Newcomers Help World Cup Relays in Hochfilzen

By Bill Kellick | Dec. 16, 2018, 8:56 a.m. (ET)

Travis Cooper Hochfilzen relay
Travis Cooper made his World Cup relay debut on Sunday in Hochfilzen (photo by NordicFocus)

HOCHFILZEN, Austria (Dec. 16, 2018) – Three athletes making their World Cup debuts helped U.S. relay teams to solid results on Sunday as the BMW IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen came to a close. World Cup rookies Travis Cooper (Kenai, Alaska) and Jake Brown (Saint Paul, Minn.) were part of the men's 12th-place finish, while Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, Wis.) aided the women's team to 13th place, equaling their best finish from last season.

The U.S. men's team received steady performances across the board from all four team members. Brown and Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) needed just two spare rounds on the range, while Cooper and Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) both used three. Doherty turned in the second-fastest course time on the second lap of his leg and had the team among the top three out on course. The squad would eventually finish 2 minutes, 33.6 seconds off the winning pace with their 10 spare rounds.

"As happy as I am with my individual leg, I am much more excited about how the team performed as a whole," said Doherty. "We held our own out there and fought for every second. To have Travis and Jake rise to the occasion was great to see. There are more relays to come and we have a lot to look forward to."

The Swedish team of Peppe Femling, Martin Ponsiluoma, Thorston Stenersen and Sebastian Samuelsson used five spare rounds to take the men's relay victory in 1:16:10.5. Norway finished second, with seven spares, 3.6 seconds back, while Germany came from seventh at the last exchange to place third with a penalty and six spares, 28.8 seconds behind Sweden.

The U.S. women's team of Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, Calif.), Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and Irwin had one penalty and used nine spares to cross the line 3:39.1 off the pace. Veterans Dunklee and Egan used just one spare apiece on the range as they set the pace for the rest of the team.

"We came into this race ranked 21st and finished 13th, tying our best finish from last year," Egan said. "Our team goal is to finish in the top-10 and our performance today confirms that we are on the right track. Deedra was impressive in her first-ever World Cup race."

The Italian foursome of Lisa Vittozzi, Alexia Runggaldier, Dorothea Wierer and Federica Sanfilippo won the women's relay with just three spare rounds in 1:10:58.7. Sweden's Hanna Oeberg sprinted past France's Anais Bescond in the last 100 meters for second place, with eight spares, 8.4 seconds back. France, in third place, had nine spare rounds, 11.8 seconds behind Italy.

The final World Cup of the calendar year will be held in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic beginning Thursday and running through Sunday.

WAYS TO WATCH:
Fans can watch a same-day replay of World Cup races on the Olympic Channel (check your local listings).

Replay with commentary is also available thru www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu.

Men’s 4x7.5km relay results

1.

Sweden (Femling, Ponsiluoma, Stenersen,Samuelsson)

1:16:10.6/0+5

2.

Norway (Birkeland, L'Abee-Lunc, T. Boe, Christiansen)

+3.6/0+7

3.

Germany (Schempp, Kuehn, Peiffer, Doll)

+28.8/1+6

12.

USA (Nordgren, Doherty, Cooper, Brown)

+2:33.6/0+10


Women’s 4x6km relay results

1.

Italy (Vittozzi, Runggaldier, Wierer, Sanfilippo)

1:10:58.7/0+3

2.

Sweden (Persson, Brorsson, Nilsson, Oeberg)

+8.4/0+8

3.

France (Chevalier, Simon, Aymonier, Bescond)

+11.8/0+9

13.

USA (Reid, Dunklee, Egan, Irwin)

+3:39.1/1+9