Burke and Kocher Repeat as FasterSkier Biathletes of the Year

FasterSkierApril 21, 2010

Biathlete of the Year

In any normal year, this award would be as straightforward as they come.  On the men’s side, Tim Burke (USA) is head and shoulders above the North American field.  And despite inconsistent performances, Zina Kocher is the only woman who can threaten to crack the top-20.

But this was an Olympic year, and Olympic results count more than World Cup or World Championship races – at least to the public.  Neither Burke nor Kocher stepped up at the Games, while Jean Phillippe LeGuellec (USA) entertained the home crowd with impressive racing and a great attitude.

And so the decision was not easy.  How much should the Olympics count?  Do 3 or 4 great races on the biggest stage take precedence over a season’s worth of top caliber racing?

Biathlete of the Year (men):

Tim Burke (USA).  Burke started the 2010 season with a bang, placing 2nd in the first World Cup race of the year in Sweden.  He followed that up several days later with a 3rd.

Burke has been knocking on the World Cup podium door for several years, and finally broke through in a big way.  He continued to race well, placing 10th in his next start, and placing in the top-20 in each of his first ten races, including seven top-10’s.

He was back on the podium in early January, placing 2nd yet again, this time in Oberhof, Germany.  At one point, he even took over the overall World Cup lead.

Entering the Olympics as a strong medal contender, Burke faltered in a big way at Whistler Olympic Park.  A victim of a mid-race snowstorm, the first two races were a wash and he left Canada cracking the top-40 just once.  Uncharacteristically poor shooting led to his downfall.

He finished the season with some strong performances – 5 of 7 races in the top-25, including an 11th in the season finale.  Despite the Olympic disaster, Burke is one of the top biathletes in the World.  He finished the season ranked 14th in the overall World Cup standings, and his three podium finishes was unprecedented.

With the award, Burke has now won all three FasterSkier Biathlete of the Year Awards.

Tim Burke on the World Cup podium (Photo: U.S. Biathlon)

Honorable Mention

Jean Philippe LeGuellec (CAN).  LeGuellec bounced all over the result sheet this winter, with results ranging from 10th to 124th.  Like Burke, he started the season well, placing 10th and 12th in the first two World Cup events.  He ultimately cracked the top-25 ten times over the course of the season, but saved his best racing for the Olympics.

Finishing before the snow that wrecked havoc on the field, LeGuellec took 6th in the opening event of the Games – the sprint.  He followed that up with an 11th in the pursuit, impressively shrugging off a starters error that had him starting too soon, and resulted in a midrace time adjustment.

He kept his streak going with a 13th in the individual, before struggling in the mass start event, placing at the back of the field.  Not only did LeGuellec race well, he did it with style, saluting the fans, and seemingly enjoying every minute of his Olympic experience.  He finished the season ranked 30th in the world.

LeGuellec waves to the fans at the Olympics.

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Biathlete of the Year (women)

Zina Kocher (CAN).  Kocher had her best season since 2007, ranking 31st in the overall World Cup.  She finished in the top-25 ten times, and the top-15 four times.  The high point came in December in Pokljuka, Slovenia, where she placed 4th in the pursuit.

Like Burke she is a repeat winner of this award, capturing the title last year, and also like Burke, she struggled at the Olympics, finishing 65th and 72nd in her two starts.

Zina Kocher (CAN) racing at the Olympics.

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Previous Winners

Tim Burke (USA)
Zina Kocher (CAN)

Tim Burke (USA)
Caitlin Compton (USA)

Award Schedule:

Thursday, April 15 – Rookie of the Year
Friday, April 16 – Collegiate Skier of the Year
Monday, April 19 – Adaptive Skier of the Year
Tuesday, April 20 – Continental Skier of the Year
Wednesday, April 21 – Biathlete of the Year
Thursday, April 22 – Nordic Combined Skier of the Year
Friday, April 23 – Performance of the Year (cross-country, biathlon, nordic combined)
Monday, April 26th – Cross-Country Skier of the Year

FasterSkier Awards 2010


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