Ostersund, Sweden, August 25. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and teammate Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) placed first and third in the Men’s 9.3K Roller Ski Biathlon Sprint at the Ostersund Ski Stadium, site of the 2008 Biathlon World Championships next February.
Just a little over 12 hours after the cross-country races of Friday evening, all of the competitors were back at the Ostersund Ski Stadium. Although still sunny, conditions changed overnight to definitely fall-like. A cold front passed through bringing showers and leaving behind strong winds and a chilly 12 degrees Celsius temperature. Before the competitions started, US Coach Per Nilsson said, â€œI wonder if anyone will clean today. It will be a tough day to shoot.â€
Burke sat out yesterday’s cross-country race to have one more day of recovery from a cold he had picked up 10 days ago. The day of rest must have helped. He said, â€œThis was my first hard workout in the last week and I felt it. With these fast roller skis, it took one loop to get the feel for them. I was going so fast on one corner that there were spectators scattering, thinking I was going to take them out. My lungs are definitely burning now.â€
The conditions for shooting all day were very windy. Burke had two prone penalties and one in standing, winning in 23:31.7. In light of the strong international field and the wind, he was cautious on the shooting range, commenting, â€œI had to wait for the wind to calm down a bit both in prone and standing. I had no choice. My shooting times must have been atrocious (49 and 45 seconds, respectivelyâ€”about 20 seconds slower than normal). I was happy to get away with only one penalty in standing.â€
Second in today’s competition was Jakob Borjesson of Sweden, with two penalties, 2.5 seconds behind Burke. His teammate Lowell Bailey took third place, giving him another podium result to go with the third in the cross-country race yesterday. Finishing only 9.8 seconds behind Burke, and had just two penalties, one each in prone and standing. After Bailey fought the wind and had his single standing penalty, US coach Per Nilsson had a big smile as he commented, â€œThat was really good for Lowell. Like Tim, he did not have the best conditions for shooting.â€
Bailey, like his coach, was happy, but tired. â€œToday I am tired and sore. It is nice to get another result like this. Racing is a lot more fun when you do well.â€
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) placed 11th, with two penalties in both prone and standing, 47.4 seconds behind Burke. Just behind him was Jay Hakkinen in 11th, with three penalties (two and one), 1:01.6 back. At the finish, Teela said, â€œI had a choice with the wind on the shooting range: either wait or shoot, so I shot and missed!â€
The women competed earlier in the day with Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) finishing ninth and her sister Tracy in fourteenth.
On the way to the stadium, Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), still a bit congested from a summer cold, said, â€œI don’t ‘feel 100%, but think once I get into the race, I will be OK.â€ With the cold in mind, Nilsson told her to â€œjust use today as a threshold workout, and tomorrow if you feel OK, you can race hard.â€ After cleaning both the prone and standing stages, but finishing 14th, 2:49.1 back, Barnes reassessed how she felt. â€œI probably should have not raced. Still, it was good to shoot clean.â€ Barnes and the winner, Tora Berger of Norway were the only women to shoot clean. None of the men’s field shot clean.
Tracy’s sister Lanny finished ninth, 2:25.4 behind the clean-shooting Berger who covered the 7.8K course in 20:38.6. Second place went to Berger’s Norwegian teammate, Solveig Rogstad, with one penalty, 40.5 seconds back. Local favorite, Anna Carin Olofsson, finished third, with two penalties 1:10.3 back.
Lanny, who had two prone penalties, but cleaned standing, explained why she did not match her sister’s shooting today. â€œIn prone, I had a jam and lost a lot of time, as well as my cadence, and that hurt, just like the race did. But it again was fun and good to be racing, after all of the training this year.â€
After two days of challenging competitors from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Great Britain, and China, the US Biathlon team will compete against the group again tomorrow. Biathlon Pursuit competitions will close the weekend.
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.
Tracy and Lanny Barnes