Ostersund, Sweden. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) finished 25th in the 15K Mass Start today at the Biathlon World Championships.
Burke, with five penalties, crossed the finish line 2:42.6 behind Emile Hegle Svendsen of Norway, who had one penalty. Svendsen covered the five loops in 36:12.64, edging teammate Ole Einar BjÃ¶rndalen, also with one penalty by four-tenths of a second. Third went Maxim Tchoudov of Russia, with three penalties, 24.9 seconds back.
It was a frustrating day for Burke, as he had several chances to move up during the competition and each time, the penalty loop blocked his way. In each of the first three shooting stages, he came to the shooting range in a large group between 19th and 24th position. He picked up a single penalty in each stage, which put him in a holding pattern, unable to move out of the group. In the final standing stage, with 20th position on the range at the same time, he picked up two additional penalties, as did several competitors around him, again resulting in virtually no change of position.
At the finish, with disappointment in his voice, he said, â€œThe skiing was nothing special today. I am definitely a little tired after five races in 10 days (including the relay competition) just 24 hours before the Mass Start). As for the Championships as a whole, I scored World Cup Points in every race and had two top 10 finishes. However, I never showed the improvements that I made in my training this year. The results are really nothing special. I expect to be in the points in every race.â€
Despite having a day below his expectations, Burke was optimistic as he talked about the rest of the season (three more World Cups), â€œI have only raced half as many times as most of these guys. I feel like I have a lot of good races left in me this season. I am looking forward to the next few weeks.â€
In the Women’s 4 X 6K Relay, the US Team of Lanny Barnes, Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY), and Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN) finished 18th, with one penalty and eleven spare rounds, 7:46.7 behind Germany. The German women led from start to finish, despite one penalty and nine spare rounds in a time of1:10:12.6. Ukraine, with just four spare rounds took the Silver medal, 30.9 seconds back. France with an amazing final leg by Sandrine Bailly took the Bronze, with two penalties and thirteen spare rounds, 1:35.7 back. Bailly was over one minute behind third position in the number eight spot, when she started the final leg. With perfect shooting and unbelievable skiing, she gained on each 2K loop. Leaving the standing stage, she was still in sixth position, 18 seconds behind third. She flew past the surprised Ekaterina Iourieva of Russia in the final 500 meters, pulling over six seconds ahead of the Russian by the finish.
The Barnes sisters handling the first two legs for the US team had one of their best days on the shooting range this season. Tracy needed two spare rounds to clean prone, but dropped the five standing targets in rapid succession. At the tag, the team was 2:17.4 back. Lanny shot fast and clean in both stages. In two stages, the US used only two spare rounds, but was 4:29.5 back at the tag to Johnson. In her relay debut at this level, she had a solid performance, using two spare rounds in prone and only one in standing to shoot clean. By the time Compton took over for the final leg, Germany had lapped the US women. Compton used all three spare rounds to clean prone. In standing, she used the three spare rounds again and picked up a penalty. She crossed the finish line, 7:46.7 back.
The 2008 Biathlon World championships closed with the two competitions today. These Championships were one of the most successful ever and even more successful than the organizers ever dreamed. Over 110, 000 spectators attended the 6 days of competition at the rebuilt Ostersund ski Stadium. The original goal of 70,000 spectators fell yesterday at 9:51 AM, when spectator number 70,001 passed through the gates, according to a press statement. All week, there was a festive atmosphere with cheering crowds, winter activities, beer tents, bands, and stadium entertainment, similar to a central European World Cup. Most importantly, the competitions were fair and thrilling with excellent facilities and services for the teams. Summing up the Championships, US Coach (and Swedish citizen) Mikael Lofgren looked around the stadium earlier in the week, commenting, â€œI cannot believe these crowds. This just is not like Sweden. It is amazing.â€
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.