Kontiolahti, FINLAND – IBU World Cup racing resumes here this week following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The U.S. biathletes will compete in three World Cup events this month – Kontiolahti, Finland; Oslo, Norway and Khanty Mansiysk, Russia – before the season is over.
For Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) the goal is clear – to return to the Top 10 in the Overall World Cup standings. “That’s were Tim belongs and we will do everything as a team to achieve that goal,” said U.S. Biathlon’s High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler.
U.S. Biathlon will field a team of three men and two women to compete in Kontiolahti: Burke, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN), Lanny Barnes (Durango, Co.) and Sara Studebaker (Boise, Idaho).
Kontiolahti will mark only the second World Cup start for Nordgren. Coming off a successful 09/10 season start, he placed sixth earlier this month in the European Championships in Otepää, Estonia, and placed fifth in the Pursuit at January’s Junior World Championships in Torsby, Sweden.
“Leif deserves a chance here after showing amazing results at the Junior World Champs and at the European Champs last week. We expect nothing big from him and put absolutely no pressure on him. He should use these competitions to gain more experience”, said Eisenbichler.
Many of the U.S. biathletes look forward to returning to the World Cup circuit following mixed results in Vancouver. “It was definitely a very exciting Olympics. My 23rd was a great result for US Biathlon especially after four really tough years,” said Barnes. “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to race two of the last three World Cups. I had a slow start to the season and it’s just started to pick up a little towards the end. It has been a long season, but I am just as excited and ready to race as I was for the first World Cup back in November. Hopefully we can improve upon our results from the Olympics and see some great performances.”
Racing in Kontiolahti begins Friday, March 12th at 8:15 am (EST) with the Mixed-Relay. While not yet an Olympic discipline, the Mixed-Relay World Championships will be held later this year in Russia. Kontiolahti will be the pre-test for this event. The U.S. Mixed-Relay team will be comprised of Studebaker, Barnes, Bailey and Nordgren.
The U.S. team spent time this week exploring Kontiolahti’s challenging track. “There’s a long uphill before the shooting range and the track itself isn’t easy either. So the athletes have to ski smart and tactical,” explained Eisenbichler.
Kontiolahti World Cup Schedule
|Date||Start Time (EST)||Distance||Discipline||Category|
|12.03.||8:15am||2 x 6 + 2 x 7.5 km||Relay||Mixed|