OSTERSUND, Sweden - Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid was perfect on the shooting range and skied his way to a career-best fifth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint race of the season-opening IBU World Cup meet Friday, Dec. 2 in Sweden.
Bailey posted a time of 24 minutes, 44.9 seconds, which was just 22.4 seconds off the winner, Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden. Bailey was fourth overall in the World Cup standings after the 10k sprint and after placing ninth in Wednesday's 20k opener.
"It's not every day in biathlon that you can execute everything the way you want it to go, but today was one of those days," Bailey said following the race. "It's been a long time for me doing this sport. I look back at the last 5-6 years with the US Biathlon staff, and I feel like we have learned so much. Today is one of the times I realize how much we have learned and how far we have come. We are all really excited.
Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid catches his breath after placing fifth in the 10-kilometer race of the IBU World Cup event in Ostersund, Sweden.
"I'm really excited for Sunday's pursuit. I've never started that high, and I'm really excited to mix it up in that that field."
After a strong overall weekend, Bailey is now ranked seventh in the overall World Cup standings. As a team, the Americans are also seventh, which is their highest ever ranking.
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke took 12th place Friday with a time of 25:19 (0+1).
"It was a really good day, I'm happy with my performance and results," Burke said. "It's my best race in a while. I've had a really solid year of training, and was disappointed not to show that in the first race this week, but I felt I bounced back and showed it today.
"I'm really excited for the pursuit. It will be an exciting race with so many so close together. It's one of my favorite formats."
With three men (Bailey, Burke and Jay Hakkinen) in the in the Top 31 of the World Cup ranking, Team USA's men currently rank seventh in the Men's Nation Cup, the highest rank ever for the squad, ahead of Russia and only 10 points behind Sweden.
"I think today was a great team performance overall, and we owe thanks to the staff for their hard work through challenging conditions here in Ostersund earlier this week," said US Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler.
"With our seventh-place ranking in the Men's Nation Cup, it shows that the team has strong potential."
OSTERSUND, Sweden - The U.S. biathlon team capped the opening IBU World Cup Sunday with three top-25 finishes in the men's pursuit to propel the team to a historic seventh-place IBU World Cup ranking.
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke finished ninth after starting the race in 12th position. He posted a time of 34:17.2 (0+0+2+1), which was 1:21.20 back from the winner Martin Fourcade of France who shot cleanly and clocked a 32.56.0.
"I was very happy with my performance today," Burke said. "It felt great to be back battling for a top spot in the World Cup. This was definitely the strongest world cup week of racing for the guys' team. I think this a great sign of things to come during the rest of the season."
Burke now ranks 15th in IBU overall World Cup standings.
Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid continued his strong weekend Sunday, starting in fifth position and placing 13th in the pursuit with a time of 34.46.5 (0+0+1+3). Bailey now ranks seventh in overall World Cup standings.
"I felt like I executed my game plan up until the final shooting stage, " Bailey said. "When I came in, there was a little bit of wind, and my shooting position wasn't as solid as I would have liked it to be. Sometimes you get unlucky in biathlon, and for sure I wish I could have the last three shots back. But that's the nature of the sport."
"I'm happy with the way this World Cup went and looking forward to the coming races over the next two weeks," Bailey added. "I think we showed the world what we are capable of this week with three of us in the top 25 today and Tim in ninth place. We are all looking forward to next weekend in Austria."
Four-time Olympian, Jay Hakkinen of Alaska finished 24th, moving up from a start in 39th position. With a time of 35:22.0 (0+0+1+1), Hakkinen's performance secured him a rank of 25th place overall.
Bernd Eisenbichler, US Biathlon's high performance director was pleased with Team USA's performance at the World Cup opener.
"All three of the men did a great job in the first two shooting stages today," he said. "To have two guys in the top 25, and three of our men ranking seventh, 15th, and 25th is a historic achievement for US Biathlon. The women were equally impressive today as Susan had a good finish at 32nd, and Sarah did a good job shooting in tough conditions."