Athletic and Financial Improvements Highlight USBA Board Meeting
Improvements in both competition and lab testing highlighted a report to the U.S. Bialthlon Associations fall board of directors meeting.
According to Bernd Eisenbichler, the teams high performance director, USBA athletes have shown gains in one of the two areas. He also said he plans to continue efforts to integrate the U.S. Biathlon Team at all levels (World Cup, development, and junior).
Piotr Bednarski, director of athlete development, reported that four new athletes have joined the development team, based at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, while another six will form the new collegiate team.
"Our main objective is to support our World Cup team and their drive for an Olympic medal," Bednarski said. "But, at the same time, we need to develop a new generation of athletes that will keep our sport growing."
Bednarski and Max Cobb, USBA executive director, singled out
Anchorage, Alaska, as an example of a successful regional program. Cobb commented, "The work being done on the venue in Kincaid Park is really spectacular," Cobb said. "Rachel Steer and the Alaska biathlon community have brought together an excellent group of designers and construction people to make this a world-class facility in a great location."
The board also heard of an increase in fundraising, with the annual golf fundraiser earning $47,000, compared to $31,000 last year. In addition, the USBA is selling a full-color calendar and kicking off a "Gold Medal" program in October. The Gold Medal program earned $25,000 last year. The funds support athletes training for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Burke Leads US Biathlon in Sprint, Pursuit
Tim Burke won the mens spring and was fourth in the pursuit races at an international competition in Ostersund, Sweden. The U.S. Biathlon team is competing on roller skis against national teams from Sweden, Norway, Great Britain and other countries.
Burke won the 9.3 km roller ski biathlon sprint on Saturday, with teammate Lowell Bailey finishing third. Burke had two prone penalties and one in standing, winning in 23:31.7. Second in todays competition was Jakob Borjesson of Sweden finished second, 2.5 seconds back. Bailey was just 9.8 seconds off the lead.
In other U.S. team results, Jeremy Teela placed 11th and Jay Hakkinen was 12th.
Lanny Barnes led the U.S. womens team with a ninth place, finishing 2:25 back from winner Tora Berger of Norway. Tracy Barnes was 14th.
On Sunday, Tim Burke took a fourth place in the 13 km pursuit, with Jeremy Teela taking fifth. Lowell Baily took eigth place in the event, while Jay Hakkinen was 13th. David Eckholm of Sweden won the pursuit.
Teela, ninth going into the final standing stage, recorded the highlight-reel moment by overtaking Swedens Mattias Nilsson in the final 300 meters to earn a fifth place finish.
Coming to the final 300 meters before the finish, Teela was just a meter behind Nilsson. He described the finish, "I did not feel fast enough to pass him on the flat section, just before we went behind the range. The tracks are pretty narrow there, so when he was still in a tuck after the downhill, I surprised him by easing by him really close. He could not react without going off the track or stepping on my ski. It was an extremely close pass; almost too close. Then as we started up the hill, I put my head down and pulled away. I am feeling stronger and better with each race here, so this was a good ending for me."
The U.S. biathletes now head to Torsby in southern Sweden for the final portion of their European training camp. For the final days, they will be skiing indoors at the Fortum Ski tunnel before heading home the end of the month.
U.S. Biathlon Skier Third in Roller Ski Race
Lowell Bailey gave the U.S. Biathlon Team a spot on the podium with a third place finish in the Mens 12.4 kilometer roller ski cross-country race on Friday, August 24.
Swedens David Eckholm edged Bailey for second place by 1.7 seconds. Mattias Nilsson of Sweden won the competition in 26:04.2, with Eckholm 16.9 seconds back and Bailey 18.6 seconds back.
According to Per Nilsson, head coach for U.S. Biathlon, the competitions are, "an important part of our training plan."
Bailey skied aggressively for each of the 3.1 km loops. He started 30 seconds behind Mattias Simmen of Switzerland, gaining time on each loop, then erasing the start gap in the final loop. The two crossed the finish line six-tenths of a second apart.
"I was trying a lot of new technique today," Bailey said, "especially the low skating technique and it felt good. The course was fun, but with these roller skis, [all competitors used the same model provided by the organizers]it was super fast; faster than we have been training."
Baileys teammates, Jeremy Teela and Jay Hakkinen, placed 10th and 17th, respectively.
In the womens 7.8 km, Lanny Barnes finished eighth, 2:02.9 behind winner Sofia Domeij of Sweden.
Biathlon Team Faces Top Competition
The U.S. Biathlon team, at a month-long training camp in Ostersund, Sweden, will hold three rollerski competitions, beginning August 24.
The team will participate in a cross country race on Friday evening (August 24), followed by a biathlon sprint on Saturday and a biathlon pursuit on Sunday.
The competitions come in the middle of a training camp, which began in coach Per Nilssons hometown of Solleftea. With the competitions, the camp shifts to Ostersund for physical testing, long distance workouts and shooting drills at the World Championship facility.
"We trained very hard before we came here (Ostersund)," Nilsson said, "and we will not do anything special to prepare for the competitions, in terms of extra preparation or rest. With all of our good training so far this season, we hope to see some improvements over our results last year."
Tim Burke, who ended last season ranked 25th in the overall World Cup, looks forward to the competitions this week.
"This is a great way to evaluate your training at this stage of the season. This weekend has been marked on my calendar for along time. Unfortunately, I caught a cold earlier this week, so the results may not be what I hoped for earlier. Nevertheless, it will be fun and I will just see how things go."
Coach Mikael Lofgren added, "It is really important for the athletes to have real competition here. Until now, we have only competed amongst ourselves. It will be good to see how we have progressed."
The real competition includes some of the best biathletes on the World Cup circuit, including Sweden, led by Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Carin Olofsson, and Norways strong womens team. Switzerland, Great Britain and Finland will also send teams, with over 130 competitors expected.
After the weekend of competitions, the US athletes will move on to Lofgrens hometown, Torsby, Sweden, to complete the final leg of this training camp. In Torsby, the team will use the indoor ski tunnel to train on snow.
Summer Biathlon National Championships Open in Fort Kent
The Summer Biathlon National Championships/ World Team Trials open July 12 at the 10th Mountain Ski Center in Fort Kent, Maine. The event is conducted by the 10th Mountain Ski Club and the Maine Winter Sports Center starts.
Entrants include former U.S. team members Doug Hoover and Keith Woodward, as well as local competitors Nate Rogers and Hilary McNamee, both of whom have competed in the world Youth and Junior Biathlon World Championships. Woodward is one of the most experienced summer biathlon competitors in the U.S., having competed in the first U.S. championships in 1987 and winning several national titles.
Competitors from five states and Ontario will participate in the running and rifle marksmanship competitions. The schedule includes a sprint competition, pursuits and mass starts. Athletes who meet the qualifying standards for the U.S. team will be offered the opportunity to compete in the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Otepaa, Estonia in September.
Community events will include a paintball biathlon, with short running distances and shooting targets with a paintball gun. A golf cart biathlon will have teams of two cover 1.5 kilometers in a golf cart, followed by a shooting bout.
For more information, contact the United States Biathlon Association, the national governing body for the sport.
Rollerski Biathlon Wraps Up Training Camp
Several members of the U.S. Biathlon Team recorded personal bests at a precision shooting test and rollerski biathlon competition at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, VT, on July 7.
The competition was the culmination of a two-week training session involving the national and development teams in Lake Placid, NY, led by coaches Mikael Lofgren, Per Nilsson and James Upham.
"We are happy with the improvements in conditioning and shooting that the athletes have made in recent weeks," Nilsson said. "We told the team to try to get personal bests today in the shooting tests and several did, so that is encouraging."
In the 30 prone/30 standing competition, Jeremy Teela prevailed over Kevin Patzoldt, with a personal best of 512 to Patzoldts 502. Teelas near-perfect standing shooting included four of five center shots in the same hole.
Tracy Barnes topped her sister, Lanny, with a score of 493 to 480. Tracy also held the edge over her sister in both the 4 x 5-shot (10 prone/10 standing) and the 20 times, one shot, tests. The twins topped all of the men in the test, as Tracy shot clean in 7:02 while Lanny had one penalty, finishing in an adjusted 7:09. Lowell Bailey was the top male, with one penalty, in 8:04, followed by Tim Burke, with one penalty in 8:04.
Patzoldt and Burke each had one penalty in the 4 x 5 shot test, but Patzoldt edged Burke by three seconds on time, 1:59 to 2;02.
A steady rain made for slippery conditions during the womens 12.5 kilometer and mens 15 kilometer rollerski biathlon competition. Eleven men and seven women from the national and development teams, as well as the National Guard team, competed over the hilly Ethan Allen rollerski tracks.
In the mens competition, Tim Burke edged Lowell Bailey 46:29 to 46:34, with both recording four penalties. Kevin Patzoldt finished third, with five penalties, in 51:16. National junior team athlete Russell Currier, with nine penalties in 54:30, tied for fourth with Jesse Downs of the National Guard.
The top three women in the 12.5 km outshot all of the men. Tracy Barnes was near perfect on the shooting range, with a single penalty coming in the first prone stage. She won in 38:14, despite crashing to the pavement less than two feet before the finish. Barnes came away unscathed, but a bit embarrassed by her fall.
Lanny Barnes and Denise Teela both finished with three penalties, but Barnes finished second in 40:22 to Teelas 42:42. Beth Ann Chamberlain finished fourth with nine penalties in 49:40. Cross country skiing standout Caitlin Compton, in her first biathlon competition, finished sixth, with nine penalties in 50:30. She enthusiastically endorsed her new sport with a comment of, "I am hooked!" at the finish.
U.S. Biathlon Team Opens Lake Placid Camp
The U.S. biathlon team kicks off its new season with a training camp June 27. The camp, which runs through July 7, takes place at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.
Participating athletes include national team members Jeremy and Denise Teela, Lanny and Tracy Barnes, Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey and development team member Caitlin Compton. Compton, one the top cross country skiers in the U.S., began training for biathlon full-time this season with national development coach James Upham, who supervises the resident biathlon program at Lake Placid facility.
U.S. coaches Per Nilsson and Mikael Lofgren will supervise strength and flexibility work, including roller skiing and running, as well as extensive work on the shooting range. The camp concludes with shooting accuracy tests and time trials at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont, on July 7.
The United States Biathlon Association is the national governing body for the sport in the U.S.
Bernd Eisenbichler Named High Performance Director for U.S. Biathlon
Bernd Eisenbichler of Munich, Germany has been named High Performance Director for the U.S. Biathlon Association. As High Performance Director, Eisenbichler will be responsible for the implementation of the national team program, while improving the level of organization, professionalism and success in the Europa Cup, Junior and Development programs. He commented, “I want to see all of our competitive programs operating under the same philosophy of success that the new staff has instituted for the national team program. At the same time, we will continue to add more specialist consultants to our support staff, like nutritionist Robert Gorgos and sports medicine specialist Dr. Andreas Kreutz, who began working with the national team during the past season.”
Eisenbichler brings an extensive background in biathlon and Nordic sports to his position. He became the Head Wax Technician for the U.S. Biathlon Team in 1999 and is recognized as one of the best and most respected in the sport. Since that time, U.S. biathletes such as Jay Hakkinen, Tim Burke, Rachel Steer and Jeremy Teela have benefited from his expertise while posting some of the best international results in U.S. history. Besides the U.S. team, he also is the personal wax technician for World and Olympic champions Ricco Gross and Kati Wilhelm. Prior to working in biathlon, the 31-year-old Eisenbichler was German cross country champion at the kids, youth and junior levels and competed internationally for the German military. He graduated from the University of Munich in 2003, with an education degree, specializing in history and German.
Eisenbichler will continue his duties as Head Wax Technician, which will keep him in close contact with the athletes and coaching staff, while monitoring performances. “My goals as High Performance Director include seeing all four of our men in the top 15 at World Cups, as well as winning both an individual and relay medal at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010.”
In his first days on the job this week, Eisenbichler and U.S. Biathlon Executive Director Max Cobb met with U.S. Olympic Committee staff in Colorado Springs, evaluating U.S. Biathlon’s progress this year and exploring further opportunities for cooperation between the USBA and the USOC. Discussing Eisenbichler’s new position, Cobb remarked, “With Bernd moving into this position, our full-time staff is now complete. This caps what has been a remarkable and productive transition year for the Association, and puts us on a course for success in Vancouver.”
The United States Biathlon Association is the National Governing Body for the sport of Biathlon in the United States, as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Biathlon Union. The U.S. Biathlon Association supports the U.S. Biathlon Team and development of the sport on all levels within the United States.
March 14, 2007
U.S. BIATHLON TEAM SEASON DIGEST
••••••U.S. Men in Russia for World Cup Final•••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) heads a contingent of four U.S. biathletes who will compete in the World Cup Final starting Thursday, March 8. Burke, currently ranked 23rd in the Overall World Cup Standings, is looking to close his season with some more good results. Sunday, March 11 after his 22nd place in the Mass Start in Oslo, he spoke optimistically, “I am looking forward to the final three races next week in Khanty Mansiysk. I feel like I have some more good races left in me.”
