On Friday, Team USA tied its best-ever Olympic biathlon finish, finishing sixth in the Men’s 4 x 7.5 km Relay at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea. The team was led by four-time Olympians Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke. The U.S. previously finished in sixth place in the Men’s Relay at the 1976 Games in Sapporo, Japan.
The four U.S. team members included the aforementioned Bailey and Burke, Sean Doherty and Leif Nordgren. They finished 3 minutes, 50.2 seconds behind the winning time of Sweden, with 14 spares and two penalties.
Twenty-two year old Doherty (pictured at top, from the 2014 Sochi Games) is the youngest member of the U.S. Men’s biathlon team. He had the best leg of the relay, cleaning all five targets in standing. His efforts propped Team USA to only 37 seconds from contending for their first-ever Olympic biathlon medal.
“Standing was good, I had a little break in the wind and I took full advantage,” said Doherty. “I shot pretty fast, pretty aggressive but I hit all five from the clip and that’s what really moved things up.”
For Bailey and Burke, this is most likely their final Olympic race after competing in four Games together. They are optimistic about the future of their sport in the U.S., noting the improvements of the biathlon program over the years.
“I feel like it’s in good hands,” Burke said. “We have an incredible staff, great group of coaches, some great young guys and girls coming up. There’s still a lot of work to do. We’ve made big steps and we’re all really happy about that, but we want more and expect more and I think this program can do more.”
Although the U.S. will be leaving PyeongChang without securing an Olympic biathlon medal, the Men’s Relay sixth place finish time of 1:19:06.7 is Team USA’s highest finish ever in any Olympic biathlon event. Additionally, the U.S. improved one notch from their previous seventh place Relay finish at the 2017 World Championships.
Wind created problems for all 18 teams in the race, with only gold-medal winning Sweden avoiding the penalty loop. This was Sweden’s first-ever Olympic relay gold medal. Norway won the silver, and Germany took the bronze.