These Sprints will be the first individual competitions of the New Year on the Biathlon World Cup Circuit, following the relays today and yesterday. The women with Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) will kick off the day in the Women’s 7.5K Sprint at 12:30 CET, with the Men’s 10K at 2:55 PM CET. Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) are the US entrants. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) will not compete here as he was ill for part of the holiday break and needed a bit more recovery time. Burke will compete next week in Ruhpolding. With Burke available, the US plans to compete in the Men’s Relay next Thursday.
Just a year after the athletes trudged through a little snow and a lot of running water in Oberhof, the weather gods have again favored this legendary biathlon venue. US Biathlon High Performance director Bernd Eisenbichler commented, â€œConditions are very good now, especially for Oberhof where sometimes there is little snow. The tracks are a mixture of manmade and natural snow. It has been cold, so they are in good shape.â€
The hometown crowds (from all over Germany) cheered their Women’s Relay to victory yesterday, while they disappointedly had to settle for third behind Norway and Russia in the Men’s Relay. In the Sprints, they can look forward to more of the same. Even with their new star, Magdalena Neuner sick at home this week, the German women are so strong that any one of five or six others could get a victory tomorrow. It is like a â€œpick any card game,â€ either Wilhelm, Glagow, Denkinger or Henkel could win.
The German men are not so blessed. They are rebuilding after the retirements of Sven Fischer and Ricco Gross. They may not have anyone who can challenge Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway, but any of their younger athletes, Greis, Wolf, Birnbacher, Pump, or Roesch could possibly be on the podium tomorrow.
US Biathlete Jay Hakkinen hopes to be in the mix tomorrow. After a strong 9th place in the Individual at Kontiolahti, he is looking forward to a good result here. Hakkinen trains part of the year at this venue, knows it as well as his German rivals, and would like nothing better than to outdo them on their â€œhome turf.â€
The competitions conclude with the Mass Starts on Sunday. Hakkinen is the only US biathlete with the possibility of a start. The top 30 in the World Cup Points after tomorrow’s Sprint will get the nod.
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 .
Source: US Biathlon