Another week, another personal best for Cook

Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake recorded her second career-best World Cup placing in as many weeks Thursday with an 18th-place finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint event in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.

Cook’s performance came on the heels of last week’s 26th-place finish in the 7.5k sprint in Ruhpolding, Germany.

“Today was really fun for me,” Cook said Thursday. “I was nervous and excited to start fifth because I have never done that, but the upside for me was that I knew I could wave to my parents on the start line. I realize that is pretty dorky, but when they still get up in the middle of the night to watch me race, I always feel a little better if they at least get to see me.”

Cook started with bib 5 in a field of 102 competitors. She shot cleanly in prone and missed her only shot in standing, before crossing the finish line in 21 minutes, 38.9 seconds.

Cook finished in a three-way tie for 18th with Marie Laure Brunet of France and Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland of Norway.

“I love this course. It suits the way that I ski with lots of V2 and powerful strong skiing rather than steep uphills,” Cook said. “I also like how altitude feels. I was very aware that altitude can change shooting and make it trickier because you don’t have as much oxygen and sometimes your eyes blur. It can have a much bigger affect that one might think. I tried really hard to relax and keep that in mind.”

After two weeks of challenging weather in Germany, the conditions in Antholz-Anterselva were finally sunny and clear, with a slight breeze at the range.

“I had a good ride with Kaisa Makkarainen and tried to keep her in my sights as she skied two loops around me. I think that helped when I started to get tired,” Cook said. “There was a lot of great cheering to get me around the course on that last lap, too. The coaches kept yelling that every second counts.”

Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia won the race with clean shooting and a time of 20:28.6. Makkarainen was second in 20:45.3 and Darya Domracheva of Belarus finished third with one penalty and a time of 20:50.5.

Sara Studebaker of Idaho started with bib 23, missed a shot each in prone and standing and posted a finish time of 22:33.9 for 46th place. Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. started with bib 58, missed two shots in prone and picked up one penalty in standing to cross the finish with a time of 22:39.4 for 49th.

Hannah Dreissigacker of Morrisville, Vt. made her World Cup debut Thursday with bib 86, cleaning her first round in prone. At standing, Dreissigacker hit one target, picking up four penalties and finishing with a time of 23:42.9 for 81st place.

“It was a very, very good performance for Annelies,” said Bernd Eisenbichler, US Biathlon’s high performance director. “Today’s performances by the women continued to show that we have several strong contenders for top results. I was also really happy with Hannah and the way she approached her first World Cup race, as well as Susan and Sara’s performances. Today was a good day for Team USA’s women by earning Nation’s Cup points and showing we are on the way up.”

The U.S. men’s team will take centerstage today for the 10k sprint that begins at 8:30 a.m. (eastern). Tim Burke of Paul Smiths will start with bib 13 and Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid will don bib 20.