Flowers for Bonacci with Sixth Place Finish in Kontiolahti
by Sara Donatello
Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT/Team Crosscut) raced to a personal-best sixth place in the men’s 20km individual on Thursday’s opening day of the 2023/24 BMW IBU Cup season in Kontiolahti, Finland. Bonacci had just one miss in standing and crossed the finish line 13 seconds behind Vetle Paulsen of Norway.
“I had a bit of a rough fall in terms of how I was shooting, and in the first race of the year it is always hard to predict where the fitness will be, so I am super happy to see everything come together and make something happen so early in the season,” said Vincent Bonacci.
Bonacci’s time was +2.18.1 behind the individual winner, Johan-Olav Botn of Norway, who also shot 19/20. Botn was joined on the podium by his Norwegian teammates Mats Oeverby and Martin Nevland. Bonacci’s sixth-place finish was an impressive jump from his previous individual best 22nd at the IBU Cup in Idre Fjall, Sweden last season.
“What an exciting day,” said Mike Gibson, U.S. Biathlon IBU Cup coach. “We all have seen Vincent was clearly capable of having a day like this, and it was awesome to see him put in such a strong performance.”
Team USA also had two athletes place top-40 in the men’s 20km individual. Luke Brown (Saint Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) placed 28th and Vacalv Cervenka (Grand Rapids, MN/National Guard Biathlon) crossed the finish line in 40th. Eli Neilsen (Stehekin, WA/National Guard Biathlon) finished 82nd.
For half of the US Women’s IBU Cup Team, the individual race was a first. For Cheresa Bouley (Zimmerman, MN/Minnesota Biathlon), the women’s 15km individual was not only her first individual race, but her first IBU Cup race. Bouley had the women’s top finish, crossing the line in 49th, shooting 17/20. Lina Farra (Heber City, UT/NYSEF) placed 63rd in her first international race in two years, while Anna French (Plymouth, MN/Team Altius) placed 83rd in her first-ever individual race. Grace Castonguay (Jackson, NH/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club) finished 84th with the US women’s top ski time.
IBU Cup racing will continue on Saturday, December 2 with the women’s 7.5km sprint at 5:00 EST and the men’s 10km sprint to follow at 8:30 EST. Live stream is available at eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/.