Maine’s Russell Currier had hoped for a Top 40 finish in Thursday’s 20-kilometer individual biathlon race at the Winter Olympics.
He ended up 50th among the 89 competitors at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center in Sochi’s Mountain Cluster.
Currier, the 26-year-old from Stockholm and Maine’s only competitor in the Sochi Olympics, finished in 55 minutes, 7.5 seconds. He had four misses (out of 20 shots), each adding one minute to his time. Currier missed two shots in each of his first two shooting stations. He was a perfect 10-for-10 in the final two.
“For me, it was OK,” said Currier, in a phone interview. “A lot of things went right. Unfortunately, some things didn’t.
“And at this point, our sport is so competitive that you need a perfect day to have a good result.”
France’s Martin Fourcade won his second event of these games, finishing in 49:31.7. He had just one miss. It was his second gold medal of these Olympics, as he also won the pursuit.
The silver medal went to Germany’s Erik Lesser in 49:43.9 (with no misses) and Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev took third in 50:06.2 (with one miss).
Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid, N.Y., like Currier an alum of the Maine Winter Sports Center, was the top American finisher. He was eighth, with a time of 50:57.4, and only one miss. It was the best individual finish ever for a U.S. men’s biathlete.
“We’re all stoked about that,” said Currier. “The whole staff is in a good mood. We’ve all done our homework and it’s not out of the question to expect a result like that from any of us.”
Tim Burke, of Paul Smiths, N.Y., finished 44th (54:21.2, with four misses) and Leif Nordgren, of Marine on St. Croix, Minn., was 83rd with a time of 58:47.6, with six misses.
The race was held in 55-degree temperatures.
“They salted the course and it made all the difference in the world, compared to (Wednesday’s) training when it was awful,” said Currier.
Currier had finished 61st in his first Olympic race, the 10k sprint last Saturday. His time in that race was 26:58.5, also with four misses.
He had been concerned about the 20k race because it involved more shooting. But he actually had a higher percentage (80) than he did in the 10k (60).
“It only takes one bad flinch to make you miss and add a minute to your time,” said Currier. “It’s really a matter of hitting five shots, instead of three, which I did my last two.”
Currier said he expected to next compete in the 4-by-7.5k relay on Feb. 22.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:[email protected]Twitter: MikeLowePPH