Ruhpolding, Germany – Still feeling a bit worn from his all out effort in the 5th place relay finish on Thursday Hakkinen knew that good shooting would be a key to a good performance today.
Hakkinen was able to follow his plan and “clean” his targets. “I am very happy with my shooting today,” said a smiling Hakkinen at the finish. “It was a perfect day with no wind.” His shooting times of 34 seconds in prone and 29 seconds in standing are, when taken together, about 15 seconds longer than his usual times, but the deliberate approach worked and he was able to put together his first clean race of the season landing tied for 22nd place with Martin Fourcade of France. With today’s performance he moved up four places to 26th – just one point out of 25th.
The rest of the US team struggled on the range today with four penalties each. “It is not normal but it can happen,” said High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. “They had an off day but they will bounce back for Antholz next week – that course really plays to our boys skiing strengths and they are already looking forward to racing there.”
The winner today was the “king of biathlon” Ole Einar Bjorndalen who, with perfect shooting and a winning margin of over 33 seconds, showed that he has recovered from his illness earlier in the season. While “the king” will start with a big advantage in the 12.5 km Pursuit competition on Sunday, it gets very tight after that. Hakkinen, who is starting 22nd, just 30 seconds out of eighth place, is in the middle of a pack of 30 athletes all starting within a single minute. The race will be streamed online live Sunday at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. Click on the “Watch us live on the web” link just above the news News section at www.USBiathlon.org