On March 15, Burke, and teammates Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) compete in the 10K Sprint. This is the final Sprint of the season, with the U.S. men hoping to gain enough Nations cup points to overtake Ukraine and Italy in the battle for a top 8 finish for the season. The U.S. men are currently in 10th place. The top 60 in the Sprint will qualify for Saturday’s Pursuit. The week closes with Sunday’s Mass Start competitions. Burke has enough World Cup Points that he should make the Mass Start Field. Should he make the Mass Start field, he will become the first U.S. biathlete to compete in every Mass Start during a single season.
The World Cup Final in east central Siberia is not just another World Cup. For most of the season, the “traveling circus” of about 250 athletes, and an equal number of coaches and staff, travels across central Europe with ease. Most venues are only hours apart, so each Sunday night, teams pack the vans with ski and travel bags, rifles and anything necessary to surviving months on the road and set off for the next spot on the schedule. At times, especially when going to Scandinavia, the athletes and coaches fly while staff drives the 30 hours or so to the northern reaches of the Biathlon world.
The trip to Khanty Mansiysk is another story. First virtually everyone needs a visa, which involves paperwork, waiting for hours (and sometimes, making several trips) at a Russian Embassy on an off day in a foreign capital. Then the packing “light” for the trip to Siberia on special charter flights (four this year); teams only take what is necessary to get through the week as excess baggage charges can spoil a season’s budget. This year, all skis, and heavy gear went to Oslo airport on Sunday evening; busses for the charter flight left the US team hotel at 6 AM for a 9:30 flight. Once at the airport, retrieving ski bags and boxes from the truck to a special baggage area supplemented normal check-in. Virtually everyone took the opportunity to have a light breakfast of normal food at the airport before departure.
UTAIR, the Russian charter company from Khanty Mansiysk flies the Tupolov 154 aircraft. These tri-engine Soviet behemoths carry 95-110 passengers cramped in the rear of the aircraft while the former first class/business section is loaded with baggage under cargo nets. Despite this unusual configuration provides a fast powerful and smooth flight (comfort is not part of the trip) of four plus hours and four time zones from Oslo. Evening arrival in Khanty and the temperature is minus 9 Celsius (Oslo was plus five). After an hour or so of airport formalities: rifle inspections, visa checks and passport stamps, everyone is a moved by bus to the Hotel on Seven Hills overlooking the venue.
The drive through this city of 50,000 is one of contrasts. New modern office and apartment buildings abound courtesy of the booming oil business. Only blocks away, there are log cabins that look ready to collapse, even though there are lights inside and howling dogs in the yard. Strands of neon and other Christmas-like bright lights hang over the streets and downtown area where magnificent large ice sculptures dominate the city center.
With a quick move into the hotel rooms which are in small apartment style buildings it is off to dinner. Surveying the buffet of meats and fish with gravy and lots of potatoes, everyone ate with gusto, It had been along day, and everything looked appetizing.
Having been on the ground here almost 48 hours, the fatigue of travel is slipping away. Skis are being prepared, rifles checked in and out of the locked armory for training while anticipation is building for the coming races. Because German television broadcasts the competitions live to central Europe, the starting time for the Men’s Sprint is 5:15 PM local time. This means evening training yesterday and today under the lights. It also means a long day for the athletes of a morning run, breakfast, some dry firing, lunch, a nap, watching DVDs or reading and then training at the end of the day. It is not exactly summer in Siberia with blowing snow today and temperatures about minus five Celsius so everyone spends a lot of time inside before and after training. The dining room is the one place where everyone gathers for long meals and socializing. It is easy to see the long biathlon season is about over, even with the tough competitions ahead, there are easy smiles and jokes abound among the 24 teams here.
Thus the World Cup Final in Khanty Mansiysk is unique; it is a combination of endurance trip, cultural shock treatment and competitions all wrapped in one, far from the home of biathlon in Central Europe. However, once the first starter goes out at 5:15:30 on Thursday, everything will look like the previous eight World Cups and World Championships; 90 men trying to be the best one more time this season.
March 11, 2007
••••••Burke 22nd in Oslo Mass Start••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) with four penalties finished 22nd in the 15K Mass Start competition.
Burke was 2:33.1 behind Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who picked up his second win of the week in a classic battle with his long-time rival Raphael Poiree of France. The Norwegian beat the French star, by about 1 cm in a photo finish. It was the final competition of Poiree’s career and a fitting end. Poiree, Bjorndalen, and German Sven Fischer all shot clean in the final standing stage. The three battled over the final 3K before entering the roaring Holmenkollen Stadium. As they approached the final 100 meters, Poiree went inside of Fischer who dropped back. He then put on a furious drive to catch Bjørndalen at the line as both lunged across the line. The photo showed Bjorndalen the winner. Fischer finished third, with clean shooting, 3.4 seconds back. Although Poiree lost this competition, he left the crowd with an indelible image of his final day in biathlon, battling to the final step.
On another day with less than perfect conditions on the tracks, Burke was competitive throughout the race, picked up two of his four penalties in the final standing stage, which kept him from another top 15 finish.
During the 20K Individual on Thursday March 8 the tracks were deep and soft. A warm night produced conditions that were similar by the time the men started at 2:30. As always, regardless of the conditions, Burke literally “went for it.” “I had the best start I have ever had in a Mass Start today,’ he related. Heading out for the five 3K loops, Burke was just behind the leaders, skiing comfortably. “I missed a big pile-up early in the race, and then relaxed.”
In the first prone stage, he shot clean and left the shooting range in 13th position. After his strong start, he faltered in the second prone stage. Coach Per Nilsson commented, “In this type of a competition, you can maybe have one penalty, but two is too many in a field like this.”
Burke dropped back to 24th position, but in the first standing stage, he shot clean causing Nilsson to add, “I guess Tim got mad after that prone stage, because those were his best five standing shots in a competition all year; four in the prone circle and one just on the edge.” Burke again jumped to within 20 seconds of 15th position. Unfortunately, in the final standing stage, he had two additional penalties while others around him had one or none. He left the penalty loop in 22nd position and after jockeying for that place with a Swiss athlete, finished there.
“I felt normal today, so I expected more, but missing those final shots….well, that is biathlon,” he concluded. “Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the final three races next week in Khanty Mansiysk. I feel like I have some more good races left in me.”
Burke’s 22nd place gave him nine more World Cup points, which helped him maintain 23rd place for the current season. He is only 15 points from 21st place, with three opportunities next week to score points.
March 8, 2007
••••••Hakkinen, Bailey Lead US Men in Tough 20K•••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) in 40th place and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) in 44th place were the top U.S. finishers in the Men’s 20K Individual at the Oslo Biathlon World Cup.
Despite finishing four places apart, Hakkinen and Bailey were separated by a mere 8.9 seconds at the finish, each with three one-minute shooting penalties. Hakkinen finished 5:12.1 behind winner Raphael Poiree of France, while Bailey was 5:21 back. Poiree, who will retire on Sunday, March 11 won his fourth straight competition with clean shooting in 56:15.7. German Michael Greis was second, with one penalty, 5.5 seconds back, with clean-shooting Dmitri Iarochenko of Russia third. 28.9 seconds back.
If the 20K in Lahti last week with its 2K uphill climb was hard, today’s 20K was even harder; not because the hills here are as demanding, but that the snow (or slush) was 6-8 inches deep from start to finish. With two nights of above freezing temperatures, brilliant sunshine, and temperatures reaching plus 8 Celsius at race time, the tracks literally turned into mush by the time the competition started. Bailey, dripping with perspiration at the finish, commented on the conditions. “I felt pretty good especially the first two loops. Then my skis (and everyone else’s) started to slow down. From that point, it took a lot of concentration, because the snow was getting really deep.”
Regarding his performance, Bailey who has struggled at times recently both on the tracks and shooting range, added, “I decided this week to just concentrate on my performance and not worry about where I finish in the final results. At the same time today, with the conditions as they were, my plan was to stay relaxed, but focused on the shooting range. I hit the first four shots in the final standing stage, knowing that if I hit the final one, I would probably be in the top 30. Unfortunately, I missed it, but I am very pleased with my performance. I am feeling much better both physically and mentally than a few days ago and that made a big difference today.”
Hakkinen’s strategy was similar to Bailey. “Under the conditions, there was no reason to struggle, so I decided to just race under control and shoot well. The prone stages came together well (both clean). In the final standing stage, everything felt normal when I set up, but then I suddenly felt all of the fatigue and I missed two.” Those two penalties dropped the Alaskan from the low twenties to 40th at the finish.
Unlike Hakkinen and Bailey, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) had a sub-par day on the shooting range. Burke skied well throughout the whole 20K, but had six costly penalties, leaving him in 56th place, 6:31.5 back. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) also had six penalties, finishing 80th, 8:59.5 back.
Hakkinen, Bailey, and Burke all qualified for Saturday’s 12.5K pursuit competition. Between now and then conditions should improve as a cold front brings some snow and temperatures below freezing.
While the men had a 20K Individual competition (making up for a missed 20K back in December), the Women raced a 7.5K Sprint in the morning. Andrea Henkel won for the sixth time this season, shooting clean while posting a 21:47.9 victory. Russian Ekaterina Iourieva, also shooting clean was second, 24.8 seconds back, while the new German star Magdalena Neuner, with one penalty was 31.5 seconds back. U.S. Biathletes Lanny Barnes (Durango, Colo.) and Denise Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) were 77th and 79th respectively, 4:22.7 and 4:28.5 back. The highlight for the two women was Teela’s 10-for-10 shooting, the first of her career in a World Cup competition. Barnes had four penalties today.
••••••Burke 13th in Pursuit with “ Best Shooting of the Year”••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) buoyed by 19-of-20 shooting moved up from 23rd at the start to 13th place at the finish in the 12.5K Pursuit at the Lahti Biathlon World Cup.
Burke was pleased at the finish, despite losing 12th place to Michael Slesinger of the Czech Republic in a photo finish. The two finished with the same time, 1:10.5 behind Raphael Poiree. The first words out of Burke’s mouth were, “My best shooting of the year; that gives me a 90% shooting week here!”
Poiree, who is retiring after the competitions next week in Oslo, continued to look like the champion of a few years ago, winning all three competitions here. He controlled the race for the 31:03.7 from start to finish, never relinquishing the lead, with clean shooting. Poiree topped the yellow bib of Michael Greis by 6 seconds and Olympic Sprint Champion Sven Fischer by 6.9 seconds. The two German athletes each had one penalty.
As much as his shooting was the key to Burke’s success today, it was also was a hindrance in the second prone stage. “I hit the first target, and then had a jam,” he recounted. “At that point, I must have ejected a round, because there was nothing in the chamber for the final shot. Then I hand loaded the final shot. It was a big disaster.” Despite this problem, Burke shot clean in that stage and only slipped back one position.
His only penalty of the day came in the first standing stage. He flew around the penalty loop aggressively after this miss, heading back out onto the tracks in 16th position. By the time he reached the shooting range for the final stage, he had moved into 15th position. This time he shot aggressively, leaving in 13th position. He passed Christoph Sumann of Austria out on the tracks, but Slesinger moved up from 15th position to challenge Burke. The two battled into the stadium and down the finish straight until the Czech athlete grabbed 12th with a finish line lunge.
After 42.5K of racing in the previous 4 days and places of 15th, 23rd and 13th, Burke was tired but satisfied. “Today I felt normal, not too tired. I am ready for a day off, because these were hard races. The next three weeks have a lot of racing, so recovery is going to be important.”
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) topped Burke in yesterday’s 10K Sprint with clean shooting, but had five penalties. Hakkinen, starting 18th slipped down immediately with two prone penalties and had single misses in each of the next three stages. He battled for a top 30 finish all day but eventually finished 33rd, 2:53.3 back. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had five penalties, like Hakkinen. Bailey started 37th and finished 45th, 4:31.5 back.
With his 13th place, Burke moved back from 23rd to 22nd place in the Overall World Cup Points to 240 points only 9 points from the top 20.
Tracy and Lanny Barnes (Durango, Colo.) finished with the same time at 51st and 52nd places, in the Women’s 10K Pursuit, 6:42.4 behind the winner, Martina Glagow of Germany. The Barnes sisters had one and three penalties respectively, with all of the missed targets coming in the prone stages. For Glagow, it was her second victory of the season and her second this week. Kati Wilhelm finished in second place, 35.9 seconds back. Glagow and Wilhelm both had one penalty. Third went to Katherine Hitzer, also of Germany. This gave the German women a sweep of the podium.
••••••Hakkinen 18th, Burke 23rd in Fast Lahti Sprint••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) finished in 18th place while Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) claimed, 23rd place in Men’s 10K Sprint with both finishing less than one minute behind the winner Raphael Poiree of France.
The Sprint competition was one of the fastest of the season with the first 26 finishers all within one minute of Poiree, who won in 24:39, with one penalty. Poiree who won the 20K Individual finished 5.9 seconds ahead of Alexander Os of Norway, and 16.2 ahead of Hans Gjerdrem, also of Norway.
For the two U.S. Biathletes who finished 41.3 and 55.4 seconds back, the difference was on the shooting range. Hakkinen shot clean today while Burke had two penalties, one each in prone and standing.
Smiling at the finish, Hakkinen was pleased with his first perfect shooting day of the season. “I did take some inspiration from the girls clean shooting yesterday. My shooting in training has been very good all year. It was time for it to show up in a race. Shooting clean is good for my confidence. If I can continue to do that, I will have more good races in the next couple of weeks.”
