Flowers for Bonacci, Top 10 Finish for Germain to Kick Off Open European Championships
by Sara Donatello
For the second time this season, Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT/Team Crosscut) raced to a sixth place finish to land himself in the flower ceremony in the men’s 20km individual. It was, however, his first time shooting a perfect 20 for 20, one of just three athletes to do so. Bonacci crossed the line +2.27 behind the leader Vebjoern Soerum of Norway, who also shot clean.
“I am super happy to have hit 20/20, it was an awesome day to have a good day,” said Bonacci. “I had amazing skis provided by a rather shoestring operation of just two techs (shoutout to Danilo and Alberto for pulling off some magic) and having Michael as a coach is also a great help as he is wonderful to work with. All in all, it was a great day for the US in Slovakia and I am super excited for the races to come.”
Maxime Germain (Chamonix-Mont Blanc, FRA/National Guard Biathlon) skied to a season-best 10th place, putting two American athletes in the top-10, a first this season. Germain hit 19 of 20 targets, the only miss coming in his first prone shoot, and finished +1.18 behind Bonacci and +3.45 behind Soerum.
"One of my big goals this year was to have a solid performance in a four-stage shooting and today was a huge milestone for me," said Germain. "It gives me confidence for the future and I'm looking forward to more racing!"
Team USA’s Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, MN/National Guard Biathlon) and Nikolas Burkhart (Olympic Valley, CA/Team Crosscut) also placed in the top 60, finishing 49th and 53rd. Bjorn Westervelt (Stowe, VT/University of Vermont) crossed the line in 88th and Luke Brown (St. Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in 100th.
Just hours later in the women’s 15km individual, Chloe Levins (Rutland, VT/Team Crosscut) skied to a season-best 28th, also cleaning all 20 of her targets. Levins finished +4.24 behind Norway’s Maren Kirkeeide, who snagged the top spot with a clean shoot as well.
Tara Geraghty-Moats (West Fairlee, VT/National Guard Biathlon) also had a season-best finish, placing 54th, missing just two shots in each of her standing shoots. Sarah Beaulieu (Fort Fairfield, ME/Auburn Ski Club) made her IBU Cup debut in the women’s individual, finishing 97th with nine misses on the day. Cheresa Bouley (Zimmerman, MN/Minnesota Biathlon) raced to 58th, while Lina Farra (Heber City, UT/NYSEF) finished in 72nd and Anna French (Plymouth, MN/Team Altius) in 88th.
“Our team had a great day,” said coach Mike Gibson. “I’m really impressed with our effort on the course and poise on the range. Some challenging wind and wet snowfall turning to rain made for a difficult day. I’m really proud of our athletes and staff who rose to the challenge!”
Focus now turns to the upcoming sprint races slated for Friday, January 26. The men’s 10km sprint will kick off at 5:00 ET/11:00 CET, followed by the women’s 7.5km sprint at 8:30 ET/2:30 CET. For information on how to watch, visit usbiathlon.org/how-to-watch. Spectator resources can be found at usbiathlon.org/spectator-resources.