FasterSkier reported live at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria, and 2,000 kilometers north in Lillehammer, Norway, the U.S. cross-country and nordic-combined teams found success in Lillehammer. NorAm racing kicked off in British Columbia, and Bozeman SuperTour skiers braved the cold to get distance races in after Saturday’s sprints were canceled.
After spending most of last season away from the World Cup, Jeremy Teela and Lanny Barnes are back in action. Barnes says she is completely recovered from compartment syndrome surgery; Teela loves being a father, but is focusing for this season on one last push for his fourth Olympics. Both held their relay teams in the top 8 this weekend.
Action was exciting in the World Cup biathlon relays on Saturday, with plenty of lead changes, untimely penalties, and aggressive skiing. The scenery was also pretty nice, with the field snaking up long climbs and through open meadows. You’re sure to find some pictures of your favorite biathletes in our photo set – and get a hankering to hit the trails yourself.
With five penalties, Lars Berger didn’t stand a chance of defending his sprint win from Friday. Instead, the last three World Cup Total Score winners crowded the podium. Martin Fourcade of France timed his strike to come out as the clear winner, with Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Bø of Norway finishing second and third.
Aided by an early bib and a mid-race snowstorm, Lars Berger – who was left off the Norwegian national team this year – earned his sixth win but the first in three years. He beat Martin Fourcade of France, who had two fewer penalties but was stuck in slow snow conditions. Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway was third.
Despite a mid-race snowstorm that put later starters at a serious disadvantage, Lowell Bailey finished 16th and Tim Burke 24th in the 10 k sprint in Hochfilzen. They were the only two Americans, men or women, to qualify for the pursuit races on Sunday. “We can’t control the weather,” shooting coach Armin Auchentaller said.
Switzerland has never won a biathlon World Cup race – and it was especially surprising that the first victory would come from its small women’s team. But Selina Gasparin has been close to the podium before and today she sealed the deal in the 7.5 k sprint, eking out a 1-second victory over Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic.
The official beginning to the 2014 racing season didn’t disappoint with tons of exciting nordic action taking place across the globe. FasterSkier was on-site in West Yellowstone to cover the SuperTour opener, Kikkan Randall opened with her best classic-sprint finish of second in Kuusamo, Noah Hoffman notched the fastest men’s time in Sunday’s 15 k pursuit to end the Kuusamo Ruka Triple, and Tim Burke had his first podium of the biathlon season.
Fourcade Capitalizes on Lindström’s Crash to Take Second Win; Burke Third in Östersund World Cup 10 k Sprint
Jean Philippe Le Guellec of Canada placed fourth in today’s 20 k individual, the first non-relay of the World Cup season – despite the fact that he went in unsure about his current level of performance. Teammate Nathan Smith had a career-best 16th-place finish of his own and started checking off the Olympic qualification criteria.
Four years ago, Tim Burke faced a lot of pressure to become the first American to win an Olympic medal in biathlon. He’s in the same situation now, but he says he much better prepared to handle it going into the 2014 World Cup season. We talked to Burke and Susan Dunklee, the top-ranked woman on the U.S. team, about expectations.