Besides the shooting, Hakkinen was equally pleased with the skiing on this tough course. “I like this kind of tough course. It suits me well. It was firm and fast today. I had the feeling that I was working hard, but going fast. Having fast skis as we had today really helps too. A race like this puts me in a good position for the Pursuit. At the same time, scoring World Cup points moves me up on the list and closer to getting in the Mass Start at Holmenkollen”. The top 30 on the World Cup points list automatically make the Mass Start field. Hakkinen is in a tie for 37th place while Burke is solidly in 22nd place.
Both Burke and Hakkinen will start the 12.5K Pursuit competition tomorrow as will teammate Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) who also shot clean. This was Bailey’s first clean shooting race in a World Cup. He finished 37th 1:28.8 back. Coach Per Nilsson was thrilled with Bailey’s effort. “Lowell has been struggling with his shooting in races. He shoots very well in zero and training, so we know he can do it. This should help him in the next races.”
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) started fast like his teammates and was in the top 30 after a single prone penalty. However, Teela missed three standing shots and eventually finished 63rd, 2:29 back.
With the three top results from Hakkinen, Burke, and Bailey, the U.S. gained a bit of ground in their battle in the Nations Cup points to finish in the top eight at the end of the season. The U.S. Men are currently in 10th place in the Nations Cup standings, battling the Ukraine and Italy for a spot in the top eight at the end of the season. The U.S. gained points on both countries. A top eight finish at the end of the season guarantees an additional starter in all World Cup competitions next year.
Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, Colo.) both shot clean in the 7.5K Sprint on Friday, finishing 54th, and 59th, 2:59.7, and 3:14 back respectively to qualify. Denise Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) tried to match the Barnes sisters on the shooting range, but fell one shot short, with a single penalty in the standing stage. She finished in a non-qualifying
69th place, 3:55.8 back.
February 11, 2007
••••••Hakkinen Ninth in Mass start: Brings U.S. Team Second Top 10 Finish at World Championships••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) notched his best World Championships result and the second top ten finish for the U.S. Biathlon Team in the Biathlon World Championship with ninth place in the 15K Mass start competition. Hakkinen with his ninth place finish eclipsed his 10th place in last February’s 20K Individual at the Torino Olympic Winter Games. He finished 52.9 seconds behind Olympic champion Michael Greis of Germany. Both Hakkinen and Greis had two penalties. Greis, winning in 37:52.1, topped teammate Andreas Birnbacher by 14.4 seconds, leaving the retiring Raphael Poiree of France, third, 28.1 seconds back.
Although Hakkinen missed the flower ceremony (top 8) by one place, he was in contention for the whole competition. “I was happy to be fighting for the podium all day, so that makes it a good race. But I am disappointed to not be in the top eight,” he commented at the finish. From the outset, he was on the leader board. In the first shooting stage, he picked up the first of two penalties. Still he left the penalty loop in 16th position as many others also missed at least one shot.
From this point, he steadily moved up. The second prone stage was clean and fast, bolting him up to 10th position, 27.4 seconds back. He skied in a group for the next 3K before the first standing stage. Hakkinen rapidly dropped the five targets in succession. Leaving the shooting range, he was in fourth. At this point, he was just behind Poiree. Head Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler called over the radios, “Tell Jay to stay there. Do not try to go ahead.” As an experienced biathlete, Hakkinen was thinking the same thing, “I was very conscious of where I was. I was doing a smart biathlon race.”
In the final shooting stage, he incurred his second penalty of the day. Fortunately, most of those, save the eventual top four also had one or more penalties. Hakkinen left the packed Antholz stadium in fifth position, 38.6 seconds behind Greis, but closely followed by Norwegians Bjorndalen and Andresen as well as Sven Fischer and Austria’s Christoph Sumann. Over the final 3K, Hakkinen fought all of his rivals, but several skied faster. He held on to ninth place in a photo finish with Matthias Nilsson of Sweden.
Looking back on these Championships where he finished 18th in the Pursuit and 9th in the 15K, Hakkinen seemed almost satisfied with the outcome. “I think my preparation as well as our team’s overall was well planned and very professional. We did everything necessary to have good results. I wish I had hit that standing shot, but being able to compete for a top finish is a great feeling. I can tell you that I am really looking forward to next year’s World Championships that are not at altitude.”
Hakkinen topped teammate Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) as Burke did with his 7th place to Hakkinen in the 20K Individual. Burke was in shooting trouble from the outset, picking up six penalties on the day. He finished 24th, 2:36.6 back. Despite Burke’s disappointing finish, the U.S. team had an extremely successful World Championships: two top 10 individual finishes, ninth place for the Men’s Relay team, Hakkinen‘s 18th in the Pursuit, and for the first time, two competitors in the Mass start competition. This list of results says only one thing; the 2007 Biathlon World Championships showed the U.S. Biathlon Team can compete for medals in the coming seasons.
The U.S. did not field a team in the Women’s 4 X 6K Relay, as another athlete fell ill on Saturday evening, leaving only three healthy women available to start. Illness has plagued many teams in the latter part of this championship week, keeping stars like Kati Wilhelm of Germany, Raphael Poiree of France, and Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden out of one or more competitions. Germany won the Women’s Relay in 1:14.19.1 Using seven extra rounds. France, with one penalty and seven extra rounds followed 1:07.08 back, while Norway, with one penalty and six extra rounds, 1:29.7 back captured third.
February 10, 2007
•••••• U.S. Men Finish Ninth in Relay••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) surprised the crowd in the Men’s 4 X 7.5K Relay competition, by keeping the U.S. Team near the top of the leader board for the first two legs. The U.S. men finished ninth, 3:26.9 behind the virtually flawless Russian team.
On a perfect day with clear blue skies contrasting against the gray peaks of the Italian Dolomites, the Men’s Relay started with an unusual false start. From there, the first two legs of the relay probably seemed like a bad dream to many European biathlon fans. After the first prone stage, the clean shooting Hakkinen was in second place, 2.6 seconds behind Russia. Following a clean standing stage, albeit with three extra rounds, Hakkinen was solidly in second position, just 23.6 behind the leader. Slovenia followed the U.S. at the time prompting a Slovenian coach to playfully comment to U.S. Coach Mikael Lofgren, “OK—race over, you are second; we are third. Just like in ski jumping sometimes, one round and we end the competition here!”
In the standing stage, the Alaskan was side by side with German Ricco Gross, who seldom misses a target. He and Hakkinen traded shots, each missing twice before Hakkinen dropped his final target, while Gross took a penalty. “I think both Ricco and I were shocked to be missing those shots. Each time it seemed like the target would fall and it did not,” Hakkinen commented.
Despite the Slovenian’s desire to end the race at this point, the race continued. Hakkinen tagged Burke in fourth position, in a group of three teams, less than one second apart. Burke now becoming used to pressure situations after two recent top-eight finishes, stayed at the back of the group over the whole 2.5K. He calmly cleaned both prone and standing, with a single extra round in each. He left the range in third position, nine seconds behind Norway’s Lars Berger. Berger (one of the fastest cross country skiers in the world) extended the gap between himself and Burke to nine seconds at the tag. “I did not feel so good all morning. My stomach was a bit upset,” Burke stated at the finish. “Berger got a few more seconds on me in the last loop, but that is still pretty good, not exactly like I tanked!” Burke tagged Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y) in third position, 50.4 seconds behind Russia.
As Burke tagged, a beaming Coach Mikael Lofgren said, “This is so great for the sport in the U.S. We had great TV exposure at the top of the standings. We can compete with anyone in this relay.” Bailey made the U.S. staff sweat during his two visits to the shooting range. He needed the three extra rounds in both prone and standing to clean. This extra range time, while others cleaned with fewer shots, dropped the U.S. team down in the standings to eighth position. Bailey was clearly disappointed. “I felt good out there today. All of the shots looked good; I do not know what happened. I am actually pretty bummed out about it.”
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) took the final tag from Bailey. The U.S. was in a group of three teams, places eight through ten. Teela needed two extra rounds in prone and slipped to tenth. In standing, although he needed two extra rounds, Teela shot with speed and authority, leaving France behind on the shooting range. He extended the gap over the final 2.5K, bringing the U.S. to the finish, 3:26.9 behind Russia. With this result, the U.S. men matched their 9th place from last February’s Olympic Winter Games, but fell short of their season best 7th place at Ruhpolding. Although the quartet did not improve from Ruhpolding, they continue to have consistent performances, which means a big leap in the results is not that far away.
The winning Russian team used only one extra round to defeat Norway, anchored by Ole Einar Bjorndalen. The Russians left the Norwegian team 1:00.5 back. The Norwegians had one penalty and 11 extra rounds, while third place Germany had two penalties and 13 extra rounds, 1:32.5 back. When asked if his team’s one extra round was a record, Nicolay Kruglov commented, “I do not know if it is a record. Our coaches told us to shoot clean today and we did the best we could. That is the most important thing.”
February 7, 2007
••••••Burke Makes History with Seventh Place in World Championships••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) placed seventh in the Men’s 20K Individual competition here, giving him the second best ever U.S. Biathlon result in the Biathlon World Championships.
Burke now ranks second only to Josh Thompson, who won a Silver medal in the same event in the 1987 Biathlon World Championships in Lake Placid, New York. Ironically, Burke is a native of nearby Paul Smiths in New York and trains there in the off-season. Asked how it feels to have a place in biathlon history at the age of 25, Burke had a one-word answer, “Nice.”
The competition for Burke was near perfect. He shot 90% missing just two of the 20 shots he fired. The two penalties, both in the standing stage (worth one minute each) were within a millimeter of hitting the mark. Burke finished 1:27.6 behind Raphael Poiree of France, who was perfect on the shooting range, winning in 56:14.6. Second went to Olympic Gold medalist Michael Greis of Germany, with two penalties, 26.8 seconds back, while Michal Slesinger of Czech Republic won the bronze medal to go with his silver medal from Sunday’s Pursuit competition. Slesinger, with one penalty, was 39.3 seconds back.
From the outset , Burke was never out of the top eight except at the first split, just before the first shooting stage, when he ranked 14th. At the time, Coach Mikael Lofgren looked at the scrolling results on his computer and said, “Tim is being conservative.” Burke then came to the shooing range and downed the five targets in rapid succession, leaving in sixth position.
According to Burke, he actually approached competition as a workout. “I decided that I was going to race just as if it was a threshold combo workout (intensity with shooting). I was very relaxed from the start. I took the first two loops a little conservatively, and then realized it was going well and started to push. At that point, the effort (at this altitude) started to hurt. At each shooting stage, I was very solid and just shot like in practice. The coaches told the guys after Sunday’s Pursuit that we were capable of hitting more targets and trying too hard. That really helped me. I did not pick up my rifle until we zeroed today before the race and then it felt great again.”
Burke’s first penalty came in the first standing stage with a close miss that caused Lofgren to grimace, muttering, “So close,” as he recorded it on his clipboard. Despite this, several other competitors were also missing, and Burke was skiing so well that he held eighth position. The next stage, prone was perfect again and Burke was solidly in eighth position. Lofgren, twice an Olympic Bronze medalist in 1992, was just as nervous as if he was out on the tracks as Burke approached the final standing stage. Unlike his three penalties in the final stage in the Pokljuka Pursuit a few weeks ago, Burke mowed down four of the five targets and rocketed out of the shooting range. Lofgren told the staff out on the tracks, “Tim Burke is in eighth place, six seconds from seventh and 20 from sixth.”
“I felt good on the last loop today,” Burke stated after the race. “The coaches told me I could catch a couple of people and I did, passing Simon Fourcade of France in the final few hundred meters.” Burke crossed in sixth place, but a later starter, Frode Andresen of Norway finished fourth, pushing Burke back to seventh. At the finish line, Burke was nothing but smiles. “After this race, the smile is going to be there for a long time. I am so happy to have a race like this. I was bitterly disappointed in the Sprint and Pursuit. I did not perform at the level I am capable of, either day. I wanted to show people that I could do well here, in a Championship and not just in the World Cups. I knew I could have a race like this. It is such a great feeling.” With his historic race today, Burke secured a place in the 15K Mass start competition, which follows the Men’s 4 X 7.5K relay competition. After the flower ceremony for the top eight finishers, Burke explained that after today, he was looking forward to both and was, “excited!”
Behind Burke, Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) just missed the top 30, finishing 31st, with three penalties, 4:47.4 back. The Alaskan, who was 18th in the Pursuit competition, missed two shot in the first standing stage and another in the final stage. “I was trying too hard to hit them (when his missed two) and held a bit long,” he commented. Hakkinen, based on the World cup Points he scored in the Pursuit also qualified for the Mass start competition.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) matching Hakkinen on the shooting range finished 41st, 6:19.6 back. Bailey edged Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) by 6.4 seconds. Teela finished 44th, with four penalties. The combined efforts of the four U.S. men gave the team their second best day of the year, scoring 322 Nations Cup Points, second only to the 349 they scored in the Hochfilzen Sprint in December. The U.S. men are ranked 10th in the world at this time.
Head U.S Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler commented on Burke’s historic effort, summing up the thoughts of the whole U.S Biathlon staff. “Tim had the third or fourth ski time today. I expected a lot from him but this was even beyond my expectations, seventh place with two penalties!”
