HOCHFILZEN, Austria (February 18, 2017) – The U.S. men's relay team put on a solid showing with a seventh-place finish Saturday in the 4x7.5-kilometer race at the IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen. The foursome of Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) finished 1 minute, 50.5 seconds behind the gold-medal winning team from Russia.
Bailey, fresh off his historic world championship victory in Thursday's 20km individual race, kicked off the relay for the American squad with a strong effort. He needed just one spare in prone and cleaned from the standing position to momentarily put U.S. in fourth place, just 2.7 seconds off the pace as he left the range. He maintained the fourth-place position when he tagged off to Nordgren, but had lost 10 seconds to the leaders.
"It felt good to get back to why I do this sport: to race," Bailey said. "It's been a whirlwind of activity off the biathlon track over the last couple of days, but Biathlon World Championships is still going forward, and I still have one more race tomorrow."
Nordgren continued the impressive showing for the American contingent as he cleaned from prone to put the team neck-and-neck with Germany for the lead as he exited the range. Despite needing one spare in the standing stage, Nordgren maintained contact with the leaders as he made the exchange to Burke in sixth place, still just 17.7 seconds from the front.
"I was pretty happy with my leg today," said Nordgren. "It was a fun race for sure. I was right in the mix from the start today and I was able to hold my own even on the last lap. I had absolutely amazing skis which helped a lot because the conditions were less than ideal. The snow that came overnight was really wet and a lot of the track was a mess today, but I just let my skis do the work and that made a big difference."
Burke held his position through the prone shoot, where he needed just one spare, and kept the team in medal contention just 38 seconds off the pace, but three spare rounds in the standing shoot dashed the hopes for a podium finish.
Burke made the final exchange with Doherty in seventh place, 1:01 behind now, and Doherty found himself in no man's land -- 30 seconds behind Ukraine and 20 seconds ahead of Norway. Skiing alone all the way to the prone stage, Doherty used two spares but then cleaned the standing stage putting him just three seconds behind Ukraine's Dmytro Pidruchnyi leaving the range. However, he couldn't overtake the Pidruchnyi in the final kilometers.
Anton Shipulin's brillliant anchor leg, with strong skiing and equally good shooting, brought Russia and teammates Alexey Volkov, Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Babikov the gold medal in the men's relay. Russia used just three spares in their winning time of 1:14:15. France, with Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Simon Desthieux and Martin Fourcade, won the silver medal with four spares, 20.8 seconds back. The Austrian team of Daniel Mesotitsch, Julian Eberhard, Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger repeated their historic performance at the 2005 World Championships in Hochfilzen, winning the bronze medal despite ten spare rounds. Full men's relay results available HERE.
"We had a great team performance and I'm proud of what we did," added Bailey. "Seventh place, and in the mix at the top of the field for most of the race."
The IBU World Championships conclude on Sunday with the mass start races. The women's 12.5km mass start, featuring Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) begins at 5:30 a.m. EST, followed by the men's 15km mass start with Bailey at 8:45 a.m. EST. Both races will be streamed live on Eurovision.
Men's 4x7.5km relay results
|1.||Russia (Volkov, Tsvetkov, Babikov, Shipulin)||1:14:15.0/0+3|
|2.||France (Beatrix, Fillon Maillet, Desthieux, Fourcade)||+5.8/0+4|
|3.||Austria (Mesotitsch, Eberhard, Eder, Landertinger)||+20.1/0+10|
||USA (Bailey, Nordgren, Burke, Doherty)