Ostersund, Sweden, December 3. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) chalked up another personal best today with a 19th place finish in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit competition on the closing day of the Ostersund Biathlon World Cup.
Three competitions here resulted in three personal bests for Burke. He began with 30th in the 20K Individual, came back with 22nd place in yesterday’s 10K Sprint, followed by the 19th place today. These results did not surprise Burke. â€œI had a good year of training, and did all of the work. So this is where I expected to be.â€
The fifth day of competition in Ostersund dawned crisp and cold, finally a perfect day for the Men’s and Women’s Pursuit competitions. The organizers added more stored snow to the tracks, which froze hard overnight. During the night, all of the cloudiness and warmth from the previous day exited Ostersund. Accordingly, the stadium flags laid flat against the poles, leaving no excuse for shots straying from the mark today because of the wind.
Burke started in 22nd position, 1:39 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen, who claimed another victory today. After shooting clean in the first prone stage, Burke moved up five or six places. He cleaned the second stage, moving him solidly into 17th position. He slipped out of the top 20 with one penalty in the first standing stage, but moved back to 17th by the penultimate shooting stage.
In that final standing stage, he missed two shots, leaving the penalty loop in 22nd position with two athletes five seconds ahead of him. On that final shooting stage, Burke commented, â€œI was too conservative on the final stage. I overheld on both of the shots that I missed; the shooting will come as the season goes on and I will not miss them. Still, I was happy to clean prone today.â€
Burke skied aggressively on the final loop, catching and leaving the Michael Roesch of Germany and Lars Berger of Norway in his wake. â€œI skied easily on the first four loops. My skis were good, so the effort was not too hard. Coming off the penalty loop, I knew I would pass those two. I stayed just behind for part of the final loop and then pulled away.â€
His final burst put Burke in the top 20 for the first time; 1:55.1 behind Bjorndalen. The Norwegian continues to dominate this season despite four penalties today. He and long-time rival Raphael Poiree of France battled for more than half of the race, with Poiree faltering with one penalty in the final stage. The French star fell to third place, 29.2 seconds back, and 9.5 seconds behind Dmitri Iarochenko of Russia, who claimed second. Both Poiree and Iarochenko had one penalty.
Burke’s teammate, Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) started the Pursuit in 55th position, but fell back to a 59th place finish. Teela had nine penalties, finishing 6:44.7 back.
Even with the three best World Cup performances of his life, Burke was not jubilant. â€œYou could say I am pleased, but not happy. I still have a long way to go this season.â€ Still, it was a great week for him and the US Biathlon team.
The Women’s 10K Pursuit kicked off the day, with Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) as the sole US entrant. Barnes had five penalties in the first three shooting stages. The leader lapped her after the third stage, which ended her day. Linda Grubben of Norway claimed the victory in 31:07.4, with one penalty. Local favorite Anna Carin Olofsson also with one penalty had her best performance of the week, finishing, 23.3 seconds back. Surprise Sprint Champion Magdalena Gwizdon of Poland, with three penalties, dropped to third 59.7 seconds back.
The World Cup circuit now shifts south to Hochfilzen, Austria. Competitions start on Friday Dec. 8, with Sprints, followed by Pursuit competitions on Saturday, and Relays on Sunday. Conditions in Austria have been very warm and are likely to remain so. Organizers have brought in snow from several glaciers to prepare the venue for the three days of racing.
Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season is available by clicking the Biathlon World Cup logo at the top right of the page at www.usbaithlon.org.
Source: US Biathlon