February 4, 2007
••••••Hakkinen Moves Up 20 Positions Finishes 18th in Pursuit••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) starting 38th, moved steadily through the field in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit to finish 18th, his best result of the season. Buoyed by one-penalty shooting and skis that he described as “outstanding,” Hakkinen finished just 2:24.1 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen, who again demolished the field, winning in 32:21.2, 1:09.9 ahead of second place Maxim Tchoudov of Russia. Bjorndalen had two penalties to Tchoudov’s one penalty. Vincent DeFrasne of France finished just one-tenth of a second behind the Russian in a photo finish. When asked if he could beat Bjorndalen, the French athlete answered, “Ole is the best biathlete ever and he is in very good form, no question; but he is human, so this is always possible.”
Hakkinen’s only penalty came in the first standing stage, when he missed one target. Beyond that single error, the shooting statistics revealed that the almost-perfect Hakkinen had the third fastest shooting time today, 1:39 for four stages, just three seconds behind Simon Fourcade of France.
Hakkinen confirmed that shooting was the key to his success. “I tried to focus on the shooting, one stage at a time. It was really good to have a 95 percent day. I was concentrating so hard on my shooting, that at times, I was not sure if I was moving up in the race. Starting so far back (in 38th position, 2:11 back), I was out of contact with the leaders, which actually was good. Being so far back, I just concentrated on my own race. I was actually shocked when I was told after the final stage that I was in 20th place.”
Hakkinen’s previoius season best was 24th place in the 10K Sprint at Oberhof, Germany. With a look of satisfaction, but also a hunger for even better results in his voice, he continued, “It is so much fun to be competitive in a race again, especially when you shoot well and you feel good out on the tracks. I have had some other times when I felt good this year, but the other things did not come together, so this race was a good race for me. I am not completely satisfied, because I want to make the Mass start and need another very good race in the 20K to do that.”
Hakkinen’s 18th place is a is 18th place personal best in a World Championships Pursuit competition, equaling his second best World Championships result. His 16th place in the 1999 World Championships 10K Sprint tops the list, followed by 18th in the Mass start the same year and 18th in the 10K Sprint in 2005.
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) started just ahead of Hakkinen at position number 35, but unlike Hakkinen was unable to make a big jump in the results list. He finished 32nd, 3:45.3 back, with five penalties. Burke, like Hakkinen, was in the top 30 for the first two stages, after recording just one prone penalty. Four missed targets in the two standing stages, left him 11 seconds shy of 30th place. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska), 5:44 back, with seven penalties finished in the place where he started, 46th, Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had six penalties, finishing 50th, 6:04.2 back.
The clear, windless conditions the men encountered continued for the women in the afternoon. The near capacity crowd of 18,000 fans saw Magdalena Neuner of Germany claimed her second World Championship in the Women’s 10K Pursuit. Despite four penalties, the 19-year-old, after a seesaw battle with Sweden’s Anna Carin Olofsson prevailed in 33:01.6. Olofsson slipped to third as Linda Grubben of Norway out kicked her in the final 50 meters. Grubben, with one penalty finished 7.1 seconds behind the young German, with Olofsson (five penalties) one-half second further back.
Tracy Barnes (Durango, Colo.) turned the tables on sister Lanny, as she finished 38th with three penalties to Lanny’s six penalties in 49th place. They finished 4:38.4 and 6:02.9 back, while Sarah Konrad (Laramie, Wyo.), lapped after seven prone penalties, did not finish.
With a season best 38th place, Tracy took another small step up the performance ladder. “I felt better today than yesterday. I actually had something left in the last loop, passed one person, and had a good battle with the French woman who finished just in front of me. I think I will get better with each race here.”
February 3, 2007
••••••Burke 35th in Sprint: Four Men, Three Women in Pursuit Field••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) finished 35th in the World Championship 10K Sprint, leading the U.S. Biathlon Team, which qualified all four men and three women for the Championship Pursuit competitions.
Burke, after an amazing three competitions (13th, 11th, and 5th places) two weeks in Pokljuka, Slovenia, hit a bump in his outstanding season, missing one target in both prone and three more in standing, for the first time this season. The day, characterized by a strong wind, saw an extraordinary number of penalties. Only 14 of the top 40 finishers had less than two penalties.
As the top U.S. finisher, Burke finished 1:57.8 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen, who had only one penalty, cruising to a finish time of 26:18.8. Bjorndalen was almost nipped by the hard charging Czech athlete, Michal Slesinger, who shot clean, finishing just 4.8 seconds back. Third place was also a surprise as Andriy Deryzemlya of Ukraine, also shooting clean, was 25.8 seconds behind the dominant Norwegian. Bjorndalen commented, “Today was the best day for me in the last weeks. I was very satisfied with my race. It was important to have a good race to start the championships. Many times I have a good race and do not win.”
On his 25th birthday, Burke drew bib number 1. After the luck of being the first starter, he was bitterly disappointed at the finish, commenting, “This is not exactly the birthday present I wanted.” Later, the immediate disappointment had worn off as he added, “I will say one thing first: everyone better watch out tomorrow (in the Pursuit. I really was not nervous at the start or on the first loop. Maybe there was a bit in prone, but it was not major. In standing, I think I may have misjudged the approach. It is very hard. I hit the first standing shot, then missed the second, reset my position and then lost my cadence. The final shot was simply bad. The positive thing is that I skied well. We all had really fast skis today. I intend to come out with a much better race tomorrow.”
At the other end of the start list was Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), who was 103rd of 105 starters. This position gave the Alaskan a virtual free run of the tracks, and plenty of television time, as coverage continues until everyone finishes and the flower ceremony occurs. Hakkinen had two prone penalties and was in the middle of the field coming to the standing stage. He missed only one shot and moved up through the standings, to finish 38th, 2:10.6 back. Twenty-two seconds and eight places (46th) behind Hakkinen was fellow Alaskan Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska). Teela, like Burke had four penalties. Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) also had four penalties, finishing 48th, 2:45.3 back.
Coach Mikael Lofgren commented on the tough day his men’s team encountered. “We had too many penalties. It may have been a bit of nerves for Tim, but there were many bad shots by all of the guys. The wind was about the same during zero as it was during the race, so that should have not been a problem. We will come back tomorrow and try again.”
For the U.S. women in the afternoon’s 7.5K Championship Sprint, it was their best day of the season. Three of the four women qualified for the Pursuit, led by Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, Colo.) in 40th and 41st places, while Sarah Konrad (Laramie, Wyo.) trailed in 54th place. The Barnes twins, both with a single penalty, finished virtually together less than two seconds apart.
Nineteen-year-old Magdalena Neuner of Germany won the women’s competition in 22:46.9, with two penalties, edging Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden, also with two penalties, by 2.3 seconds. Third went to Natalia Guseva of Russia, with one penalty, 19.6 seconds back. Tracy Barnes, who finished 2:20.7 back compared to Lanny’s 2:18.6 back, was smiling at the finish, as she discussed her best day of the year. “I think my good races at the Europa Cup two weeks ago (two 10th place finishes) helped a lot. I was feeling a bit intimidated in some of the World Cups before then. However, at Forni Avoltri, I was more aggressive and it carried over in this race. I finally felt comfortable on the shooting range. It was a day when I did not feel the best, but somehow, the race came together.” Lanny, nauseous during the second and third loops, stopped three times in the final 2.5K, struggling to finish 2.1 seconds ahead of Tracy. Sarah Konrad, in 54th place, had four penalties, finishing 2:51.6 back, making the Pursuit field. Carolyn Treacy Bramante (Duluth, Minn.) finished 83rd, with five penalties, 6:14.2 back. Bramante cross-fired in standing and accordingly had to do five penalty loops.
Even though the U.S. team failed to score any World Cup Points, this first day of the 2007 Biathlon World Championships was a collective success. All of the men made the Pursuit field for the first time this year, while three women did the same, also for the first time this year.
February 1, 2007
••••••Biathlon World Championships ••••••
In a year that has been anything but normal weather-wise, the 2007 Biathlon World Championships opened under (finally) normal winter conditions. Europe had suffered through a virtually snowless, warm winter until late January. At that point, the moisture that has been rain in most of December and January clashed with the cold air and viola—snow! More than a meter of snow buried all of central Europe from northern Germany through Austria, Slovenia, and the northern Italian Dolomites. As this precious commodity fell, there was a collective sigh of relief from hotel and ski area operators across the region.
Antholz suffered through the, wintere preparing for Championships with hundreds of thousands of meters of artificial snow to cover the tracks. Prior to the proceding week, the venue was ready, but the copious snowfall completed the setting for what promised to be a spectacular event. From the bottom to the top of the Antholz Valley (a distance of about seven miles), the Tyrolean style houses and barns as well as the high meadows were glistening white in the midwinter sun, typical of Antholz in February.
With the competitions in two days, the organizers were busy putting finishing touches on the competition venue and spectator areas. The television compound was up and running with technicians testing the miles of cables under the stadium and the 33 camera positions that cover virtually every inch of the tracks. As much of the U.S. watches the Super Bowl, millions of Europeans would watch every minute of the four competitions the weekend and the over the following seven days.
The tracks were in “super condition,” according to U.S. head Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler. Like his counterparts from most of the larger nations, Eisenbichler had been testing skis and wax for several days, seeking the magic potion for the U.S. Team’s skis. The newly rebuilt (in 2005) Antholz stadium looked ready to host the competitions at any time, with the Hora targets getting a good test from the athletes all week. By the start of the competition, each athlete knew exactly how much effort it would take to climb the small bridge as they leave the stadium on their tour of the pine forests before returning through a final tunnel into the stadium which was filled to capacity with 12,000 spectators. Another 6,000 plus spectators were on the tracks, making for a crowd of over 18,000 each day.
Antholz has always been a great party for the spectators. The organizers know how to combine the boisterous German biathlon atmosphere with a bit of Italian culture and sophistication. This means Bavarian-style oompah bands, beer tents, pop idols, men in traditional alpine hats complete with a feather and some pins, as well as women dressed furs and boots straight from the runways in Milan. To keep the party atmosphere running until the wee hours, the “Biathlon Champs Village” fills a large part of the village of Antholz (population maybe 500). This 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. party venue features medals presentations nightly, concessionaires, plus more music and dancing. To keep the roads safe, virtually everyone save the athletes and staff travels to Antholz from their accommodations by an extensive bus transport system.
Besides all of the television productions and the 10-day non-stop party, the competitions are the true reason for this once a year event. Many times the competitive fire wanes in the top athletes in the year after the Olympic Winter Games. This year is an exception, as Olympic Gold medalists from Torino top both the men and women’s Overall World cup standings. Germany’s Kati Wilhelm only took the lead in the final competition at Pokljuka, but her performances have been steadily improving making her a favorite to win several World Championships here. Close on her heels is Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden whose skiing ability and the confidence from a gold medal last year in Torino could produce some classic battles with the red-haired German star.
Atop the men’s standings is Michael Greis of Germany, the multi-gold medalist from Torino. Despite being at the top of the heap, Greis has struggled at times and has only one victory this season. He has competed in every possible competition to accumulate 398 points thus far. Breathing down his back is Norway’s Ole Einar Bjorndalen. After four gold medals in Salt Lake City 2002, the “king of biathlon” failed to score a victory in Torino, settling for less shiny medals, after a season of illness. This season is a different story. Bjorndalen started the year with a cross country World Cup victory and never looked back. He competed in nine of the 14 Biathlon World Cup competitions, winning seven, mostly in a dominant fashion and Greis by just 10 points
The U.S. Biathlon team came to Antholz with Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) in 22nd place in the overall World Cup and capable of competing equally with all of the top men. Burke’s last three World Cup competitions resulted in 13th, 11th and 6th places, by far one of the best race series ever put together by a U.S Biathlete in World Cup competition. Burke, as well as Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), 10th in the Olympic Mass start competition was capable of good results here. Their teammates Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) have also scored world cup points this season, making it possible that all four could be in the top 30. This quartet forms a potent relay team that will be trying to improve their 7th place season best at Ruhpolding.
The Barnes twins, Lanny and Tracy (Durango, Colo.), lead the U.S. women. Lanny had a 15th place in an individual competition earlier this season and hopes to repeat that. Tracy recently placed 10th in Europa Cup competitions, is shooting well, and should challenge her sister in each competition. Carolyn Treacy Bramante (Duluth, Minn.), Sarah Konrad (Laramie, Wyo., and Erin Graham (Jericho, V.T.) will also start in one or more competitions. Graham, a first time World Championships competitor and member of the National Guard will be the U.S. flag bearer in Friday evening’s opening ceremony.
January 21, 2007
••••••Burke 6th in Mass start: Best U.S. Result in 7 Years••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), after missing the podium in the Pursuit competition, came back even stronger in today’s 15K Mass start competition, finishing sixth with the best U.S. Biathlon result since January, 2000.
Burke left the stadium frustrated in the Pursuit after three penalties in the final shooting stage dropping him from fifth to 11th place. It was a different story, as Burke had only two penalties total, compared to four the day before. “After the race, I was determined not to let that happen again. I came out here intending to have a good race and be on the podium”. Finishing sixth, 1:29.4 behind repeat winner Christoph Sumann of Austria, who won in 38:24.18, with no penalties, Burke matched Jay Hakkinen’s 6th place finish in the Pursuit competition at Ruhpolding in 2000. Burke’s sixth is the high water mark for the U.S. program since the millennium.
