LAKE PLACID — If someone were to describe Bjorn Westervelt’s performance in the men’s 12.5K biathlon pursuit race Thursday, they would probably say “clutch.”
After winning the first FISU Winter World University Games medal in biathlon by a men’s U.S. athlete Wednesday, Westervelt one-upped his own result by winning gold in 35 minutes, 38.3 seconds Thursday. Westervelt said Thursday’s race was completely different than his silver medal winning performance on Wednesday.
“Yesterday was mostly a skiing race,” Westervelt said. “Today really comes down to the shooting as well. Just dealing with the pressure of tugging into the range and knowing exactly where you are at mid-race. It’s really awesome.”
Westervelt, of the University of Vermont and Stowe, Vt., shot 16-for-20 from the shooting stage en route to his win. Ukraine’s Dmytrii Hrushchak won the silver medal in a time of 36:26.3, while Poland’s Wojciech Janik was third in 36:46.4. Westervelt started in the race in the second place position and remained in podium position for most of Thursday’s race.
“I knew what I had to do,” Westervelt said. “I’ve done it before, I just had to make it happen in the race,” he said.
After missing four of his first 15 shots, Westervelt entered the final shooting stage trailing Hrushchak, who at that point hadn’t missed a shot. But once Hrushchak missed his lone shot of the race and Westervelt shot clean, all he had to do was stay on his feet for the final lap to win gold.
“I knew I was coming into second right there and I knew I had to do it and it just happened,” Westervelt said.
Westervelt won the second gold medal by a U.S. athlete during the games after Niklas Malacinski and Evan Nichols captured the Nordic combined team sprint event Tuesday.
Westervelt said it’s an awesome experience to be the lone men’s U.S. biathlete to medal at the Games.
“I just hope we can keep it rolling into the future,” he said.
Lake Placid native Van Ledger, of Montana State, was the second-fastest U.S. biathlete for the second day in a row. Ledger placed 20th overall in 41:53.1. “My skiing felt way better,” Ledger said. “I didn’t feel like I died too hard at any point, so that was great. Shooting was a little shakier, but we’re kind of getting towards the end of the week, so it makes sense.”
Ledger, who has made quite an impression as one of the top shooters, turned in a 15-for-20 performance from the shooting stage. He said during the months of September and October he worked on his shooting.
“I made a goal of just dry fire a certain amount of time every week,” Ledger said. “In the past I’ve felt really good skiing, but shot poorly and it didn’t really matter. It feels good to have those months of practicing this to really pay off.”
Nathan Livingood, of Paul Smith’s College and Falmouth, Maine, had the third best results among the U.S. team. He placed 23rd overall in 43:11.6.
Livingood said he was proud of his performance, especially from the shooting stage. He shot 16-for-20.
“I cleaned all my standing targets so I’m happy about that,” Livingood said.
CANADA’S ROUSSEAU WINS GOLD
In the Women’s 10K Pursuit, Canada’s Shilo Rousseau claimed a gold medal, finishing in a time of 32:24.4. Poland’s Anna Nedza-Kubniec (33:04.5) and Barbara Skroblszewska (33:39.3) won silver and bronze, respectively.
American Emma Stertz placed 13th in 35:22.5.
U.S. 9, HUNGARY 1
Luke Aquaro, of Hobart College, supplied three goals and an assist as the United States won its final preliminary round game and advanced to the tournament semifinals by blasting Hungary (2-3) at Clarkson University’s Cheel Arena.
The U.S. finished 4-1 in Group B, tied with Kazakhstan for first place with 12 points. The U.S. will play a semifinal game Saturday at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
Jack Junich, Steven Szmul, John Mulera, Matthew Hanewall, Quinn Green and Mitchell Walinski each scored for the U.S squad, which is coached by Canton native Mark Taylor. Evan Ruschil made 18 saves in goal.
UKRAINE 3, CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Hlib Krivoshapkin scored twice and added an assist as the Ukraine upended the Czech Republic in each team’s preliminary final at SUNY Canton’s Roos House. Goalie Bogden Diachenko made 32 saves for the Ukraine (2-3).
SWEDEN 5, LATVIA 3
Phillip Elgstam delivered two goals and two assists as Sweden won its first game of the tournament in its preliminary finale by beating Latvia at SUNY Canton’s Roos House. Tom Skold added a goal and two assists for Sweden (1-4) against Latvia (2-3).
KOREA 8, GREAT BRITAIN 4
Hyosuk Kim totaled two goals and three assists to lead four players with at least two goals as Korea closed out preliminary play by defeating Great Britain (0-5) at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall. Hyun Jin Jeong, Jaesuk Kim and Beomjun Park also each scored twice for Korea (1-3).
MALACINSKI MEDALS AGAIN
Niklas Malacinski recorded a personal medal sweep, picking up a bronze to go with the gold and silver he has already won in the Games, as the United States team finished third in the Mixed Team Normal Hill Cross Country race on Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Malacinski combined with Erin Bianco for a time of 13:03.2 for USA 1. They finished behind gold-medalist Japan 1 (12:14.7) and silver-medalist Poland 1 (12:55.2).
U.S. REACHES FINAL
The U.S. men’s team defeated Switzerland 6-3 in a semifinal match at the Saranac Lake Civic Center in Saranac Lake to advance to the gold medal final.
The United States (6-3), after topping second-place Switzerland, will play Great Britain in the final Saturday. Great Britain (8-1) defeated Canada 6-4 in the other semifinal.
In the women’s semifinals, China knocked off the United States 6-5. The U.S. suffered its first loss in the tournament, going 8-0 until its defeat to China (7-2).
In the other semifinal, Korea beat Great Britain 10-4.
SWEDEN WINS FINAL
Sweden defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the Mixed Team Parallel Big Final to capture gold on Whiteface Mountain.
Gustav Dalmaln, Evelina Fredricsson, Sara Rask and Wilhelm Vaenje led the Swedish team to victory. Switzerland took silver and Germany won bronze by beating Slovakia 3-1.
KIM RACES TO VICTORY
Minsun Kim of Korea skated to a gold medal in the women’s 500 meters, registering a time of 38.53 at the Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid.
Moe Kumagai of Japan won silver (39.41) and Chaeeun Park of Korea took bronze (40.01). American Anna Quinn was 14th in 41.82.
In the men’s 500, Japan’s Wataru Morishige won gold in 35.30. Japanese teammate Kazuya Yamada won silver (35.84) and Poland’s Marek Kania won bronze (35.99). The U.S.’s William Gebauer finished 12th.
In the Mixed Gender Relay final, Korea won the gold medal with a time of 3:10.84. Japan (3:12.03) won silver and Spain (3:12.14) added bronze. The U.S. team placed fifth.
KOREANS SWEEP MEDALS
Korea’s women’s and men’s 1,500-meter teams claimed all the medals in each event at the Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid.
Korea’s Minjeong Choi, Geonhee Kim and Whimin Seo won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, for the women. Taesung Kim, Jeongmin Lee and Sungwoo Jang swept for Korea for the men.
Times staff contributed to this report.