LAKE PLACID – Since the inception of the World University Games, the United States has never won a medal in men’s biathlon. That was until Bjorn Westervelt, of Stowe, Vermont, competed in his first competition of the Games on Wednesday at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Racing in wet conditions with snow falling down, Westvert claimed a silver medal in the men’s biathlon 10K sprint in a time of 27 minutes, 59.8 seconds. Westervelt trailed only Kazakhstan’s Bekentay Turlubekov, who claimed gold in 27:51.5. The bronze medal went to Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Mukhin in 28:13.7.
Westervelt said he didn’t expect to win the silver medal, but was glad he did.
“I expected to ski fast and shoot as well as possible,” Westervelt said. “Not until I was being shouted at from the side of the course on the second and third lap.”
Westervelt shot 8-for-10 from the shooting range, missing just one shot in each position. He made up most of the work on the skis en route to his win.
After finishing Wednesday’s race, Westervelt watched from the side as Turlubekov crossed the finish line just 8.3 seconds faster than him.
Despite not winning gold, Westervelt said he was happy with his result on the course, which he spent six months training on with the U.S. national team.
“It’s amazing to be competing in the same place we get to train all summer in,” Westervelt said. “It’s amazing to have the new facilities and the whole team here to support.”
After finishing in second place, Westervelt will be at the top of the pack for the next men’s biathlon competition – the 12K pursuit. The competition will take place Thursday at 1:45 p.m.
“(The win) puts me in a good starting position for tomorrow and I’m going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got,” Westervelt said.
Van Ledger, of Lake Placid, continued to dominate from the shooting stage. He shot 7 for 10, while going clean from the prone position.
“Shooting-wise, I’ve been great. I’ve only missed one prone so far – I’m pretty sure,” Ledger said. “It definitely feels good to say that I’m shooting over 90%.”
Ledger had the second-fastest time among all of the U.S. biathletes. He finished 21st overall in 30:53.9 in the 39-person race.
“Skiing felt better than the other two days, so I felt really good,” Ledger said. “Prone was definitely good. I wasn’t quite confident enough on standing, but all together I’m pretty happy with it.”
While Ledger came up short of a podium finish, he like many other U.S. biathletes were excited to see their fellow teammate on the podium.
“To have someone on our home turf on the podium is great,” Ledger said.
Timothy Cobb, who grew up and trained with Westervelt also said he was happy to see his fellow teammate win silver.
“It’s really amazing and inspiring,” Cobb said.
Cobb, of Westford, Vermont, finished in 30th place in a time of 32:33.6.
“I had a good first half of the race. I hit four out of five,” Cobb said. “The second shooting I missed four. I’m disappointed in that. It’s not a good race when you only hit half the targets.”
The U.S. was rounded out by Cale Woods (31:37.2) in 26th, Matej Cervenka (31:58.4) in 28th and Nathan Livingood (32:38.4) in 31st.