The competition showcased Burke’s skills. On a sunny plus 15-Celsius day, he started in the middle of the 30-man field, staying there on the narrow, slushy and rapidly melting tracks. In both prone stages, he took longer to set up than others around him, but each time shot clean. After the first stage, he was in 11th position. Another clean stage moved him to eighth position. Coming to the standing stages, there was tension in the U.S. camp, as standing was his undoing in the Pursuit. Missing only one target in the first stage, Burke actually maintained his spot. Over the fourth loop, he briefly moved to sixth, but then decided to follow the Austrian Mesotitsch and Norway’s Stian Eckhoff. The trio shot together, with Burke picking up another penalty, but leaving the loop in sixth position with Mesotitsch and Nicolay Kruglov of Russia chasing. With only two penalties, Burke was not to be denied. Over the final 2.5K, he widened the margin on both of his pursuers, leaving them 11 and 16 seconds behind him at the finish.
At the finish, there were high fives and hugs from all of the staff, for the young Burke who is the sensation of the World Cup Circuit to this point. There were no frowns as Burke talked about his race. “I felt good and was really relaxed. On the fourth loop, I was just cruising, so I expected to have a good final standing stage. Unlike a lot of the others, I had afterburners on the last loop and pulled away from the group.” During the flower ceremony, the smile never left Burke’s face. He was suddenly a part of very exclusive group of athletes and was part of a victory ceremony broadcast live to millions of homes across Europe. Burke’s sixth place capped the best week of his competitive career, with 13th in the Sprint, 11th in the Pursuit, and sixth in the second Mass start of his career.
Less than two months prior, Burke had never scored a World Cup point. This year he was on the podium and ranked 22nd in the World Cup Overall (just one point from 2lst). “You have no idea how many times I have dreamed of this. It is a dream come true. When interviewed by a German television station, he discussed his rise in the World Cup rankings. “I had an excellent year of training under our two new Swedish coaches, Per Nilsson and Mikael Lofgren. That has been a big difference for me. My form has been getting better and better each week. It was just a matter of time before I was on the podium.”
Burke, a graduate of Saranac Lake (N.Y.) High School, prepared for his breakout season mostly on his home turf, using the world-class facilities of the Olympic Training Center and the Verizon Sports Park in Lake Placid, N.Y., as well as traveling to camps in Sweden and Utah. Prior to this season, he and training partner, Lowell Bailey had trained at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent.
January 20, 2007
••••••Burke 11th in Exciting Pokljuka Pursuit••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), after being in fifth position before the final shooting stage finished a frustrated 11th in the Pokljuka Pursuit on January 20, 1:22.3 behind the winner, Christoph Sumann of Austria, in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit competition.
Prior to the final standing stage, Burke, who started in 13th position, missed only one of fifteen shots in the 20-shot Pursuit competition. That single penalty came on the second prone stage, early in the competition. By shooting well, and skiing equally as well, Burke stayed in contention throughout the first four 2.5K loops. With each loop, Burke inched closer to the top group, from 40 seconds back; to 30 seconds back, until he entered the range 20 seconds back in a group of five athletes, positions two through five, all shooting simultaneously. Conditions could have not been better for shooting all day, as the wind flags hung limply on their stakes throughout the competition.
In uncharted territory, Burke missed the first two shots, reset his position; hit the next two, and after a long hesitation missed the final shot. Three penalties for Burke while others around him shot either clean or had a single miss, took him out of contention for a top eight finish. While Burke toiled on the penalty loop, he slipped from the top 10, leaving in 12th position. He pushed the last loop and sprinted in the final stretch, trying in vain to take 10th place from Sweden’s Bjorn Ferry. Both leaned at the finish, with Ferry getting the nod by a less than a foot, although the results recorded it as three tenths of a second.
At the finish with his 11th place glaring at him from the scoreboard, Burke was frustration personified. “I felt very good. I skied comfortably all day. I was gradually moving up all of the time, even after I missed the prone shot. Coming to the last standing stage, in my mind, I was telling myself to shoot just like in practice. Unfortunately, you cannot practice being in fifth place in a World Cup. It was my first time in that position. I guess it got to me a bit. Still, it left me hungry. I have practiced it now and am ready for the next time. If I had shot poorly in the race and gradually moved up to 11th place, I would be ecstatic. However, after being so close, I am not happy with the 11th place. The only consolation is that I scored some good World Cup points, and I get another chance tomorrow in the Mass start.”
Those 24 points Burke scored moved him up to 24th place in the overall World Cup, up from 27th. As one of the 30 men in the 15K Mass start competition, he has an opportunity to move higher as all competitors who finish the Mass start score World Cup Points.
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) also competed in today’s Pursuit competition. Bailey had only one penalty in the two prone stages, like Burke, while Teela had three. At one point, both moved up close to 30th position. Unfortunately, both had four standing penalties, which pushed them down in the results. Bailey also lost a magazine prior to the final stage, losing valuable time, when range officials reacted slowly to his raised-hand request for one from the U.S. spare rifle. Teela finished 41st, with seven penalties, 4:18.5 back while Bailey was 4:57.3 back.
The winner, Christoph Sumann won for the first time since a Sprint victory at Osrblie, Slovakia, in December 2001. The Austrian was near perfect on the shooting range with a single penalty, covering the 12.5K distance in 34:25.9. Sprint victor Alexander Wolf of Germany, with two penalties, placed second, 15.7 seconds back, while France’s Vincent DeFrasne, also with two penalties, was third, 27.6 seconds back.
January 18, 2007
••••••Burke Bounces Back with 13th Place at Windy Pokljuka••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) after 23rd in the mass start at Ruhpolding, came back today with his second best ever World Cup result, 13th place in Men’s 10K Sprint.
For the first two days on the Pokljuka plateau, the wind flags barely moved. That all changed as a front started to moved in from the southwest, bringing strong winds from noon on. By the time Burke, with start number six, left the starting gate, many of the national flags behind the shooting range were wrapped around the poles from the blustery winds. Burke entered the shooting range for prone during a particularly gusty period. He shot aggressively, but missed one shot. “I knew it was a bad shot,” he commented later. Even with one penalty, Burke was flying around the tracks. He came to standing and again left with one penalty, but his skiing was so strong that he almost out skied the penalties. With two penalties, he finished just 52.8 seconds behind the winner Alexander Wolf of Germany, who shot clean. Wolf’s winning time was 22:41.4. Second went to Bjorn Ferry of Sweden who also shot clean, 6.6 seconds behind Wolf. Emile Hegle Svendsen of Norway, with one penalty was third, 8.7 seconds back.
Standing in the finish area with about 30 competitors through the standing stage, Burke was all smiles. “Even with the two penalties, everything was good. It was very windy both times that I shot. I really had to battle in standing to have only one penalty. The skiing was good today. The tracks held were pretty fast. I like where I am with my form now. I feel like it is going in the right direction before World Championships.”
U.S. head Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler, flashing a big grin, like Burke, commented on track conditions and Burke’s race. “The tracks were in very good shape for Pokljuka where there is usually a big difference between the woods and the open spaces where the sun hits. These were probably some of the best conditions of the season so far. Tim was very strong today. He was ninth on the tracks as well as on the last loop. He was very good. Some of the athletes were not as strong as him on that last loop.”
With the 13th place, Burke moved up to 27th position, from 29th, in the overall World Cup, virtually assuring him a spot in the mass start competition. Three of the top 30 men did not compete here, which solidifies his place in the top 30 men for the mass start. The 13th also put him in an advantageous position in the 12.5K Pursuit, starting 52 seconds behind Wolf.
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) tried to match Burke, but finished 37th, with three penalties, 1:46.2 back. Skiing faster than Burke on the first loop, Teela shot conservatively, but still had one penalty. “I shot really slowly. When I go to the final shot, my mind was saying, “you are holding too long, and I missed.” In standing, he had an additional two penalties. “Actually, I did not feel that good,” he added. Still, in Saturday’s Pursuit, Teela will start within striking distance of the top 30 and World Cup points.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), like Teela started strong, with only one prone penalty. He shot standing during a period of wind gusts and picked up two additional penalties. Bailey finished 51st, 2:09.5 back. Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) was also battered by the wind and finished 63rd, with four penalties, 2:42.7 back.
January 17, 2007
••••••Lanny Barnes 43rd in Women’s Sprint••••••
Lanny Barnes (Durango, Colo.), missing only one of ten shots, placed 43rd in the women’s 7.5K Sprint. “It was tough,” is how Barnes described the competition. She added, “Of course that is how the conditions have been all year. The steep uphill was very soft and deep, but the rest of the tracks were pretty good. I was a little tired, after a very hard workout on Monday”. It would have been better to do it on Sunday, but since there was no training on Sunday in Ruhpolding, I had to do it on Monday”.
Barnes finished 2:23.5 behind Anna Karin Olofsson of Sweden, who clocked 21:45. Olofsson, and like Barnes, had one penalty. The winner missed her final shot, while Barnes missed the first prone shot. “I shot the first one too fast,” Barnes lamented. Russia’s Tatiana Moiseeva, with clean shooting was 6.8 seconds behind the Olympic Gold Medalist from Sweden. Third went to Kati Wilhelm, with one penalty, 17.4 seconds back. Wilhelm confirmed Barnes’ comments on the conditions, “This was a hard race, as the snow is deep in places, a bit dirty and accordingly slow.”
Pokljuka is always the spot on the World Cup circuit where snow is virtually guaranteed. Unfortunately, like the rest of Europe, it had seen little this year. Still, conditions were the best since the competitions in Hochfilzen. There was little natural snow in Pokljuka, but the organizers made snow whenever possible over recent weeks, providing good coverage on the tracks, even though there is no more that 30 cm. in most spots. Cold nights at this one-mile high venue made the conditions overall much better than the slush of recent weeks. With her 43rd place finish, Barnes qualified for the 10K Pursuit competition.
January 14, 2007
••••••Burke Crashes Again: Recovers to Finish 23rd in Mass Start••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) suffered another time and energy consuming crash in the first 2.5K of the 15K mass start competition, but regained his composure to finish 23rd, 3:00.1 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway.
Burke, looking like Rocky Balboa at the finish, with several small scratches from the previous collision near the finish, was frustrated as he spoke about his first mass start competition. “I had a good start, in the middle of the pack, skiing comfortably. Under the bridge near the ski jump, Vincent DeFrasne (France) cut right in front of me and took me out at the knees. I went flying across the tracks, with my pole going the opposite way. As I got up, someone else slammed me into the ground again and I lost a magazine. By the time I made it to the shooting range, I was in last place. The chief of competition gave me a new magazine there.”
In that first prone stage, Burke missed two shots low and to the right. “All of Tim’s shots were low, which is unusual,” commented Coach Per Nilsson. Burke came to the second prone stage in 29th position. This time, he had five good shots, but another miss in the same spot. “After the crash, I definitely changed my tactics,” Burke added, “I was not going to follow anyone after that. I led every group during the second half of the race.”
Burke’s aggressiveness paid off, as he moved up steadily during the two standing stages. He came to the first standing stage in 26th, had only one penalty, and moved up to 24th over the next 3.3K. A clean final stage would put him within striking distance of 20th place. He shot fast in the final stage, yet missed another shot, giving him five penalties total. Still, he was able to pick up another spot to finish 23rd, a stellar effort considering the nearly catastrophic beginning.
“I felt good today, so I am pretty disappointed with the early part of the race. I expected a better place. Still, I got eight World Cup points, so it was worth it,” Burke stated as he left the stadium. Unaware of Burke’s mishaps, other than a dropped magazine, Nilsson commented about his performance, “Tim did a good job today. Of course, he can shoot much better. Still, he is competing with the top 30 guys in the world here and fought hard all of the way to the finish.”
Bjorndalen, shooting clean, claimed his 71st World Cup victory today with another stellar performance. He played with the other competitors until after the first standing stage, when he started to put more distance on them, eventually winning by 47.7 seconds over Norwegian teammate, Emile Hegle Svendsen. Svendsen, with one penalty topped Austrian Christoph Sumann by 2.2 seconds. Sumann tried to stay with Bjorndalen over the first three loops, but fell back when the Norwegian turned on the afterburners, leaving Sumann struggling to hold on to third at the finish.
In Europa Cup action in Cesana San Sicario, Italy, Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine) was the third U.S. Junior National Team Athlete on the podium in three days with a personal best third place in the Junior Men’s 10K Sprint. He follows Wynn Roberts (Brainerd, Minn.), fifth in the Junior 15K Individual and Brynden Manbeck (Grand Rapids, Minn.) fifth in the Junior Women’s 12.5K Individual. Currier, with three penalties, continued to burn up the slushy tracks, finishing 28.6 seconds behind Claudio Mussner of Italy. Roberts finished 14th with four penalties, 2:21.5 back, after losing the butt plate on his rifle before the prone stage. He eventually fixed it, but lost time and concentration in the process. Brian Olsen (Heber City, Utah) was 48th in the senior men’s 10K Sprint, with two penalties; 2:21.1 back of Germany’s Jorn Wollschlager. Kevin Patzoldt (Grand Rapids, Minn.) followed in 73rd place, with three penalties, 4:48.4 back.
January 13, 2007
••••••Hakkinen 29th in Ruhpolding Sprint: Burke Makes Mass Start Field, Despite Fall••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), with 29th place in the Men’s 10K Sprint on January 13 continued his climb back from a sub-par December with his third World Cup point scoring effort in a row.
