FORT KENT – They didn’t pull in quite the crowds they had hoped for in Presque Isle and Fort Kent, but organizers of the back-to-back World Cup biathlon events deemed them a rousing success.

The biggest highlight, of course, was Lowell Bailey’s ninth-place finish in Sunday’s 15-kilometer mass start, the best result ever for the Maine Winter Sports Center alumnus who hails from Lake Placid, N.Y.

“Just think about what impact this will have on kids in the County who remember Lowell,” said Andy Shepard, CEO and president of the MWSC. “He was part of this. His community service program (while living and training in Fort Kent) was going into schools and developing relationships with school kids and working with them on this course and inspiring them to look for higher goals.

“Those kids are now looking at Lowell having a finish like this in Aroostook County in front of the world,” Shepard said. “That’s got to inspire them, too.”

Martin Fourcade of France won Sunday’s men’s race with only two missed targets out of 20 and a time of 39 minutes, 48.9 seconds. Tomasz Sikora of Poland was 3.1 seconds behind after shooting clean in all four stages and Norway’s Tarjei Boe was third, 4.7 seconds behind Fourcade.

In the women’s 12.5K mass start — the first of American Sara Studebaker’s career — Germans Magdalena Neuner and Andrea Henkel finished first and second with Darya Domracheva of Belarus in third. Each of them missed a single target.

Studebaker missed two — on consecutive shots in her second prone stage — and placed 23rd, 3:38.6 behind Neuner’s time of 39:30.6.

Studebaker’s five-race results from Presque Isle and Fort Kent were 14th, 28th, 17th, 27th and 23rd.

Only once in the previous six stops on the World Cup tour had she cracked the Top 25, and only twice the Top 30.

“I think that’s opened a door for me and really made me feel like, OK, it’s definitely possible to be at this level,” she said.

“I can set my sights on doing well in Sochi (at the 2014 Olympics) and improving my skiing. It’ll be an exciting next couple of years.”

BAILEY AWOKE at 4 a.m. still thinking about how he forgot to load two of his four clips containing five bullets each for Saturday’s pursuit race.

Questions kept zooming through his mind. How do you forget two magazines? How is that possible? You haven’t done that since you were five feet tall.

Think he double-checked before Sunday’s mass start?

“I think I checked my clips 10 times today,” he said.

SUNDAY’S CROWD was 1,222 on another cold day at the 10th Mountain Ski Center, down from Saturday’s high of nearly 2,000. Organizers estimated slightly less than 5,000 spectators watched four days of biathlon in Fort Kent.

Thousands more crowded into Fort Kent for a festival that included music, quilting, a parade, an ice house and exhibits of Acadian culture.

Of course, the biggest audience watched from television sets in Europe. Organizers are hopeful enough were intrigued by the beauty of northern Maine to consider a visit to the region.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Max Cobb of USA Biathlon.

NEXT STOP on the tour is the World Championships in Russia. Fort Kent’s next big biathlon event is the World Junior Championships in 2014.

All World Cup events have been allocated through 2014.

“Our next possibility is 2015,” Cobb said. “We’ll see how it goes, but we hope to be back again.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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