Ruhpolding, Germany, January 13. Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), after a clean shooting 17th place in the 10K Sprint on Saturday moved up one place today with a 16th place finish in the 12.5K Pursuit.
Hakkinen was not able to repeat his clean shooting of yesterday on another windless afternoon, as he had three penalties in the final three stages today. He breezed through the first prone stage as did teammate Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), dropping all five targets with ease.
In the second stage, was Hakkinen in the middle of the range and Bailey on point 22, both missed the last shot. As others were also missing, their positions did not change much. Hakkinen again entered the shooting stage, just a few positions ahead of Bailey. This time, Bailey cleaned and Hakkinen went to the penalty loop. The two left the stadium area in positions 20 and 21.
As in most Pursuit competitions, the final stage is decisive; shoot well and move up; anything less and the places slip away. This time, Hakkinen toppled four targets quickly, but missed the fifth, while Bailey hit three and missed the final two. At the finish, Hakkinen had jumped to 16th place, 2:2.8 behind Michael Greis of Germany. Bailey slipped back to 29th, 3:07.5 back.
Still, both US Biathletes scored World Cup Points and were not disappointed with the results. Hakkinen said, â€œYou always want more, but this was still good. I moved up. I am still trying to get used to being in these fast races (after several sub-par competitions several weeks ago). It is nice to be consistent again. One of the keys today was my skis, which were super!â€
After Hakkinen’s comment about his skis, he and Bailey complimented each other on their skiing, as the two were either close together or in sight most of the afternoon.
At the same time, Bailey commented, â€œMy goal was to stay in the points today and I did that. That prone shot I missed was because Frode (Andresen) hit my ski just as I squeezed the trigger. No question it would have gone down. However, after the third (clean) stage, I could see a top 20 finish. I totally overheld those two shots I missed! They looked great and I just waited too long.â€
Coach Per Nilsson, speaking to Bailey, added, â€œNow you are setting your goals higher, which is good. Now you have been in that position, so the next time you will be better prepared.â€
Nilsson again echoed his sentiments from yesterday that the men were looking better. When asked if he thought they were over their down period, he said, â€œI hope so!â€
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) did not move up, although he dropped just one spot from 36th yesterday to 37th today. â€œI was in no-mans land the whole race. I was skiing alone. I still cannot go as fast as I would like to on the top end (of my speed). It will still take a few more races.â€ Burke had a single penalty in each of the four stages, finishing 3:52 behind Greis. Still, Burke’s skiing continues to improve as he moved well over the final 2.5K from 42nd position after the final standing stage to finish 37th.
On the heels of Individual competitions in the European Cup competition at Langdorf, Germany, US Biathletes competed in Sprints today. In the Men’s 10K Sprint, Duncan Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY) placed 47th, with three penalties, all in the prone stage to finish 2:51 behind Ronny Hafsas of Norway. Hafsas also with three penalties, won in 26:28.5. Douglas, a veteran of more than 20 years in biathlon, commented on the tracks, â€œLangdorf, I would argue has the hardest Men’s 20km and 10K courses I have ever encountered.â€
In the Junior Men’s 10K Sprint, Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) had another excellent result with a 10th place finish. Currier had only one penalty to cross the line 1:40.3 behind Arnd Pfeiffer of Germany. Pfeiffer shot clean, winning in 26:58.6. Following Currier were Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) in 25th, with four penalties, 3:02.3 back and Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN) in 26th, with two penalties, 3:05.9 back.
Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) was the top US woman in the Women’s 7.5K, in 22nd place with one penalty, 2:13.7 behind the winner Jenny Adler of Germany. Adler shot clean to win in 22:04.1. Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) closely followed Barnes in 24th, with three penalties, 2:25.3 back. The remaining US women finished in close succession with Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), 33rd with two penalties, 3:13.5 back; Caitlin Compton (Warren, VT), with six penalties, 3â€30.8 back; Laura Spector (Lenox, MA), 40th, 3;34.4 back, and Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) 50th, with four penalties, 4:21.5 back. Brynden Manbeck (Grand Rapids, MN) competed in the Junior Women’s Sprint, finishing 14th, with three penalties, 2:56.1 behind /Susan Konig of Germany.
US Biathlon Development Coach James Upham commented on today’s competitions in Langdorf, â€œRussell Currier had a great shooting day and skied very well. No question, he was on form. At the same time, everyone attacked the course as we suggested in our team meeting last night. Haley and Caitlin skied very well. All of the women probably took a few extra penalties because of their aggressive skiing. Still, we were pleased with the results here, since everyone has only been in Europe for a few days.â€
The Europa Cup team now moves to Osrblie, Slovakia for three competitions this week, while the World Cup team goes to Antholz, Italy for the final World Cup, before the World Championships next month in Ostersund, Sweden.
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