On another picture perfect day with clear skies and temperatures at plus 12 Celsius, Hakkinen continued to resemble the man who placed 10th in the 20K Individual at the Torino Olympic Winter Games last February. With only one penalty, he was 1:45.6 behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen who demolished the field once again. Bjorndalen and teammate Halvard Hanevold, both shot clean, but Bjorndalen outstanding race put second placer Hanevold 37.2 seconds behind at the finish. Norway swept the top three with Emile Hegle Svendsen taking third, with one penalty, 41.7 seconds back
On a calm day when good shooting was the norm, Hakkinen was only 22.7 seconds out of 15th place. His shooting, on both prone and standing was both fast and accurate, despite the one standing penalty. Twenty-five of the top 30 finishers had either one or zero penalties. The close time back and the shooting statistics once again illustrates just how closely matched the top men are in the Biathlon World Cup competitions. Hakkinen has now moved up to 54th in the Overall World Cup standings.
Even with his 38th place finish, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) remains in the top 30 in the World Cup. After not scoring any points, Burke slipped to 29th place. By holding his top 30 ranking, he earned a spot in the 15K mass start competition, reserved for the top 30 competitors. This would be Burke’s first ever World Cup mass start.
Burke started the day on his way to another big result, cleaning prone and coming into the standing stage in seventh position. Burke promptly dropped the first two targets, before a close miss on the third. He pressed to hit the final two targets, missing both. This pushed him back into the low twenties. Approaching the finish, he was battling for a final place in the mid-twenties when his skis tangled with those of Michael Slesinger of the Czech Republic. The Czech athlete wobbled but kept upright, while Burke tumbled hard, face down. He was on the ground several seconds before getting up and finishing, losing all of his momentum and valuable time. At the finish, Burke was O.K., other than a few scratches on his face. With a look of frustration on his face, he commented, “I do not know what happened with the last two standing shots. I knew the third was close. As for the fall, I tangled with Slesinger on the final bridge and lost.”
“I felt the best I have all year, so I went for it,” was Jeremy Teela’s (Anchorage, Alaska) description of his 58th place finish. Teela despite starting 109th had a fast ski time, but four penalties that left him 2:45.5 behind Bjorndalen. Teammate Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had one less penalty than Teela, but finished 63rd, 2:56.6 back.
In the this afternoon’s Sprint competitions at the Europa Cup in Cesana San Sicario, Italy, Brynden Manbeck (Grand Rapids, Minn.) finished second in the Junior Women’s 7.5K Sprint, with two penalties, 1:55.1 behind Shumilova of Russia, who won the previous Individual competition.
In the Women’s 7.5K Sprint, Sarah Konrad, (Laramie, Wyo.) placed 19th with 4 penalties, 3:10.8 behind Ute Niziak of Germany. Carolyn Treacy Bramante (Duluth, Minn.), with two penalties placed 23rd, 3:36.9 back while Haley Johnson (lake Placid, N.Y.) with three penalties was 4:54.6 back.
January 12, 2007
••••••Barnes Sisters’ Shooting Improves in Sprint••••••
Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, Colo.), each with just one penalty finished 67th and 70th in the Women’s 7.5K Sprint on January 12.
Warm weather took toll on the tracks but Ruhpolding organizers had adequate snow on the tracks. It continues to melt, and organizers cancelled morning training to preserve the tracks for the races. Before the start of the women’s sprint, head U.S. Wax Technician Bernd commented, “Actually the tracks are in good shape. They salted overnight and allowed no one on until 11:30, so they are actually hard right now. It should be fair conditions.”
According to Tracy Barnes, that changed by the time she started at number 86, “On the flat part, it was getting really deep by the time I started. It is all slow, but the hills are in better shape than the flat parts.” Barnes, in 70th, finished 3:39 behind Sandrine Bailly of France, who won in 24:24, with perfect shooting. Lanny Barnes, in 67th place, was just 15.3 seconds ahead of her sister. Second place went to Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden, who finished 18.5 seconds behind Bailly. Olofsson had one penalty, in standing. France scored two women in the top three as Florence Baverel-Robert, shooting clean like Bailly picked up third, 37 seconds behind her teammate.
For the Barnes sisters, it was another step back towards consistency. The two are normally excellent shots, but had struggled. Lanny was a bit slow on prone, but hit all of the targets, while having one standing penalty, compared to needed three extra rounds in the relay to clean the targets. Tracy broke her string of sub-par performances in Wednesday’s relay with 10 shots and 10 targets down. Today, she missed her first shot, but hit the next nine. After she finished her clean standing stage, Coach Per Nilsson, looking at his shot chart, said, “That was more like it, really good shooting. All five shots were in the prone ring.” Tracy Barnes added, “I wish I knew where that first prone shot went. The standing felt very good, so it is going better now.”
Denise Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) did not match the Barnes sisters on the shooting range. Teela missed three targets in prone, which put her in an immediate deficit. In standing, she added another penalty, pushing her to 87th place, 5:01.9 back.
January 11, 2007
••••••U.S. Men “Sensational” with 7th in Relay! ••••••
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) crossed the finish line in 7th place in the Men’s 4 X 7.5K Relay with a broad smile and a raised ski pole as the stadium announcer described the U.S. finish as, “sensational” several times.
In a relay won by Norway in 1:29:17, after a seesaw battle with second place Russia, the U.S. Team of Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), and Teela, 2:27.4 back, had a breakthrough day. “I told the boys after the 9th place in Oberhof, that they should be up there in 5th to 7th place; they are that good,” Coach Per Nilsson commented after Teela had sealed the 7th place finish. Today’s finish erases their season best from last week and the identical 9th in last February’s Olympic Winter Games, as a recent best. U.S. Biathlon Executive Director Max Cobb punctuated the importance of the day, exclaiming above the din of the stadium packed with 15,000 fans, “I do not remember ever being in seventh place in a relay. It is pretty exciting!”
The U.S. used their same order as in the Olympic Games and in the previoius week’s relay, leading off with Hakkinen. He normally keeps the team in a good position, as a leadoff man. Hakkinen shot aggressively in both prone and standing. He needed three extra rounds in prone and an additional two in standing to topple the 10 targets. Still, he fulfilled his job, tagging to Tim Burke in 10th position, just 50.2 seconds off the lead.
Burke’s performance was one of the two legs key to the seventh place. The other was that of third man, Lowell Bailey. With a full staff covering all points of the tracks and shooting range, information was plentiful. Burke skied well right from the start closing the gap on the lead group of teams. In prone, he only needed a single extra round to be clean, moving up to eighth position. In standing, he dropped all five targets with a steady, confident cadence. On the final 2.5K, he passed another team while skiing just behind France’s Raphael Poiree, tagging Bailey in seventh position. Burke was happy with his day. “I felt good skiing behind Poiree; that was a big help. With only one extra shot, what more can you say?”
Bailey’s effort was the second key to the U.S. Team’s success. From the moment he started, the radios, were saying, “Lowell is skiing well.” In prone, Bailey shot clean with no extra rounds. “That was the first clean prone in a long time,” he said with a bit of satisfaction in his voice. The clean prone stage pushed the U.S. up to sixth. Bailey delivered for the second time with only two extra rounds in standing, maintaining the sixth position. “My range times were not the fastest today, but I tried to be patient. I have been working hard on this and it paid off.”
The fate of the team fell directly into Teela’s hands. As he left the stadium, just four second ahead of Austria’s Christoph Sumann. Sumann cleaned prone rapidly and Teela needed two extra rounds to clean, as the U.S. fell back to seventh position. In the standing stage, Teela needed all three rounds to clean, but maintained the seventh place to the finish and the roar of the crowd and announcer. At the finish, Teela talked about his day, “My shooting was not the best or fastest. The other guys gave me a good cushion (eighth place Czech Republic was 45.5 seconds back at the finish), so I tried not to be too aggressive. We have never been in seventh before, so I thought it was the day to take that and not risk any big mistakes (like penalties). It was fun hearing the announcer and the crowd as I finished. This is a big step for U.S.”
Nilsson analyzed the big day for the U.S. Men. “If you look at the 13 extra rounds (but no penalties) and compare to Sweden and Austria, fourth and fifth, with four (plus one penalty), and six extra rounds, we were right with them. Each extra round takes 8-10 seconds, so do the math. Our boys can ski with any of them; the difference is on the shooting range. We will get better. I am very pleased with the results.”
This is the second big day so far this season for the U.S. men, who earlier placed, Burke, Bailey, and Teela all in the top 25 in the Hochfilzen Sprint for the first time ever. Nilsson was smiling as he closed with, “I think there will be more days like this.”
January 7, 2007
••••••Hakkinen Slips into Top Thirty with Good Standing Shooting••••••
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), with only one standing penalty, moved up from 32nd position before the final standing shooting stage to finish 29th in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit competition. Hakkinen was the only U.S. biathlete to finish in the top thirty, as Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), who started 19th, struggled with nine penalties to finish 40th.
After another, rainy, windy, and slushy competition, Hakkinen had some regrets about his overall shooting (five penalties). “I would have had a good race if my prone shooting was better (four penalties). Standing is all that saved me. The prone was bad; skiing was good and so was my standing shooting. As soon as all three come together on the same day, I will have a good race! Despite this, it was fun being out there. It was challenging, equally hard for everyone.”
“I admit that the organizers have done as good a job as possible with these conditions.” commented head U.S. Wax Technician Bernd, Eisenbichler, “Still, some of the officials should ski 3K of the tracks, and I think they would realize the conditions are not good.” Eisenbichler’s comments came just prior to the start of the 12.5K Pursuit competition. All night rain and warm temperatures reduced the icy tracks to nothing more than 15-20 cm of crushed ice similar to what you would find in a snow cone on a hot summer day. Organizers worked all night, yet the tracks were narrower and definitely in worse condition. This prompted the frustrated and very tired Gerhard Kohler, Chief of Competition to comment, “I have been here in Oberhof since 1968, and have never seen this type of conditions here at this time of the year. We always have at least some snow!”
Hakkinen finished 3:33.8 behind winner Nicolay Kruglov of Russia, who won for the second time in 20 hours here. Kruglov had one penalty in a 36:18.2 win, pulling teammates Dmitri Iarochenko and Maxim Tchoudov to second and third place, 28.6 and 30.1 seconds back, respectively. Ironically, places one, two, and three had the same number of penalties as their place.
Tim Burke, despite nine penalties was the second U.S. finisher, 4:26.3 back. He had four prone and five standing penalties. This was the first time Burke has missed the top 30 all season. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) started 56th and finished 50th, 5:20.6 back, with six penalties. ‘I knew I was in a bad starting position, so I decided just to work on some fundamentals, because a race is the best training. My skiing was strong, so that is a positive.”
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), like his roommate Tim Burke, had nine penalties, with five in prone and four in standing. Bailey finished 53rd, 5:53.8 back.
January 6, 2007
••••••Burke 19th, Hakkinen 24th in Rainy Oberhof Sprint••••••
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) started 2007 in the same manner that he finished last year, with an strong performance, finishing 19th place in the 10K Sprint, while Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) had his best result of the season, finishing 24th.
After the downpours and gusty winds during the Women’s 7.5K Sprint on Friday, January 5 no one thought conditions would be worse. Unfortunately, nature is full of surprises and it was. Fog settled in during zero forcing the coaches to move to the shooting apron to see the targets. Shortly thereafter, the fog started to lift and drizzle turned into two hours of downpour, which left water running like small rivers across the tracks in several places. Adding to the misery of rain and sloppy snow/ice were brutally strong wind gusts from three different directions on the shooting range.
Even with the elements against them, all four U.S. men, led by Burke and Hakkinen qualified for Sunday’s 12.5 K Pursuit competition. Burke, by virtue of his top 30 ranking, started in the first group at number 21. The tracks were soft at this point, but the hardest rain was yet to come. With some fog remaining, virtually no one in front of him shot clean on prone. As he entered the shooting range, head Wax Technician reported, “Tim is skiing well, just a few seconds behind (Michael) Greis,” who eventually finished second. As the wind swirled, Burke missed two shots by small margins, causing Coach Per Nilsson to remark, “That is good shooting in these conditions, as good as anyone so far.”
Burke came to the standing stage during a period of gale force winds. He set up, waiting about 30 seconds before he fired five shots in quick succession, with each dropping a target! He was clean and in back in the battle for the top 30. He crossed the finish line in 16th position 1:07.4 behind the first starter, Nicolay Kruglov of Russia, who finished in 30:49.4, with two penalties. Only three of the remaining starters were better than Burke was, as he eventually finished 19th. Looking like a drowned rat at the finish, Burke was smiling. “When I came to the shooting range, I realized that was the strongest wind I had seen all day. I just waited; it was all I could do if I was going to hit any targets. I have only been back on the ground here in Europe for seven days so 19th is good. I will only continue to feel better as I get re-acclimated.” With that, he rushed inside a building to escape the rain and dry off.
