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Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway scores at Fort Kent. [P] Herb SwansonPerianne Jones (Nakkertok/NST) [P] Jesse Winter file photoRussia celebrates relay victory... [P] Judy Geer

USA’s Bailey 13th as Norway’s Boe Claims First Individual Gold in Men’s Mass Start at IBU Worlds

by Mike Sarnecki

February 17, 2013 (Nove Mesto, CZE) – The USA’s Lowell Bailey put on a powerful display of biathlon prowess shooting clean in the first three rounds and skiing with the leaders in the 15m Men’s Mass Start event for a thrilling finish to the final event of the IBU World Championships. Sunday for the  with the temperature hovering around zero, little wind, and hard pack snow as in a time of 36:15.8.

But the final standing stage was Bailey’s undoing as he missed two targets ending up 13th as Tarjei Boe of Norway, 24, was hot cleaning again for a perfect day on the range, taking advantage as well of fast skiing, to claim his first individual gold of these championships. It was Boe’s second gold in Nove Mesto as he was on Norway’s winning Men’s Relay team as well.

Blasting into second was Anton Shipulin of Russia at 3.7 seconds behind with one penalty as he attacked and overtook a tiring Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) with about 500m to go as the Norwegian settled for the bronze also suffering one penalty on the day.

Svendsen and Martin Fourcade (Fra) were the early leaders but following the first prone session a group 14-strong shot clean but the second time thru Svendsen and Fourcade suffered penalties. As Boe, Bailey, Canada’s JP Le Guellec, Andreas Birnbacher (GER), Bjorn Ferry (SWE) and fiver others forged ahead.

Fourcade pushed to catch back on as Svendsen also made up ground and following the first standing session a handful shot clean including Boe, Fourade, Bailey, Birnbacher who formed a lead group as Erik Lesser (GER) and Ferry also cleaned and were close behind including Svendsen.

All were contenders and in the final round, Boe shot clean while Fourcade missed one and Bailey missed two, dropping them out of contention for a medal. Meanwhile Svendsen, Shipulin cleaned the final round and began chasing down Boe as Lesser tried to keep pace.

Behind a feisty local star Ondrej Moravec (CZE) skied with passion and took over fourth as Boe roared in for the gold and Shipulin saved something for the end to claim silver with Svendsen winning the bronze.

It was a phenomenal day for Bailey despite the ending. “More than ever, I realize that at this level, a podium result requires perfection,” said Bailey in a team release. “That’s what I’ve strived for in training and that’s what I will continue to strive for looking forward to the final three World Cups and beyond.

“I felt great today. My skis were great, I felt good physically, and I was relaxed and confident in the range. Of course I would like to have cleaned that last stage, but other than that, I had the race I wanted to have. I’ve never been more hungry for the podium at any point in my career than right now!”

Canadian Jean Phillippe Le Guellec who also had a strong day with clean shooting and looked good for a top-10 placement also faltered on the final standing session with two penalties dropping to 22nd place with at time of 38:17.5 (0+0+1+2).

The other North American in the field today was USA’s Tim Burke but the recent silver medalist did not fair well, as he was caught in an early crash with several other skiers on a high speed downhill, went completely off of the course and was unable to recover.

“I was really motivated for this race today and I thought I definitely had a chance to fight for another podium,” said Burke. “Unfortunately, I was involved in a bad crash on the first loop where I ended up off of the course. During the crash I rolled on my rifle and it ended up totally jamming with snow.

“From that point, my race was essentially over as it took me a few minutes to get the rifle functioning once I got in the range. I was pretty disappointed to end the World Champs like this but that’s the way biathlon goes sometimes.”

Burke eventually finished 30th with five penalties (2+3+0+0). The E.ON IBU World Cup resumes with Round 7 at the Holmenkollen, in Oslo, Norway on Feb. 27th.

Full results here.

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