Antholz, Italy – Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) led the US men with a 26th place finish in the 10K Sprint competition at the Antholz Biathlon World Cup today.
Burke, in just his second week of competition after being ill over the holiday break, showed some of the spark that propelled him to seventh in the Biathlon World Championships at this same venue last February. He finished 1:29.1 back, with two penalties behind Michael Greis of Germany. Burke commented on his effort today and his step back into the top 30 finishers, â€œI felt a lot better today. I missed a lot of training in the last month, so this continues to be a slow process. Still, I feel like I am heading in the right direction (with the World Championships in a few weeks).â€
As for his two penalties on a day when 7 of the top 10 shot clean, as well as teammate Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) who finished 31st, Burke added, â€œPeople must be figuring out that you cannot go full throttle and shoot well on this range. The approach to the shooting range here is hard, so I felt like I was pushing the limits of my comfort level on the shooting range. This is the fourth race in a row where I picked up one penalty in each stage. I was trying to be more aggressive today.â€
Greis stretched his winning streak to three in a row, after capturing both the Sprint and Pursuit last week in Ruhpolding. The German star covered the 10K course in 25:05.4 while shooting clean, along with the second and third finishers, Nicolay Kruglov of Russia and Ole Einar Bjorndalen. The Russian and Norwegian finished 3.4 and 6.4 seconds back.
As noted earlier, Hakkinen shot clean again today, just as he did in the 10K Sprint last week in Ruhpolding. Yet today, he finished 31st, 1:42 back, compared to his 17th place last week. He commented, â€œI was happy to shoot clean again and I am in a good position for the Pursuit tomorrow.â€
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), despite having one prone penalty, was close to Hakkinen going into the standing stage. However, he missed the final standing shot, and slipped back to 50th place at the finish, 2:11.4 back.
The Europa Cup team is competing in Osrblie, Slovakia this week, where according to Development Coach James Upham, conditions are challenging. â€œWe are racing on rather old, dirty, manmade snow. It was misting heavily (raining) during the whole competition today. Yet despite this, the tracks were surprisingly fast, since it has not been below freezing for more than a week. Our skis held up really well in the conditions.â€
In the Men’s 10K Sprint, Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) placed 41st, with two prone and four standing penalties, 2:50 back. Duncan Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY), with three prone and one standing penalty finished 50th, 3:19.1 back.
The US women had two finishers in the top 15 in the 7.5K Sprint. Haley Johnson (lake Placid, NY) finished in a personal best 12th place, with two penalties, 2:07.1 behind Juliane Doll of Germany. Upham said Johnson was skiing â€œbetter than ever before, as a result of a lot of training and hard work this year.â€ Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) shot clean, while placing 14th, 2:08.9 back. Caitlin Compton (Warren, VT) placed 22nd, 3:04.3 back, despite five penalties. Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) with two penalties, 3:29.2 back in 26th and Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) with four penalties, 4:09.6 in 32nd followed. Meagan Toussaint (Madawaska, ME), in her first Europa Cup competition placed 11th in the Junior 7.5K Sprint. Toussaint had two penalties, finishing 1:53.7 behind Vera Kalbinok of Belarus.
Tomorrow’s schedule features Pursuit competitions in both Osrblie and Antholz.
Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, as well as archived highlights, is available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org.