Pyeong Chang, Korea. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) placed 29th in the 10K Sprint yesterday in the first-ever Biathlon World cup competition in Korea.
Bailey had a single penalty in the standing stage, after shooting clean in prone to finish 29th, 1:47.7 behind Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway. Svendsen’s winning time of 29:57.4, with one penalty is a good indicator of the just how hard the Pyeong Chang Layout is, as 10K winning times are normally 3-5 minutes faster. US Biathlon High Performance Director described the tracks as, â€œvery tough, with nearly no flat sections, long steep uphills, and difficult downhills.â€
These difficult conditions led to two serious falls by US Biathletes. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) fell on the last loop after the standing stage in the 10K Sprint. He lost considerable time with the fall, in addition to missing three standing shots due to heavy winds. Burke also had one prone penalty, and finished 48th, 3:12.5 back. Jeremy Teela, with three prone and two standing penalties, finished 57th, 3:57 back.
The second and more serious fall was by Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN) in Women’s 7.5K Sprint today. Compton skied into prone with the seventh fastest loop, just 15 seconds behind the eventual winner Magdalena Neuner. Compton had two penalties in prone and was back out on the tracks still skiing well when she took a serious fall in a difficult section. Nevertheless, despite bleeding profusely from cuts on her forehead, nose, and chin she continued to the shooting range. She hit the first two shots, before recording three penalties. Eisenbichler caught up with her after she left the shooting range wondering if she wanted to continue, as she was bleeding profusely. She continued and finished 60th, 4:21 behind Neuner, who won in 20:32.1.
US Physiotherapist Martin Biermaier took Compton to the stadium doctor immediately after the finish. She was later seen by a German physician who confirmed that she had no broken bones, but had several cuts, which were treated. Eisenbichler said she has not lost any of her enthusiasm and is hoping to move up in Saturday’s 10K Pursuit.
The US Team currently has only one start position for women at World Cups. Both Compton and Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) are in Pyeong Chang, as there will be a Mixed Relay competition on Sunday. Eisenbichler said, â€œIt was a very hard decision for the staff to decide whether to start Haley or Caitlin would start the sprint. After the decision was made, we had good meetings with Haley to explain (the situation) and she was really professional in dealing with our decision. Haley will lead off the Mixed Relay on Sunday.â€
The Men’s 12.5K Pursuit is scheduled for Friday starting at 11 AM CET (5 AM EST).
Live streaming video coverage of the Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, and archived highlights including those from the World Championships, are available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org.