Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) moved from 45th position at the start of the 12.5K Pursuit competition to finish 29th yesterday.
Burke secured to top 30 finish after a rocky start in the first two prone stages, which are generally crucial to improvement in this competition. Burke had two penalties in the first stage, putting him at a disadvantage and mired in 44th position. He improved, but still had another penalty in the second stage and only moved up one spot. The two standing stages were the key to his sixteen-place improvement at the finish. Cleaning the first standing stage bumped him up to 31st position. In the final stage, he had a single penalty. Leaving the stadium in 30th position, Burke completed the final loop with the 18th fastest time of the day to finish 29th, 3:09.9 behind Emile Hegle Svendsen of Norway, who scored the fifth victory of his young career.
Svendsen, who finished second to Ole Einar BjÃ¶rndalen in Thursday’s Sprint, had two penalties today, on the way to his fifth career victory. BjÃ¶rndalen retained the yellow bib, despite finishing seventh, with five penalties, 52:4 seconds behind his teammate. Like Burke, second place finisher Tomasz Sikora made a big jump today from 19th position to cross the line just 16.8 seconds behind Svendsen. Russian Andrei Makoveev finished third, with three penalties, 23.1 seconds back.
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) finished 54th, with eight penalties, 7:19.4 back.
In the Women’s 10K Pursuit, Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) finished 56th, with nine penalties, 9:17.5 behind Katrin Hitzer of Germany.
Hitzer earned her first-ever World Cup victory with one-penalty shooting. Her time of 33:51.58 was a mere 1.5 seconds ahead of Sandrine Bailly of France. Bailly had two penalties, as did third-place finisher Andrea Henkel of Germany, 26.3 seconds back. Hitzer and Bailly had a classic duel over the final 2K loop. Going into the final stage, Magdalena Neuner was in the lead. Unfortunately, Neuner had four penalties, while Bailly and Hitzer shot clean. Bailly left the shooting range with a five-second advantage, which turned into a 1.5-second deficit by the finish. Bailly and Hitzer both shot clean here and Bailly had a five-second second advantage as they headed onto the final two-km lap. Hitzer commented, â€œI only looked forward on the last lap. When I started doing biathlon I told myself to never look back but always forward.â€
Regarding her first victory, she added, “I didn't expect this at all. I actually felt rather tired. But I have shown all season that I can run with the fastest.â€
The Men’s 15K and Women’s 12.5K Mass Start competitions close the World Cup here on Sunday.
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.