Ostersund, Sweden, August 26. The day after winning the Sprint competition, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) placed fourth in today’s 13K Roller Ski Biathlon Pursuit, while Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) took fifth with a furious uphill sprint just 100 meters from the finish.
Overcast skies, a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, and moderate winds greeted the biathletes this morningâ€”welcome to late â€œsummerâ€ in Sweden! The athletes warmed up in long tights while winter hats replaced the shorts and t-shirts of Friday and Saturday. Before the competition, Teela commented, â€œI hope it is cooler when I get back to Utah, because after this weather it is going to be tough to readjust to the heat.â€ Despite these less-than-summer conditions, he took advantage of the conditions to record his best result of the weekend.
The Alaska native, who now lives in Heber City, Utah placed 10th in Friday’s cross-country race and ninth in yesterday’s Biathlon Sprint. That ninth put him out of the starting gate 47 seconds behind Burke today. Even though the winds moderated from Saturday, all of the competitors had trouble avoiding penalties .Both Teela and Burke had visited the penalty loop 6 times by the final standing stage. Burke was well ahead of Teela at that point, and maintained his edge to the finish.
Teela was ninth going into the final standing stage, where he recorded only one penalty while the others around him missed to or three more targets. He left the loop close to Sweden’s Mattias Nilsson, battling him over the hilly wooded Ostersund trail system. Coming to the final 300 meters before the finish, Teela was just a meter behind Nilsson. He described the finish, â€œI did not feel fast enough to pass him on the flat section, just before we went behind the range. The tracks are pretty narrow there, so when he was still in a tuck after the downhill, I surprised him by easing by him really close. He could not react without going off the track or stepping on my ski. It was an extremely close pass; almost too close. Then as we started up the hill, I put my head down and pulled away. I am feeling stronger and better with each race here, so this was a good ending for me.â€
That move gave Teela, with seven penalties, fifth place, 2:31 behind Sweden’s David Eckholm. Eckholm with four penalties finished in 24:16. Switzerland’s Mattias Simmen, with six penalties, was 51 seconds back, while Carl Johann Bergmann of Sweden, with five penalties was third, 1:02 back.
Burke had left the penalty loop after the final shooting stage on the heels of Bergmann. It looked like there would be a battle for third, but it failed to materialize. Burke commented, â€œI was dead today. Missing those hard workouts with the cold last week caught up with me today. I had nothing the whole race.â€ Burke, with eight penalties crossed the finish line 25 seconds behind Bergmann.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), in eighth place, also with eight penalties, 2:57 back echoed Burke’s sentiments. â€œI raced hard the past two days (two third places). Today, there was nothing left in the tank, and I did not shoot as well as I can.â€
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), had nine penalties as he finished 13th today.
With good performances in all three competitions here, US Coach Per Nilsson assessed his team. â€œI am really pleased with the results. Comparing this year and last year, we can see that we moved up against our competition. These races are a good evaluation point. It is still several (three) months until the first World Cup. For those who did well, this will add to their confidence. In places where we are needing work, there is still plenty of time to train and make adjustments. We can see progress and that is most important.â€
From here, the US Biathletes head to Torsby in southern Sweden (and hopefully warmer weather) for the final portion of this training camp. For the final days, they will be skiing indoors at the Fortum Ski tunnel, (where it is ironically always just below freezing) before heading home the end of the month.
The United States Biathlon Association is the National Governing Body for the sport of biathlon in the United States as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Biathlon Union. The US Biathlon Association supports the US Biathlon Team and development of the sport on all levels within the United States.
Jeremy Teela crossing the line