field of 102 athletes as he calmly and efficiently felled all 10 targets.
"My strategy was to just stay aggressive and decisive with the shots. This is a tricky range but I felt confident with how I was reading the wind. I had a good zero and I felt like I knew what the wind was doing to the shots so my goal was to stay with my own strategy and not divert and do something different."
His strong finish in the sprint sets Bailey up to be in the thick of things during Sunday's 12.5km pursuit as he will start among the other medal contenders.
"The pursuit is one of my favorite races. There's a lot of tactics and, of course, the shooting is really important. I've trained really my whole career for this so I'm really happy to be there."
Clean-shooting Benedikt Doll of Germany claimed his first victory and first individual IBU World Championships gold medal, winning the men's 10km sprint in 23:27.4. Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe matched Doll on the shooting range and battled over the final meters but ended up with the silver medal, a mere 0.7 seconds back. France's Martin Fourcade won the bronze medal despite two penalties, 23.1 seconds back. Bailey was 29.5 seconds behind Doll.
Joining Bailey in the pursuit will be all three of his U.S. teammates as the American squad placed everyone in the top 40 of the sprint.
Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) had just one miss on the range in standing to finish in 26th place, 1:24.3 back.
"Happy with this result from today," said Nordgren. "I haven't done much racing yet this season, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I'm satisfied with the result. The mistake in standing was a big one, that's the only part of the race I'm disappointed with. The shooting will be even more important tomorrow, so I hope to keep my head on the range and attack on the tracks. We had excellent skis today. As one of the early starters it was slightly more wet at the beginning of the race, as more shade moved on to the course it started to freeze more and more, but overall I'm not sure it was really a huge difference."
Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) had a career-best finish of 39th in his third appearance at an IBU World Championships. After two misses in prone, Doherty settled down to clean standing and finish with a time 1:37.7 back of Doll. Doherty was 43rd in last year's world championship sprint.
"Today's race was a tough one," he said. "It is frustrating to throw it away on the range when the skiing is going well, but I am looking forward to hunting people down tomorrow."
Finishing right behind Doherty in 40th place was Burke, with two penalties in standing, 1:38.6 back.
"This was my worst sprint at world championships since 2005," Burke said. "I felt very empty today. Hopefully, I will feel better with each race."
The men's 12.5km pursuit begins at 9:00 a.m. EST on Sunday. It will be preceded by the women's 10km pursuit at 4:30 a.m. EST featuring the American trio of Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) and Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.). The races will be streamed live on Eurovision.
Men's 10km sprint results (For full results CLICK HERE)
|1.||Benedikt Doll (GER)||23:27.4/+0|
|2.||Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR)||+0.7/+0|
|3.||Martin Fourcade (FRA)||+23.1/+2|
|| Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
|26.||Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.)||+1:24.3/+1|
|39.||Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)||+1:37.7/+2|
|40.||Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)||+1:38.6/+2|