Halfway through the 15k mass start biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, things were going well for Tim Burke. Having hit all ten targets he’d fired upon, Burke was sitting in tenth and poised to move up, just 15 seconds behind the leader.
Then things started going downhill. In the first standing stage, Burke missed two of five shots, and then missed another in the final stage, dropping him out of the top fifteen. By the end of the race, Sweden’s Bjorn Ferry caught him in a photo finish to relegate the American down to 19th place.
Afterwards, Burke told U.S. Biathlon that he was moving on to tomorrow’s relay. “Of course I am not satisfied with my first standing shooting, and those two mistakes, but things like that happen,” he said. “I have to put it behind me.”
Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendson won the race with clean shooting, finishing five seconds up on Evgeny Ustyugov, a Russian who had one penalty. Austria’s Simon Eder was another five seconds back, also with one penalty.
Canadian Jean-Philippe Leguellec was 22nd, with one penalty. Only the thirty top-ranked biathletes can compete in the mass start, so Burke and Leguellec were the only North American competitors. Svendsen’s win vaulted him past Burke on the World Cup overall points list, pushing the American back one spot into fourth. Burke now has 361 points—seven behind third-placed Simon Fourcade (FRA) and 51 behind top-ranked Ustyugov.
While the Norwegians skipped the third World Cup weekend in Slovenia, Burke has opted to race every event this year. So far, it hasn’t hurt him, as his course time was exactly as fast as the winner’s.
The American men will start tomorrow’s 4×7.5k relay, with Lowell Bailey, Jay Hakkinen, and Jeremy Teela composing the rest of the four-man team. After the relay, the World Cup moves on to Antholz, Italy, for its final stop before the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.