RUHPOLDING, Germany – The first U.S. women’s relay of the 2009-2010 season turned out to be a good test event for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The Swedish women took their first ever victory in today’s relay ahead of Russia and Norway. Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID), Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY), Laura Spector (Lenox, MA) and Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) finished 19th following some challenges on the track and shooting range.
“I think despite the result the ladies showed today that we could finish in the Top 10 in Whistler,” said Max Cobb, USBA’s executive director. “Today they experienced some difficulties, but I am sure they can learn from that.”
Studebaker had an impressive start with just two extra shots at the range. “I felt really good today and I was so excited to race, “ said Studebaker. “Although I got in a small accident with one Italian girl on an uphill and fell down, I liked my skiing. It was also nice to have tens of thousands of spectators around cheering for me. That was incredible!”
Studebaker handed off to Johnson ranking in 12th place. The transition wasn’t the easiest as Johnson explained later. “The referee was just yelling ‘Hey’ all the time and I had no idea if he meant me and if I did something wrong. So I was really confused and didn’t know if I was allowed to start or if we did something wrong at the exchange,” said Johnson. After the mishap Johnson struggled on the track, feeling fatigued after five World Cups. “I hope it will get better before Vancouver, but my body is really tired right now!”
Spector skied two penalty loops, one each following her prone and standing shootings, but took it as a lesson for the relay in Vancouver. “Although it didn’t bother me in the sprint today, I really heard the crowd and let myself get too distracted by all the cheering,” said Spector. “ I wanted to go so fast that I completely forget to pace to feel safer at the shooting range. I’ll take it as a lesson. I can’t be too hard on myself for those mistakes!”
Barnes skied the final leg and secured the team’s 19th place finish with the fourth best shooting time of the final round of athletes.
World Cup racing continues tomorrow from Ruhpolding with Tim Burke (Lake Placid, NY) racing in the men’s Mass Start at 9:15 a.m. (EST). Burke is currently ranked 3rd in overall World Cup standings. Watch racing live online athttp://tiny.cc/u96nv. Please visit www.biathlonworld3.de/en/ for a complete list of race results.
IBU World Cup Schedule – Ruhpolding, Germany (all times EST):
DATE START DISTANCE DISCIPLINE CATEGORY
1/16 9:15 a.m. 15 km Mass Start Men
1/16 11:10 a.m. 12.5 km Mass Start Women
1/17 9:15 a.m. 4 x 7.5 km Relay Men