OBERHOF, Germany – Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) continued to make biathlon history today finishing in second place in the Mass Start World Cup event in Oberhof – the first ever Mass Start medal for a U.S. athlete – and resuming the top spot as Overall Leader in IBU World Cup standings.
Burke finished today’s race at 40:00.2, 1:02.9 behind biathlon king Ole Einar Bjoerndalen’s (NOR) winning time of 38:57.3 . Strong winds and dense fog set the stage for another challenging race today, especially at the shooting range, but Burke remained steady and ranked among the three best shooting results in the men’s race.
“The real advantage I had here was the fact that I trained in exactly that (wind and fog) during the last three weeks”, Burke explained after the race. After the Pokljuka World Cup, Burke stayed with his girlfriend, German biathlete Andrea Henkel, in Oberhof to use the training facilities to prepare for the World Cup. “I had fog quite a few days here in the last weeks. In the beginning I could not deal with it at all. It’s a different sight-picture when you look at the targets. Because of the fog everything is dark so you cannot truly see where the targets are. You have to rely on your instincts.”
With just two misses in today’s competition, Burke’s training strategy paid off. “I really have to congratulate him. He did such an amazing and thoughtful job today, it’s simply incredible. He took his time at the shooting range and made some well educated decisions while shooting with the fog being so unpredictable,” said U.S. Biathlon Shooting Coach Armin Auchentaller.
Burke was also strategic with his skiing, “I always tried to cruise in groups because like that I did not have to work too hard. In mass start it’s always a lot of tactics”, Burke said. “In the end I was feeling so good on the course that I was ready to fight out at the end. But I am also glad that I did not have to fight so I could enjoy what was the most fun last loop I ever had with thousands of spectators cheering me. Simply amazing!”
Next stop for Burke is the Ruhpolding World Cup, where he will arrive wearing yellow leader’s bib again. “I am especially happy to be able to wear the bib in Ruhpolding. Almost all our staff is from that area and they did so much for me that I really hope they will be proud of me starting there with the bib of the overall leader,” said Burke.
Before heading to Ruhpolding, Burke will take a day off to celebrate with Henkel who won today’s women’s Mass Start. “It’s an exciting day for both of us, and we will reward ourselves with sleeping in tomorrow and a good old fashioned American breakfast with pancakes.”