Antholz, Italy, January 19. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), propelled by the 13th fastest ski time in the field, jumped from 26th in the 10K Sprint on Friday to 16th place in the 12.5K Pursuit competition today.
Burke, who finished 1:57.2 behind Bjorn Ferry of Sweden, talked about his return to form: â€œIt felt awesome to be back up there where I want to be. This was another small step no, it was a huge step today. I had a really good last lap. I started about five seconds behind (Andreas) Birnbacher of Germany, who I caught about 800 meters before the finish and then pulled away from him.â€
Starting in 26th position, Burke moved up early in the first loop to the low twenties. He shot clean in both prone stages, which put him into the mid-teens. Although he picked up one penalty in the first standing stage, he was in a big pack, within 10 seconds of tenth, coming to the final standing stage. He added two more penalties there, while several in the group either shot clean or had but one miscue and moved ahead, leaving Burke to duel with Birnbacher over the final 2.5K. Burke was more than pleased with how far he has come since arriving in Europe just over 2 weeks ago. He added, â€œIt is amazing how much I have improved in just nine days (since the relay in Ruhpolding). It was nice to have a race like this going into World Championships (starting February 9). Additionally, my parents were here today. It was great that they could be here when I had a good race.â€
On a day like today, when Burke was able to pull away in the final 2.5K, ski preparation was crucial to his success. In the following video, US Biathlon Wax Technician Andreas Emslander discusses the steps he goes through in preparing skis on race days.
By scoring World Cup Points in both yesterday’s Sprint as well as today, Burke jumped from 51st in the Overall World Cup rankings to 41st place. His teammate Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) is currently in 34th in the rankings. Hakkinen started in 31st position today, falling back after picking up three penalties in the two prone stages. Despite clean standing shooting, Hakkinen finished 41st, 4:15.8 back. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) had one prone penalty, but five in standing to finish 49th, 4:51.8 back.
Ferry of Sweden was the surprise winner today as he notched his first-ever World Cup victory over Greis, Bjorndalen et al. The tall Ferry had just one prone penalty as he cruised to a 32:46 win. Nicolay Kruglov of Russia, with two penalties, pulled away from German star Michael Greis, with four penalties in the final loop. The Russian finished 26.5 seconds back, and Greis was 28.7 seconds back.
At the Europa Cup in Osrblie, Slovakia, Duncan Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY) finished 49th in the 12.5K Pursuit, with seven penalties, 7:33.4 behind Hans Gjerdrem of Norway.
In the Women’s 10K Pursuit, Juliane Doll of Germany, with three penalties, notched her second victory in 29:54. Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) slipped to 19th today, after a 12th place yesterday. She finished 6:33.4 off the pace with six penalties. Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN) finished 25th, with ten penalties, 8:16.8 back, while Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) was 29th, with five penalties, 9:21.8 back.
These competitions conclude this portion of the World Cup and Europa Cup Seasons for the US Biathlon Team. The World Championships in Ostersund, Sweden are the next senior level competitions, while the Youth and Junior World Championships start next Saturday in Ruhpolding, Germany. The US will field a team of 13 competitors there.
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.