Pyeong Chang, Korea – Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) missed two shots in his final stage of shooting and finished 14th in this afternoon’s 20K Individual competition at the Biathlon World Championships.
Going into the final shooting stage, Burke was in sixth place. “I am so nervous, I cannot look” said coach Per Nilsson who knew that clean shooting would put Burke on the podium. But the third and fifth targets did not fall and though Burke skied well in the final 4 km before the finish there was no way to make up for the two minutes of penalty time from his misses, finishing 14th, 1:57.9 behind Ole Einar Björndalen of Norway, who won his third Championship of the week and a record 13th Biathlon World Championship. Second went to Christoph Stephan of Germany, with one penalty, 14.1 seconds back. Surprising with a Bronze medal was 21-year-old Jakov Fak of Croatia, with one penalty, 17.1 seconds back.
At the finish, Burke was frustrated, but optimistic. “I feel like a guy climbing a ladder and when I get to the top, I keep missing the final rung. If I would have missed a shot in the first stage and then two more in the second stage, instead of two in the final stage, I would feel much better. However, I know that I am going to hit those someday and get the big result. I am skiing well now, so it will happen. And, I have two more chances this week, in the Mass Start and the Relay.”
Burke’s teammate, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) matched his result from the Pursuit competition, with another 22nd place finish. He finished 2:38.3 back with two penalties. Bailey actually surprised himself. “I woke up this morning with stomach cramps. During the second loop today, I was thinking about stopping, especially if I shot poorly. Then I thought that this is World Championships and I came here to race and hung in. I felt terrible skiing all day. Every time I came into shoot, I just wanted to lie down on the mat and go to sleep. All that said, I am not complaining, I am happy with my race. I just wish I felt better today.” Later Bailey became even happier, when the start list for the 15 km Mass Start was announced – a race that includes only the top 30 athletes from the World Championships. Bailey scored bib 30!! That will give him another chance in a four stage shooting race.
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) had one of his best days of the season today finishing 44th, with four penalties, 4:20.4 back.
The Women’s 15K Individual, the next competition, is scheduled for Wednesday, starting at 18:15 local time (4:15 AM EST). Starting for the US Team are the following athletes: Carolyn Bramante (Duluth, MN), Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), and Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY).
A complete schedule of events is below and you can watch full length replays of the races by clicking on the WATCH US LIVE ON THE WEB link at www.usbiathlon.org