OBERHOF, Germany – Although being three hundred kilometers apart, today’s Sprint races in Oberhof and Altenberg both took place amid strong winds, dense fog and snow making the competition especially challenging for the U.S. biathletes.
“Seriously? Today was the windiest race I ever did!”, said Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) following his19th place finish in the World Cup Sprint in Oberhof. Burke started the race wearing the World Cup leader’s yellow bib. After today’s race, Burke sits in second place in the Overall rankings, eight points behind the new leader and Sprint winner Evgeny Ustyugovf (RUS). However, it was Jeremy Teela (Heber City, UT) scoring the best U.S. result today.
Teela, who scored his best result last year with a third place in the World Cup in Whistler, presented one of the stronger shootings at the range today with just three misses. “The conditions were just not fair, I’d call it Las Vegas style lottery. Neither your shooting, nor your skiing skills decide if you win the race; it was the wind that decided that,” said Teela after the race. Nevertheless, Teela was happy with his lottery outcome as his 18th place marks his season best. “I am still not quite where I wanted to be, as I feel that I can ski much faster, but there’s still a chance to move up step by step until the Olympics.”
Burke laughed about Teela’s Las Vegas analogy. “One thing is for sure, that’s the most correct thing I’ve ever heard. I looked up in prone to see where the wind came from, but I didn’t have a chance to figure that out. I had no idea where my shots went,” said Burke.
“Today was perhaps the stormiest world cup in a generation” said U.S. Biathlon executive director Max Cobb, “with gale force winds gusting up to fifty miles per hour. I’m really proud of both Jeremy and Tim for holding it together and not giving up out there despite their penalties. Burke had the sixth best ski time, 31.9 off the winner and just 1.9 seconds off Germany’s top man Michael Greis, who was second today. This shows Tim is still in very good shape and able to keep up the fight for the yellow bib.”
As one of the first starters today Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) was a victim of the weather lottery at the shooting range. With six misses overall he finished in 64th with 3:12.4 minutes behind the victor. “I can’t be mad at myself today. The conditions were just not normal and I know that I can shoot better than that. Races like that do not happen too often, so we just have to deal with it and get over it. I’m okay with the result, because I know I am in good shape and will be back if there are normal conditions again,” said Hakkinen.
At yesterday’s World Cup Sprint, Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) faced similar windy conditions. Johnson finished the race in 61st place with four misses overall. “It was a really hard race and not fair at all. But conditions like that won’t return every day so I am positive to score some better results in Ruhpolding next week,”said Johnson.
Racing in Oberhof continues tomorrow with the women’s and men’s Mass Start events starting at 5am and 7:20 am (EST), respectively. Burke, the only starter for the U.S., will be in bib number 2 as the second ranked biathlete in the world. Watch World Cup racing live online at http://tiny.cc/u96nv. Please visit www.biathlonworld3.de/en/ for a complete list of today’s race results.