Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid raced to a 12th-place finish and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths was 16th Thursday in the 10-kilometer sprint race of the World Cup biathlon event in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Bailey completed the course in 25 minutes, 49.8 seconds with just one shooting penalty. Burke wasn't far behind in 26:01 with one penalty. Bailey and Burke both qualified for Saturday's 12.5k pursuit.
"I was happy with the result, and psyched to have a good shot at the top of the field on Saturday," Bailey said. "The conditions were gusty winds from the start, and I had a little bit of luck on my side in that the winds stayed about the same as zero for my prone and standing.
"I felt pretty good on the first two laps, but I just couldn't quite hold the speed on the last lap. I'm looking forward to the pursuit on Saturday."
Bjoern Ferry of Sweden won the race in 23:03 with one miss. Anton Shipulin of Russia was second in 25:05 and Arnd Peiffer of Germany was third in 25:06.02.
"This was a solid start for me, and now I am looking forward to the pursuit on Saturday," Burke said. "The shooting conditions have been really hard here in Slovenia, so I think anything is still possible for the pursuit. I am hopeful that I can still get back in top form before the end of the season."
Leif Nordgren of Marine, Minn., placed 42nd and will join Burke and Bailey in Saturday's pursuit.
Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake was the 79th finisher in Thursday's women's biathlon World Cup sprint race in Pokljuka, Slovenia. She finished in 25:32 with five penalties.
Katharina Innerhoffer of Austria won the race in 21:19.1 with clean shooting. Daria Virolaynen of Russia took second in 21:28.3 with no penalties and Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus was third in 21:31.2 with no misses.
Sara Studebaker was the top American woman with her 35th-place finish in 23:16.4 with one miss. Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. was 38th with a time of 23:22.7 and four penalties.
"Today was definitely a tough day on the range," Studebaker said. "Some people got lucky with the wind, and some people had super windy conditions while they were shooting. I definitely was lucky, but I've also been really working on my shooting since Sochi did not go as I had hoped on the range."
Studebaker and Dunklee will compete in Saturday's 10k pursuit race.
Billy Demong turned in the fourth-fastest cross country skiing time of the day Thursday to move into a 10th-place finish in the individual 10-kilometer nordic combined World Cup event in Trondheim, Norway.
The Vermontville native was in 20th place after the jump and made up nearly a minute on the hard-packed cross country course.
Johannes Rydzek of Germany won the event, followed by Joergen Graabak and Magnus Moan.
Taylor Fletcher of Steamboat Springs, Colo., recorded the fastest skiing time of the day improving on his 47th-place jump to finish 23rd.
The athletes will head to another individual 10k Gundersen World Cup on Saturday in Oslo, Norway.