FORT KENT, Maine — There’s a reason the pursuit competition in biathlon is known as a shooter’s race.
Just look at Stockholm’s Russell Currier and Fort Kent’s Grace Boutot with their gold-medal finishes Saturday at the U.S. National Biathlon Championships at the 10th Mountain Lodge.
Currier, a Maine Winter Sports Center skier, came off a disappointing seventh-place finish during Thursday’s sprint races and charged to the front of the pack Saturday in the 12.5-km pursuit thanks in large part to some solid shooting in the range.
Boutot, skiing for Maine Winter Sports Center, also used some solid shooting to post a winning course time in the young women’s 7.5-km pursuit of 26:24.5, four-minutes, nine seconds ahead of second-place finisher and teammate Hilary McNamee of Fort Fairfield.
“I’d done all my homework on this one,” Currier said after his near-photo finish in 37:34.3, just a tenth of a second ahead of Dan Campbell, who skis for Minnesota Biathlon.
“I did much better on the course and in the range than the other day,” Currier said. “This is what I needed.”
Currier missed five targets in four trips through the range, shooting clean in the first standing position.
Both Boutot and McNamee shot clean from the first prone position, but when Boutot missed two and McNamee three targets during the second round of shooting, it allowed the Fort Kent athlete to move into the lead and never look back.
From there Boutot missed only one more target and shot clean in the second standing round.
“It was a really great race and I was happy with it,” Boutot said. When Hilary missed that third shot in the second round, I just took off.”
For each missed target, the biathlete must complete one lap of a 150-meter penalty loop.
When it came to shooting on Saturday, no one could touch Tracy Barnes-Colliander, who shot clean all four rounds on her way to a gold medal finish in the Women’s 10-km pursuit.
Colliander finished with a time of 31:37.7, just more than two minutes ahead of her twin sister and silver medalist Lanny Barnes, who missed one target in the prone rounds but shot clean standing. A minute later Annelies Cook crossed the finish line in third place.
It was a good day for Aroostook County skiers.
Andrea Mayo of Fort Kent came in fourth for youth women’s with a time of 30:53.5 and hitting 11 of 20 targets.
Newt Rogers, also of Fort Kent, ended his race in the men’s pursuit in 12th place with a time of 41:00.6 and six missed targets.
Beth Ann Chamberlain of Caribou placed ninth in the women’s pursuit while Nick Michaud of Fort Kent took fifth place in the youth men’s pursuit.
Competition winds up Sunday at the 10th Mountain Lodge with the U.S. National Biathlon Championship pursuit race getting under way at 10 a.m.