Today was the second race of the IBU World Cup weekend in Hochfilzen, Austria. The 12.5 km pursuit finish came down to a sprint finish, as Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR), Simon Eder of (AUT), and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) entered the stadium together and traded leads several times before the finish line. Bjoerndalen, who missed 2 targets in the third stage for a total of 3 penalties was still able to stay competitive with Svendsen and Eder, who only had one penalty each. The three raced together for the entire finishing lap, providing a yo-yo match for the fans. It was Bjoerndalen who was leading in the final sprint 100 meters to the finish, before being passed by both competitors. Svendsen crossed the line first, 1.6 before Eder and another 1.5 seconds up on Bjoerndalen. Usually very consistent in the range, Bjoerndalen was the only competitor in the top eight to miss three shots.
Tim Burke of the U.S., continuing to prove that he will be a top competitor on the world stage this year, had a very solid finish today in 10th place, with one penalty in the second stage and one in the fourth stage. He was 54.6 seconds back. Teammate Jay Hakkinen, with 5 penalties, finished 50th.
In the women’s 10km pursuit Helena Jonsson (NOR) cruised to victory with only one penalty and a 31.7 second lead over Svetlana Sleptsova of Russia. Svetlana and teammate Olga Zaiseva, who took third place, both had 2 penalties.
Canadian Zina Kocher, who had her best World Cup finish at Fridays sprint race (19th), again had a strong showing. Changing and variable winds made shooting difficult, and Kocher took 5 penalties in 4 rounds but still managed to secure a 21st place finish. These two races are a releif after an unfavorable weekend of opening races in Sweden.
“I am happy with the progress I have made this week and I do feel like I’m on track,” said Kocher. “I need to continue to focus on my ski speed, work on that shooting, and really bring it together.”
There were no U.S. biathletes in the women’s race today.