Clare Egan shoots clean in Olympic biathlon

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Clare Egan, of United States of America, waves to cheering fans after her race during the women’s 4×6-kilometer biathlon relay at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Cape Elizabeth native Clare Egan turned in her best performance of the Olympic Winter Games with a perfect 10-for-10 shooting in the women’s 4-by-6-kilometer biathlon relay Thursday night at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Skiing the second leg, Egan kept the United States in medal contention at fourth place, only 16.8 seconds off the lead halfway through the race. The second half didn’t go as well, however, and the U.S. faded to 13th of 18 teams, 2:01.9 behind winner Belarus, which completed the course in one hour, 12:03.4 seconds after requiring nine spare bullets to knock down a cumulative 40 targets.

Sweden was 10.7 seconds back in second place with 12 spares. France took bronze another seven seconds back, using 14 spares.

Each biathlete carries three extra bullets for each of two shooting stages. The bullets must be hand-loaded.

Susan Dunklee of Vermont led off the U.S. team and needed only one spare, in standing position, to clean her 10 targets. She tagged Egan in second place, 7.6 seconds behind early leader Italy. With snow falling steadily, Egan kept up with the leaders and knocked down all five targets in prone, then did so again in standing.

Of the 72 women involved in the relay, Egan was one of only three biathletes who required no spare bullets to hit all 10 targets. The others were Hanna Oberg of silver medalist Sweden and Olga Poltoranina of Kazakhstan, which finished 14th.

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Joanne Reid of California took over from Egan but, with the wind picking up, required all three spares in prone and still left one target standing, necessitating a penalty loop. Reid made up for it in standing, however, needing only one spare to clean her targets and moved up from ninth to fifth, only 21.4 seconds behind the leader, Poland.

Emily Dreissigacker of Vermont skied the anchor led and used five spare bullets – two in prone and three in standing – to hit her 10 targets.

The only event remaining in biathlon competition is Friday’s men’s relay. Stockholm native Russell Currier has yet to compete in PyeongChang. Friday’s relay is his last opportunity.

DINOS LEFKARITIS JR., the Bates College junior who makes up the entire Cyprus Olympic team, wrapped up his competition Thursday in the first run of men’s slalom. Lefkaritis was one of 54 men who received a DNF for failure to successfully complete the challenging course. Another nine did not finish the second run.

Andre Myhrer of Sweden won the event with Ramon Zenhaeusern of Switzerland taking silver and Michael Matt of Austrai bronze.

Lefkaritis also received a DNF in the giant slalom after falling in his first run of that competition.

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