Antholz, Italy – Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) continued his rise back to top form Saturday as he moved from 15th position at the start to finish 11th in the final World Cup Pursuit competition before the Biathlon World Championships in February.
According to US Biathlon Development Coach James Upham, “Tim is back. This is a course that suits him very well and that showed. He is skiing very fast again (with the sixth fastest course time).”
Burke, with three penalties (on each in the final three stages) finished 1:11.9 behind Bjorn Ferry of Sweden who won in 33:19.4. Ferry had one penalty while second place finisher Simon Eder of Austria shot clean, 17.6 seconds back. Wearing the yellow bib of Overall World Cup leader, Emile Hegle Svendsen of Norway finished 24.7 seconds back with three penalties.
Eder was the big story of the top three, as he shot perfectly and was on the podium at the same venue where his father won medals twice in the 1983 and 1986 World Championships. In comments to Biathlonworld.com, Eder spoke about his big day, “I felt great today, and even the zeroing was good. I also firmly believed that I would be able to shoot flawlessly in all four sessions. In the final session, I knew that I was the strongest shooter. But the pressure sure was quite enormous.”
He continued, “The last lap was at the same time the worst and the best in my life. It is quite unnerving to have a Svendsen running behind you. The feeling I had when I crossed the finishing line – I really cannot put it into words. It’s the nicest achievement in my career.”
Burke was just as big a story. The top ranked US biathlete has continued to get stronger with each competition this month, and is rounding into top form as the February Championships approach. He finished in 15th place in Friday’s 10K Sprint. Upham further commented on Burke’s performance, “Tim really fought [Saturday] on the shooting range to hit the targets. He had to reset his position on each stage. None of them was just perfect, but it shows his talent and ability as he adjusted well each time. His skiing was super. He was able to utilize a lot of the technique work we worked on last fall and threw in a couple of new tricks. This race was great for his confidence and his Vancouver (World Cup in March and Olympic Games in 2010) preparations, as the courses are similar, but with no altitude in Vancouver.”
Burke and his US Biathlon teammates will begin preparations next week for the Biathlon World Championships, which start on February 14 in Pyeong Chang, Korea.