Unlike Burke in the front, Jay Hakkinen started near the end of the field, at 103. After chasing Ole Einar Bjorndalen in the first leg of the relay two days prior, it was obvious that the Alaskan was returning to form. He confirmed that with 24th place, 1:23.5 back. Reports from the tracks said he was skiing well as he approached the prone stage. With the television cameras focused on him, he dropped the five prone targets in rapid succession. He left the stadium in 10th position, continuing to attract the live television coverage. The TV scrutiny was so intense that Hakkinen appeared several times literally jumping over small rivulets of water that crossed the tracks. With the wind swirling, he dropped the first three targets, but hesitated as the wind picked up and he missed the final two. Still, he was not to be denied a top 30 finish today battling deep wet snow and the hard rain to earn his first World Cup points of the year. Hakkinen was happy, but subdued at the finish, knowing a clean shooting race would have moved him into the top 15. “It is coming. That was better. I am not where I want to be yet (performance or place-wise),” he commented at the finish.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had another solid performance in 40th place, with three penalties, 1:51.4 back. He was just over 20 seconds behind the 30th place finisher previously undeafeated, Ole Einar Bjorndalen.
Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) had trouble on the shooting range finishing with five penalties, but managed to finish 56th, 2:34.5 back. Teela skied well, with the 27th fastest time on the tracks. With his 56th place, all four U.S. men qualified for the January 7 Pursuit competition.
The U.S. Men's 4 X 7.5K Relay team finished ninth matching their finish from last February's Olympic Winter Games.
US Men Match Finish Ninth Place in Oberhof Relay:
"The U.S. men stayed in the top 10 for virtually the whole competition, won by Russia, who had a strong performance on a cool, but windy evening. The Russian Team had no penalties, and just eight extra rounds, winning in 1:26:09.8. The local favorite German team, who never challenged for the win, finished 41.8 seconds back, also recording no penalties, but using 12 extra rounds. Norway was 2:45.2 back with 4 penalties and 15 extra rounds."
"The U.S. finished in ninth place, 6:28.6 back, despite four penalties and seventeen extra rounds. This was a better result, place-wise than the same group had last month at Hochfilzen, Austria when they finished 12th. At Hochfilzen, they were 4:40.8 back, also with four penalties, but three less extra shots."
"In their first relay of the New Year, the men had several opportunities to finish higher, but could not capitalize on them. Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) one day after coming down from an altitude training camp, led off. He left the stadium in the middle of the pack, but within 500 meters was on the shoulder of Norway's Ole Einar Bjorndalen, challenging for the lead. Hakkinen maintained second position to the prone stage, even though Bjorndalen moved away. Hakkinen, normally a steady shot had one penalty after using all three extra rounds, pushing him back into the middle of the 22-team field. He came back aggressively in standing, needing only one extra round to clean. ôI should not have had that penalty,ö he said at the finish, after flying through the last loop to hand off to Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) in ninth position."
"Burke, the rising star of the early World Cups, looked as good as three weeks earlier. He skied with an easy confidence; shot clean on prone, leaving in seventh position. ôTim now expects to perform that way, but he was lucky on a couple of those shots,ö commented Coach Per Nilsson after the clean shooting. Burke needed three extra shots to down all of the standing targets, falling back to 10th position but moved up to seventh with a great effort on the tracks. Assessing his day, Burke said, ôI felt better and better each loop. I was a bit race rusty, but it is now all gone.ö"
"Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) took over from Burke. Bailey used two extra rounds to clean prone, but lost only one position. A clean standing stage would have moved the U.S. up in the standings. After four solid hits, Bailey fired three more times and could not get the final target to drop. Nilsson, looking at the target commented. Two of the misses were less than a millimeter off; so close.ö"
"With Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) on the anchor leg, the team was still in a position to be in the top six. Teela left the deafening roar of the packed Rennsteig Stadium, just 49 seconds out of fourth place. He maintained this position, despite needing two extra shots to clean prone. As he approached standing, the opportunity was still there. Similar to Bailey, he was shooting during an extremely windy period, taking two penalties, leaving the penalty loop in 10th position. Teela, as usual had a good kick over the final 2.5K, and moved to ninth place by the finish. Unhappy with his shooting, Teela commented, ôIt was my fault today for those penalties. I had a chance to get us in a better place. At least I redeemed myself on the final loop.ö"
"Each member of the team had opportunities today, only to be thwarted by the wind or a bad shot. Nilsson, watching the Swiss team finish sixth, commented, ôWe should have been up there. Our boys are that good. Several of them did not take the clicks today, which would have maybe saved some extra shots and a couple of penalties. The wind is tricky here, but you have to learn to gauge it as you approach the range, and make the corrections.ö"
"The ice-based tracks deteriorated with some rain and temperatures a few degrees above freezing. This situation will make the following days very interesting, with weather similar to today."
"The US Women's Relay team finished 15th in tonight's 4 X 6K Relay, won by the French team that never relinquished the lead after moving into first during the second leg."
U.S. Women 15th in Oberhof Relay
"The French took the lead after Ann Kristin Flatland of Norway took a hard fall in the second leg. The fall was the only serious mishap on a night when the tracks were extremely icy in many places. France's quartet had three penalties and 15 extra rounds on their way to the victory, in 1:20:58.4. Germany, also with three penalties, but 17 extra rounds was 6.8 seconds back. China, with only one penalty and 11 extra rounds was 20.4 seconds back."
"Since the end of the first portion of the biathlon season on December 17, not much has changed weather-wise in central Europe. The Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. boasts abundant snow cover, while the ski regions of Europe are snow-starved and warm. Oberhof, billed as the ôwinter sports center,ö received its first snow cover of the year on Jan. 2. For weeks, temperatures here hovered well above freezing, leaving this first Biathlon World Cup of 2007 in jeopardy. The organizers and local community faced a potential loss of approximately 15 mllion Euros if the event was cancelled, as the almost 90,000 tickets have been sold out since last June."
"Accordingly, desperate measures were necessary to get ôsnowö to this area. The Oberhof Organizing Committee brought in truckload after truckload of crushed ice from a fish packing company's ice plant in Bremerhaven, nearly six hours away. They covered 2.5K of tracks with this ice over recent days. On Monday, volunteer crews began grooming, to create a snow-like base. With a few inches of natural snow yesterday mixed in, the tracks look normal. This less-than-perfect solution saved this week's competitions, but left the tracks with an icy base that glazed as the competition progressed."
"Head U.S. Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler described the condition of the tracks prior to the competition. ôActually, it is better than we expected. The organizers did a remarkable job. There is a small very dry snow base on top of this ice base. Below the top layer, the base is icy very granular, different than we have ever seen. It is very interesting to prepare for.ö"
"Fans in the packed the Oberhof Rennsteig Arena saw 16 teams lined up for the 5:15 PM start. Sisters Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) handled legs one and two for the U.S. team. Lanny used one extra round to clean prone and an additional two rounds to clear the standing stage. Tracy had one penalty in prone, but just one extra round in standing. Half way through the competition, the U.S. women were in 15th and remained there to the finish. Jill Krause (St. Cloud, MN) took over from Tracy Barnes. As the competition progressed, the wind continued to pick up, which affected all of the competitors. Krause needed all six extra rounds to clear the targets. Erin Graham (Jericho, VT), in her first World Cup start anchored the U.S. team. Like Lanny Barnes, she needed only three extra rounds to clear her targets, bringing the U.S. women home 10:10.2 behind France."
"On Thursday, the men take center stage here in Oberhof. With many of the top German men, including Olympic champion Sven Fischer coming from Oberhof, the fans are expected to turn out in even bigger numbers. The U.S. men will be trying to improve on their 12th place finish in the relay last month at Hochfilzen. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), who had an amazing leadoff leg in Hochfilzen (fifth position at the handoff) will relinquish scrambling duties to Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK). Burke will go second, with Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), third. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) moves back to his normal anchor position."
"The Men's 4 X 7.5K relay will conducted under the lights like the women's event. These dinnertime starts, with live coverage across Europe, are extremely popular, always drawing huge television audiences."
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"Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), after two weeks of outstanding performances shocked everyone on December 10 in the Hochfilzen biathlon stadium with an extremely competitive first relay leg, eventually tagging off in fifth position, just 21.7 seconds off the lead."
Burke Thrills in First leg of Men's Relay
"The sunny warm Hochfilzen was totally transformed into an alpine winter wonderland as over a foot of new snow blanketed the meadows. The pine trees on the mountainside drooped near the ground from the weight of the heavy wet snow. Fresh snow covered the tracks for the first time this season, lessening the burden on the wax technicians and providing acceptable conditions for both relay competitions."
"The U.S. Men's Relay team eventually finished 12th, despite Burke's outstanding first leg. Burke's aggressive leg kept him in front of the television cameras for all 22-plus minutes that it took him to complete his 7.5k leg. Throughout the first 2.5K, Burke stayed within striking distance of the leading German, French, and Swiss teams, coming to prone in sixth position. He shot rapidly, knocking down all five targets. According to Coach Mikael Lofgren, ""All of Tim's prone shots were excellent today."" Burke left the stadium in fourth!"
"Again, Burke cruised around the tracks, covered with fresh, but wet and in places, glazed snow. Lofgren added, ""He is really going easily."" In standing, Burke shot aggressively, but needed two extra shots to clean, pushing him back to ninth, about 20 seconds from fifth position. Skiing with the confidence he has shown all season, he passed one, then another. By the final uphill stretch to the exchange, he was in fifth position, 21.7 seconds out of first."
"Burke was again beaming in the finish area. ""It was fun and exciting out there today. I had some good battles out there. My skis were really good and that made it easier."""
"Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) took the exchange and kept the U.S. team in at the top of the leader board. He shot clean on prone and maintained fifth position, moving to within 13.4 seconds of first place. In standing, Bailey's legs were visibly shaking as he used all three extra rounds, recording two penalties. This dropped the U.S. men to 12th position, 2:08 off the lead."
"Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) followed Bailey. Teela needed all three extra rounds in prone and had one penalty. The U.S. team dropped to 15th. Nevertheless, Teela came back with an outstanding standing stage, cleaning very rapidly. He moved the team back to 12th by the exchange with Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska). On his standing stage, Teela smiled, saying, ""I just did what I had to do out there."" Hakkinen needed two extra rounds to clean prone, but was quickly out on the tracks. Hakkinen needed the three extra rounds in standing and had one penalty. Even with the penalty, he brought the U.S. men home in 12th, 4:40.8 behind the Russian team."
"The Russian men like the women in the morning, defeated the Germans. Russia needed just three extra rounds, finishing in 1:25:18.4. This left the German team 32.8 seconds back and France in third, 1:03 back."
"Sixteen women's teams started the Women's 4 X 6K Relay competition in the morning. Lanny Barnes (Durango, Colo.), after the best U.S. woman's result in al most two years (15th in Ostersund Individual) led off for the U.S. team. She started well, staying about 20 seconds off of the lead coming into prone. Uncharacteristically, she needed all eight shots to clean prone, dropping to the rear of the field. Even with a fast clean standing stage, she did not move up. At the finish, Barnes revealed that she hurt her shoulder on the first uphill, when she tangled her poles in a closely packed group. She related, ""I was having trouble shooting prone because of the shoulder."""
"Tracy Barnes (Durango, Colo.) handled the second leg, cleaning prone, but needing two extra rounds in standing. Despite this, she moved the U.S. up from last position. Denise Teela (Anchorage, Alaska) took over from the Barnes sisters. Teela held the U.S. position, with two extra prone rounds, and a fast clean standing stage."
"Sarah Konrad (Laramie, Wyom.) anchored for the women.. Konrad had a good prone stage, using only one extra round to clean. Unfortunately, in standing, she needed all eight rounds and had two penalties; while the Romanian athlete just behind her shot clean, leaving the U.S. women behind."
"The U.S. women's team finished in 16th place, with 11 extra rounds and two penalties, 11:15.3 behind Russia. The Russians used only two extra rounds during the competition. Anchoring for the Russian team, Natalia Guseva edged crowd favorite Kati Wilhelm by seven tenths of a second. The pair was together for the final two loops, but Guseva took a five-meter lead on a critical turn near the finish and Wilhelm could not catch her in the finishing straight. The German team had one penalty and seven extra rounds. A young Norwegian Team finished third, 1:50.4 back."
"Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), once again finished in the top 20 in the Men's 12.5K Pursuit on December 9 as the first major snowstorm of the season hit this valley in Austria's Tirol region."
Burke 20th in Snowy Hochfilzen Pursuit
"Change was in the air before the competitions started. A week of sunny, warm, and dry days gave way to light mist early in the morning, with the weather report calling for ---snow. The arrival of the heavy mist sent conditions from bad to worse during the Women's 10K Pursuit. What was just soft deep snow became slushy. As the men began zeroing, the mist turned to snow, which continued to intensify throughout the competition, dropping almost two inches of very wet snow in less than an hour. Despite this, the typical, boisterous crowds filled the Hochfilzen stadium to cheer on watch the men battle the elements."
"Burke started 10th, within striking position of the top three competitors. As the visibility dropped and the tracks deteriorated, he cruised through the first 2.5K, remaining in 10th position. A clean stage moved him up to sixth as he left the stadium. Halfway through that loop, Head US Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler radioed that, ""Tim is right in the middle of the pack, letting the others do the work. He is in a good position."" In the second prone stage, he missed one shot, slipping to 14th position."
"Before the first standing stage, Coach Mikael Lofgren commented, ""With the wind and the snow, standing is going to be hard today."" As Burke set up for the first standing stage, he had to clean the front sight. He reset his position and then snowflakes filled the rear sight. He had two penalties on that stage, falling to 26th position. ""I had a horrible range time on that first standing stage. The sights continued to fill with snow and then I lost concentration,"" Burke said later."
