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U.S. Men’s Relay Team Makes History at Home

by Joseph Bonacci

The men’s 4x7.5km relay kicked off the Soldier Hollow BMW IBU World Cup with the U.S. Biathlon Team racing to an historic fourth place finish, the best-ever U.S. finish on home soil in the discipline. The quartet of Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT/Team Crosscut), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, NH/National Guard Biathlon), Campbell Wright (Wanaka, NZL/U.S. Biathlon) and Jake Brown (St. Paul, MN/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) each put on world class performances both on the range and on skis to achieve this milestone in front of a home crowd.  

Starting in bib 14,, Bonacci kicked off the race with a phenomenal lead leg, shooting clean and tagging off to Doherty in third place, just 10 seconds off the leaders. Bonacci, who is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, wanted to “put it on for my city”. The local fans showed up, filling every corner of the course, making sure the team could feel the support. 

“We had more fans than the last time the World Cup was here,” Doherty said after the race, “Real home crowd feeling, I have to say I love it. It was fun, we put on a good show which is what we always aim to do.” 

Doherty continued pushing, staying with the leaders and, after using just three spares on the range, tagged off to Wright in fifth place. Wright, as we have seen time and time again, had a spectacular leg, only needing one spare round in prone and cleaning his standing shoot to push the team up to second place at the third and final exchange. Brown, despite having to ski one penalty lap, kept his calm and pushed to the limit on his final lap, fending off a late charge from the Swedish team, to secure the team a fourth place finish. 

“My favorite spot was out on cabin hill. I went by the fans and they were chanting ‘Jake, Jake, Jake,’ which was pretty surreal,” Brown said just after finishing, “I had never had something like that before, so that was really cool.” 

The team crossed the line just +1.30 off the leading Norwegian team of Sturla Holm Laegreid, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thinges Boe and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen. Norway was joined on the podium by Italy’s Patrick Braunhofer, Tommaso Giacomel, Didier Bionaz and Lukas Hofer, and Germany’s Justus Strelow, Johannes Kuehn, Benedikt Doll and Philipp Nawrath.

*The best-ever U.S. men's relay finish took place in Ruhpolding Germany in 1988, where the team of J. Thompson, C. Schreiner, D. Binning and L. Nelson raced to third place.

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