Cook places 36th in biathlon sprint

Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake opened the final World Cup biathlon event of the season with a 36th-place finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint Thursday in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

With temperatures hovering at -15 Celsius, Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic posted her second career win with clean shooting and a time of 21:25.6. Andrea Henkel of Germany was second in 21:42.8 and Miriam Gossner of Germany was third in 21:49.2 with one miss.

Cook turned in a time of 23:40 with two misses.

“Today was the first really cold race of the season, but I managed to stay warm so I am glad of that,” commented Cook. “It’s always so tricky to try and keep your fingers warm enough to feel the trigger. This sprint was decent and I am satisfied with how I did.

“Shooting was about average, and kind of went my usual way: clean prone and miss in standing. I am working on that though. It was nice to be on a course where you could just ski hard and stay relaxed because there is absolutely nothing technical about it here, so you could just go for it.”

Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. was the top American finisher with her 29th-place finish in 23:17 (two misses). Sara Studebaker of Boise, Idaho placed 66th in 24:53.7 with two misses.

“Even though it is the final stretch of our season, I am still experimenting with different ways to pace my race,” Dunklee said. “Today I learned a little more about when and where to push over the tops of the hills. I had a great ride behind Tora (Berger) during my second loop, and that helped me stay focused after a disappointing first shooting stage.”

Dunklee and Cook will race for Team USA in Saturday’s 10k pursuit.

Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths will hit the course today for the 10k sprint. Bailey will start with bib No. 2 and Burke will wear No. 32. Burke is currently 12th in the overall World Cup standings, while Bailey is 30th. Martin Fourcade of France sits atop the standings.