"In the final standing stage, he had a single penalty, giving him four for the day. Still he moved up in the standings as several competitors ahead of him missed more shots and fell back."
"Burke finished 20th, 3:50.5 behind the now five-for-five Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway. Bjorndalen was unchallenged through the 39:50.9 he spent on the tracks. He had two penalties, but still was 2:08.1 of second place Dmitri Iarochenko of Russia at the finish. His Russian teammate Ivan Tcherezov took third, 2:20 back. Iarochenko had two penalties while Tcherezov had one."
"Like Bjorndalen, Burke has a streak going, scoring World Cup Points in all five competitions this season. He was philosophical about slipping from 10th yesterday to 20th today. ""A week ago, I would have been thrilled with 20th, but after 10th yesterday, I am a bit disappointed. Still, I scored points and showed that I can compete up there."""
"The other two U.S. Biathletes did not fare as well as Burke. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska), finished 36th, with four penalties, the same as Burke. Teela shot clean on the first stage, then followed with single misses, putting him in the mid-20s. On the final standing stage, he had two penalties and dropped out of the top 30, finishing 5:05.5 back."
"Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had nine penalties on the day, with four coming in the first standing stage. This pushed him back to 50th place, 7:00.6 back."
"Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), led teammates Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY, and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) into U.S. Biathlon history as the trio finished 10th, 18th,and 21st, on Friday, Dec. 8 in the Men's 10K Sprint. This is the first time three U.S. Biathletes finished in the top 25 in the same World Cup competition."
Tim Burke 10th in Hochfilzen Sprint Three U.S. Men in Top 25 for the First Time Ever!
"Burke's first words at the finish were, ""Four for four!"" This was Burke's fourth top 30 in four competitions this season. The 10th place today is another personal best for Burke, topping his 19th place in the 12.5K Pursuit competition in Ostersund, Sweden last Sunday. He was visibly happier today than Sunday when he was ""simply ""pleased"" with his result."
"The afternoon Men's 10K Sprint, had conditions that were worse than even the women faced in the morning, when it was already warm and sunny, deteriorating the snow. The plus 15-Celsius temperatures made the snow look more like deep sand than snow for all of the men. The snow on the tracks is a dull ribbon of glacier snow, brought to the venue by the organizers from several of the highest glaciers in Austria, cutting through brown fields of brown grass. The positive part of this situation is that there is snow here at all; the negative is that the tracks are very soft and slow for everyone. U.S. Biathlon Coach Mikael Lofgren commented before the women started at 10:30, ""When we started testing skis at 7:30 the tracks were perfect, with a light crust on top, but now the women are sinking down already. By the time the men start, they will sink down to their knees!"""
"Burke started in 25th position. In prone, he faced a wind that shifted left to right twice. Keeping his calm, he had only one penalty. Even with the penalty, he was close to all of the top men, about 45 seconds behind Michael Greis of Germany who eventually finished second. In the standing stage, the young New Yorker was brilliant, literally drilling the five shots. He left the stadium in 10th and by the finish was in sixth position, after only 25 of 119 men had finished. He lost a few places as the competition progressed, ending up 10th, 1:10.9 behind Norway's Ole Einar Bjorndalen, who now is four for four in the victory category this season. Greis, with one penalty, finished second, 39.2 seconds back, while third today went to Matthias Simmen of Switzerland, with two penalties, was 46.5 seconds back."
"Burke's 10th was a mere 2.7 seconds from an eighth place podium finish. Beaming at the finish, he stated, ""Today's effort was like a 20K; the snow was so deep. In places, it was up to here (pointing at a spot just blow the knee). I really had to fight in prone with the changing wind. Nevertheless, the standing was very relaxed. They felt good and I just let them fly."" Burke was extremely nervous last week starting in the top group, but today he felt differently. ""I was totally calm today (starting 25th). After last week, I am fine being up there now."""
"The story does not end with Burke, as his teammates Bailey and Teela were the perfect supporting cast today. Bailey started near the end of the field at number 96. Like Burke, Bailey missed a single prone shot. Going into the standing stage, he was about 30 seconds behind his friend. With a clean standing stage, he left about 25 seconds behind. With each stride, Bailey was gaining on the field, moving from near 30th position to 18th at the finish, 1:27.1 back. His 18th place was a personal best also, topping his 27th place in the 2006 Olympic 20K Individual competition. ""I skied very conservatively on the first two loops, but went for it on the last one. It is good to get my World Champ's qualifier (top 30 finish)."" he commented."
"With his hard last loop, Bailey overtook teammate Jeremy Teela in the final standings. Teela, an earlier starter finished three places (21st) and 3.3 seconds behind Bailey. Teela shot clean on prone for the first time this season and had a single standing penalty. The staff was pushing him just as hard as his teammates on the tracks, as the split times indicated there was less than 20 seconds between 10th and 30th positions throughout the day. The 21st place was Teela's best result since a 20th place at Ostersund in December 2004. Teela expected more of himself, ""I was dead on the last loop. Usually, I can kick better than almost anyone can, but today, I was just hanging on. I felt really slow."""
"The three U.S. men all had just one penalty each today, leading Bailey to comment, ""We all had one penalty-that is super!"" Coach Mikael Lofgren added, ""That is the way it should be. The three boys were super today."" His counterpart, Coach Per Nilsson said, ""I told Mikael that I expected we would have at least three in the top 30 today, but this is even better than I imagined. The boys are in a very good position for tomorrow's Pursuit competition."" The three top 25 finishes gave the U.S. men fourth place in the Nations Cup score today, another high point for the U.S. program. For the season to date, the U.S. men are in 8th place in those rankings."
"Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) placed 79th today, with two prone penalties, 3:32.2 back. Despite this result, it was a breakthrough day for Hakkinen, as he cleaned standing very fast for the first time this season."
"For the three U.S. women in the morning 7.5K Sprint, it was another day of frustration in the soft snow under warm temperatures Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO), had a good start, cleaning prone, which kept her in the top half of the field. In the standing stage, her normally reliable shooting missed the mark three times. On day when the skiing is so hard, every missed target adds to the struggle and she fell rapidly down the standings. She finished 68th, 4:36.7 behind the winner, AndrTa Henkel of Germany. This left Barnes 31.5 seconds from making the cut for Saturday's 10K Pursuit. Henkel shot clean today, leaving rising Polish star Magdalena Gwizdon, who also shot clean, 30.6 seconds back. Third went to Yingchao Kong of China, 37.4 seconds back with one penalty. Only two of the top 10 women had more than one penalty today."
"Lanny's sister Tracy had two prone penalties and another on standing, giving her the same three penalties as her sister. Tracy finished 77th, 5:04.2 back. Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY), starting at 106, near the end of the field had three penalties on both prone and standing. She finished 89th, 6:01.1 back."
"Although none of the U.S. women made the pursuit field, Burke, Bailey and Teela will start, all less than one minute behind the third starter."
Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season is available at www.usbaithlon.org.
"Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, New York), after a personal best 30th place finish in the Men's Individual on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2007, moved up to 22nd place in the Men's 10K Sprint."
Tim Burke Moves Up with 22nd Place in Men's Sprint
"The men's competitions enjoyed good conditions, while the women have struggled through two days of soft, slow snow. Perfectly fast conditions allowed Ole Einar Bjorndalen to win his 64th World Cup competition despite two one-minute penalties. On a similar day today after a hard overnight freeze, he won number 65, with one penalty, covering the glistening icy tracks in 24:16.2. The Norwegian again dominated the field, besting clean-shooting Russian Dmitri Iarochenko by 15.5 seconds. German Olympic star Michael Greis, with one penalty followed the Russian by 1.7 seconds."
"Tim Burke had much better luck today when he fell before the third shooting stage, breaking his rifle stock, forcing him to use the U.S. Team's spare rifle for two shooting stages. After several hours of woodworking repairs by Coach Mikael Lofgren, Burke had his rifle back the next day for training and the Sprint. (I made it over the whole course (in the Sprint) standing up, nothing was broken, so I consider today a success,÷ he chuckled at the finish."
"It was more than just making it through the whole competition for Burke. He picked up another personal best with his 22nd place finish, putting him solidly in the top 30 in the Overall World Cup standings after two competitions."
"Burke started at number four, his first time in the first seed group, surrounded by all of the big stars like Bjorndalen, Greis, Poiree and Gross. In the prone stage, the 24-year old Burke had two penalties, well off the mark. (I was pretty nervous starting up at the front today, so I am not surprised those were big misses.÷"
"Despite the two penalties, Burke was having another good day, just as in the Individual two days earlier. He shot clean in the standing stage, flying around the ribbon of artificial snow to finish 1:38.8 behind Bjorndalen. On the skiing today, he added, (My skis were really good and I felt good. But it was pretty scary out there, very icy and dangerous.÷"
"US Coach Mikael Lofgren added, (Tim did a very good job out there today. He still has a lot of room to improve in both his shape and his shooting, as the season goes on.÷"
"Burke's two penalties and 22nd place put him ahead of his three teammates, Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, Alaska), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, New York), and Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska), who were battling to make the Sunday's Pursuit field. All there had three penalties. Still everyone took to heart, the words of Head U.S. Wax Technician Bernd Eisenbichler who urged the team last night, (to fight for every second as it will be a very close competition.÷"
"Of the three, Teela made the 60-man Pursuit field, in 55th place, 2:33.9 behind Bjorndalen. The usually glib Teela at the finish was pleased to make the Pursuit, but not pleased with his shooting. (I really tried hard to clean prone (shooting very slow and deliberately), but still missed one.÷ When told he missed the two standing shots by about + inch each, he simply frowned.For Bailey and Hakkinen, the day was pure frustration. The duo missed the Pursuit cut by 5.9 and 6.2 seconds respectively. Bailey placed 64th, 2:49 back with Hakkinen on his heels, 2:49.3 back. The men's field was so tightly packed that both were less than one minute from 30th place and World Cup points."
"Lanny Barnes (Durango, Colo.) finished 15th in the season-opening Women's 15K Individual at the Ostersund World Cup on November 29. Barnes' top-15 finish was a huge step for the U.S. Women's Biathlon Team. This was Barnes' personal best World Cup finish, her first top 30 (World Cup Points scoring result), the best U.S. woman's finish since March 2005 and almost a perfect shooting race as she had but a single shooting penalty. (In my mind, I hit that target before I pulled the trigger. But actually, I squeezed the shot just a split second before I should have.÷ she commented at the finish."
Lanny Barnes Surprises with 15th Place in Ostersund
"Asked how she compared this season with the Olympic year when she and her twin sister Tracy struggled with a series of illnesses, ending in mononucleosis. (Well, there is actually no comparison; no words can explain how much better I am physically. It also helps that we have such good support from staff and coaches.÷"
"With her first World Cup top 15, Barnes, with a single penalty, was only 2:13.5 behind the first time World Cup winner Irina Malgina of Russia. Malgina had two penalties on the day, while second and third finishers Liv Kjersti Eikeland of Norway and Zina Kocher of Canada had one each. They finished 3.6 and 23.3 seconds back. Kocher attributed her first podium result (in a long, long time, to taking the nervousness of the first race which everyone has and embracing it, which made me very relaxed.÷"
"If the calendar did not read November 29 in Ostersund, it would have been easy to think that it was March 29. Conditions for this opening competition of the World Cup Biathlon season were spring-like, with light drizzle in the morning giving way to high clouds and steady temperatures all day around plus 5 Celsius, until just before the competition started. Suddenly, the wind picked up, temperatures dropped about three degrees, and there was a brief rain shower. Before the women started, the men had trained on the tracks, leaving visible ruts and tracks in the soft wet snow on every turn and uphill. Under these conditions, a field of 92 women kicked off the 2006-2007 season."
"Lanny Barnes was the second US starter at number 63 while her sister, Tracy started at number 44. Neither Tracy, nor Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) could match Lanny today. Tracy had four penalties, finishing 68th, 7:09.9 back. Konrad started well with a single penalty in the first stage, but collected eight more in the final three stages, finishing 77th, 9:36.8 back."
"After the rain and short-lived windy conditions, the later start time for Lanny was a bonus, as conditions did improve. Both Barnes sisters are excellent shooters and today Lanny was (on her game.÷ She flew through the first three stages of prone, standing, and prone flawlessly, even though one prone hit was a split bullet that fell for her. After three clean stages, the new U.S. coaches Per Nilsson and Mikael Lofgren were visibly nervous, but smiling and confident. Lofgren commented, (I should have the heart monitor now, because my pulse is racing.÷"
"Approaching the final stage, Barnes was in sixth position. A clean stage would put her within reach of a podium position. She calmly set up for the final five shots. They fell, one, two, three, four, and thena the penalty, her only shooting error of the day One minute was automatically added to her time, but she still left the stadium in 13th position. The coaches and staff scattered to the tracks to help her over the final 3K loop. She crossed the finish line in 14th, but another later starter eventually finished ahead of her. Smiling, but definitely tired at the finish, she talked about her day. (I am happy to have done so well this early. The skiing is not quite there yet, but it is early.÷"
"One of Lanny's goals for the season was to shoot clean (no penalties) in every competition. She almost succeeded, drolly adding, (I guess I still have a bit of work to do on that.÷ Even with (work to do,÷ Lanny Barnes' efforts opened not only a new biathlon season, but led the U.S. women in an exciting new direction."
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