March 04, 2017 (PyeongChang, South Korea) – American Lowell Bailey came into Saturday’s men’s 12.5km pursuit with only one miss in the last five races. He broke his streak with two misses – one in the first prone stage, and another in the first shooting stage. Despite those misses, he held onto 9th position, 1:20.6 behind winner Martin Fourcade of France.
Lowell Bailey © Nordic Focus
With this win, Fourcade notched his 12th gold of the season, tieing Ole Einar Bjorndalen’s 2005 single-season win record. Fourcade shot clean, and bested silver-medalist Anton Shipulin of Russia by 34.5 seconds. After the race, Fourcade gave a nod to the legendary Bjorndalen, “I am part of this generation who grew up watching Bjørndalen on television. He is just so inspiring. I came to the stadium very tired, I want to thank him for being as inspiring as he was as I was growing up.”
Men's podium © Nordic Focus
Shipulin also shot 20-for-20, and with very fast skiing moved up from his 23rd start position. The bronze medal went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard, who started in the first position and skied well, but had three misses on the day, finishing only 2.2 seconds behind Shipulin.
Anton Shipulin © Nordic Focus
After the race, Bailey commented, “Today was a tough race, but I’m satisfied with the results. The 2.5-kilometer loop is a climb right out of the gate, from the course low point to the high point. I knew Fourcade was only a few seconds behind me so I just tried to stay with him when he caught me. I felt good about how I skied the first lap, but I just had a split bullet at 7 o’clock. After that, I was pushed back out of the top group. I felt good about the way the race played out. I managed to stay in the top 10 and hang in for the final sprint with Bene Doll, Landertinger and Hofer. That’s fast company and it was a crazy group sprint to the line. I can’t remember a finish quite like that.” Bailey crossed the line right in the middle of that five-man sprint, besting Hofer in a photo finish.
Christian Gow © Nordic Focus
Bailey’s teammate Leif Nordgren had a solid race as well, moving up from 37th to 28th at the finish, 2:28.9 behind Fourcade’s time. Nordgren missed only one shot on the range – his last. “I’m very happy with how today’s race played out,” said Nordgren. “It was calm in the range…good conditions for shooting so I was able to capitalize and have a good race. I’m slightly bummed to have missed my last shot again, but I had three good stages so I can be happy with that. I felt pretty good skiing today. This 2.5-kilometer loop is difficult, but I think I handled it and the conditions well. One more race to rebound for tomorrow.”
The Canadian men qualified three to the pursuit, and they were led by Christian Gow in 32nd. Gow shot 20-for-20, and impressively moved up from his 56th starting position.
Scott Gow finished 43rd (+4:05.9) with five misses on the range, and Brendan Green was close on his heels in 44th (+4:09.8), with three misses.