Hochfilzen, Tirol, Austria, December 14. The US Relay team of Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) finished 15th in the World Cup Relay here.
The US men, with four penalties and eighteen extra rounds finished 6:00.3 behind the Russian team with one penalty and nine extra rounds. The Russian time of 1:24:22.9 easily outdistanced hometown favorite Austria by 1:41.1. The Ukrainian team finished third, 2:38.5 back.
The US team struggled on the shooting range from the outset when Teela picked up a penalty in the standing stage, after using all three spare rounds. Running second, Jay Hakkinen brought the US back into contention with two clean stages and a strong skiing performance. Tim Burke in only his second competition of the season got through the prone stage unscathed, but added a penalty in standing. Anchor leg Currier had one penalty in each stage, before crossing the finish line in 15th place out of 23 teams.
Canada's Jean-Philippe LeGuellec capped off the week of his life on the World Cup by leading his countrymen to the best finish ever for a Canadian Biathlon Team.
Coming off his best-ever World Cup result, an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s pursuit competition, the 23-year-old LeGuellec, of Shannon, Que., along with Ottawa’s Robin Clegg, Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T, and Regina’s Scott Perras, combined to post the best World Cup relay finish ever by a Canadian men’s team after clocking a combined time of one hour 27 minutes 47.17 seconds.
â€œThis was a hell of a way to end a week,â€ said a thrilled LeGuellec from his hotel room in Austria. â€œIt is really satisfying to know we are all capable of competing with the world’s best athletes.â€
Riding on fast skis and a hot hand on the range, LeGuellec anchored the four-man squad that was led off by 10-year national team veteran Robin Clegg. The two-time Olympian skied the opening leg amongst the leaders despite missing four shots in his two trips to the range, and then tagged off to Scott Perras before the Canadian duo spent the final half of the race running the course cheering on their teammates.
While the opening two legs were strong, it was the performance by Brendan Green that was nothing short of remarkable. Green received the last-minute call to join up with the team from the IBU Cup, which was competing in Obertilliach, Austria. Having to deal with a closed highway due to avalanche danger, the 22-year-old arrived to Hochfilzen late last night, and was nearly perfect in his World Cup debut.
â€œBrendan did an absolutely incredible job out there in his first World Cup race,â€ said the 31-year-old Clegg, whose eighth-place finish one year ago in Slovenia was matched by LeGuellec this week as the best ever performance by a Canadian male. â€œThis has been a long-time coming for our team. For many years I was competing out here by myself and we went years without racing a relay. Seeing the entire performance by this team is exciting. All of the guys were clutch today and you couldn’t ask for anything more.â€
Canada’s best relay finish prior to Sunday was a 13th-place result last year at the same event in Austria.
In the Women’s 4 X 6K Relay, the US women had a better day on the shooting range, but finished 16th in a field of 20 teams. The US team, with three penalties and eleven spare rounds, finished 9:12.2 behind Russia’s winning effort of 1:10:49.5. The Russian women, with no penalties and only six spare rounds, dominated the field, as had their male counterparts, outdistancing Norway
Obertilliach, Austria IBU Cup
Despite heavy snows over the past three days, the Obertilliach IBU Cup went on as scheduled Saturday and Sunday. Conditions were good under the circumstances. Travel remained limited with the roads into Obertilliach remaining closed when the competition started at 10 AM. They finally opened to the outside world around noon. Although it was not snowing, the sun was non-existent and temperatures stayed near freezing all morning for the Men’s 20K Individual competition.
Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN) and Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN), members of the National Junior team represented the US. For both, the Saturday competition was the first 20K of their careers. Nordgren finished 43rd with four prone penalties, 8:06.1 behind Norway’s Lars Berger with three penalties, who won in 58:41.5. Roberts struggled on the shooting range, picking up eight penalties to finish 78th, 12:18 back.
For Sunday’s 10K Sprint, the snow returned, according to US Junior National Coach Vladimir Cervenka. This slowed the tracks considerably for all of the competitors. Today Roberts finished 66th with three penalties, 3:22.4 back, while Nordgren, with the same shooting was 79th, 4:06.4 back. Cervenka said these two competitions were tough for his young athletes. â€œThe conditions were hard yesterday and today. Leif was definitely tired today. Wynn felt a little better. They both made a few mistakes and we discussed them after the race. These races are training and learning experiences for them. We are pointing to the World Junior Championships at the end of January in Canada.â€
The tracks stayed in good condition except for some of the corners where the snow was deep and soft. These challenging corners resulted in numerous falls, including Wynn Roberts who crashed so hard that his glasses shattered.
The Sprints in Obertilliach and the Relays in Hochfilzen conclude competition for this week. World Cup action resumes Thursday here in Hochfilzen with Individual competitions while the IBU Cup moves to Martell-Val Martello, Italy for a Sprint/Pursuit format beginning on Friday.
Watch live results and streaming video of all competitions at www.biathlonworld.com.
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