Hochfilzen, Austria, December 8. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) finished 48th and 49th today in the 12.5K Pursuit competition here.
Bailey, who had his best result of the season yesterday with 37th in the 10K Sprint, could not move up as he picked up one penalty in each of the critical prone stages. Coming to the first standing stage, the Lake Placid native was still within 30 seconds of the top 30. Two additional penalties took away all hope of a high finish. In the final standing stage, he came back to shoot clean, yet finished 48th, 4:39.5 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen who picked up World Cup victory number 76.
After Bailey cleaned the final standing stage, Coach Per Nilsson commented, “Four penalties in a Pursuit, is too many, especially when you have two in prone. If you fall behind there (in prone), it is almost impossible to move up in the results.”
Teela, unlike Bailey, moved up from 60th at the start to 49th at the finish, 5:30.2 back. This was despite six penalties today.
Conditions today were different from yesterday, when warmer conditions softened the tracks as the competition progressed. Overnight, a new front passed through this alpine valley, first dropping several hours of cold rain, which turned into a heavy snowfall of huge wet flakes. The snow stopped about an hour before the competition, but set the stage for the day.
Teela explained a little about his race and the conditions. “You had to be a bit like a ballet dancer out there today, able to dance over this wet snow. That is not my style as I am a big guy. Therefore, it was tough for me.” Regarding his shooting, he added, “The Pursuit is a shooter’s race; if you do not shoot well, it is hard to move up unless those around you are shooting worse. I had some trouble zeroing today to begin with. On the first prone, I missed two shots and had to make a correction. That helped and I easily cleaned the second prone. In the first standing, I missed three. At that point, I did something different, as nothing seemed to be working. I shot at random targets, whichever one came into my sights, which is totally crazy, but I only missed one! Today was a hard race for me in these conditions; I hope I have something left for the relay tomorrow.”
Regardless of how Teela feels, he will anchor the 4 X 7.5K Relay Team of Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), and Bailey.
The win for Bjorndalen today was not easy. He had a cat-and-mouse battle with second place Dmitri Iarochenko from start to finish. The Russian held the lead early as both he and Bjorndalen had a single prone penalty. They matched each other with one penalty each in the first standing stage. Bjorndalen gained a small advantage with superb skiing and entered the range for the final time with a 5-6 second lead. He then shot fast, but missed three targets, as did his Russian rival. By far a better skier, Bjorndalen won in 34:57.3, extending his lead to 28.7 seconds over the final 2.5K loop. Third place went to Daniel Graf of Germany. This was the first podium result for the young German, who shot clean, finishing 1:10.6 back.
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