Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth skis ahead of Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold during a 10-kilometer World Cup biathlon sprint on Friday in Hochfilzen, Austria. Egan finished ninth, while Tandrevold placed second to help Norway sweep the three podium positions. U.S. Biathlon photo

HOCHFILZEN, Austria — Clare Egan of Cape Elizabeth put herself in position to be an early selection for the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team by finishing ninth Friday in a 7.5-kilometer World Cup biathlon sprint.

It was the third straight top-15 result for Egan, who was in first place after clearing all five targets in the prone shooting stage. She hit 4 of 5 targets in standing shooting and wound up 46.4 seconds behind winner Tiril Eckhoff of Norway, and just 22 seconds away from what would have been her second career top-three finish.

“I’m really happy with my performance and also with my result,” said Egan. “Sometimes those two things don’t line up, so when they do it’s a great feeling.”

After a slow start this season at the first World Cup stop in Finland, Egan has raised her level during an extended stop in Austria. Last weekend, she placed 10th in a sprint and 13th in a pursuit.

Friday’s result was the best of her career in a sprint race.

“Today was another beautiful day for biathlon,” said Egan. “I had excellent skis once again so a big thanks to our wax team. I’ve finally figured out a way to ski this course that works for me, so I just went out and did my thing again.”


Egan, currently ranked 22nd in the World Cup standings, is the first U.S. women to achieve the qualifying criteria for early selection to the Olympics, by virtue of two top-12 finishes this season. Up to two places on the U.S. team will be awarded to women who meet the criteria by the end of the 2020-21 season in March.

Egan, who turned 33 in November, nearly retired after the 2017-18 season, when she participated in the Olympics for the first time in PyeongChang, South Korea. Instead, she decided to continue with the sport, and she had a breakout season in 2018-19, finishing 18th in the World Cup standings.

Now she’s on the verge of another trip to the Olympics, though she said qualifying for the team hasn’t been her main goal this season.

“Olympic qualification standards are not a focus of mine,” Egan said. “I got stuck in that trap in 2018 and I think it made me aim for the minimum I needed to achieve rather than the maximum that I could achieve. I’m aiming higher now and open to more possibilities. Of course, if I find myself doing biathlon in 2021-22, the pre-qualification won’t change how I approach the summer training or the winter competitions. Representing my country is an honor every day, whether during a training session or at the Olympic Games.”

Egan will race again Saturday in a 10K pursuit, and is also likely to be in the 30-person field Sunday for a 12.5K mass start race.

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