Hochfilzen, Austria, December 7. The second Biathlon World cup of the season opens on Friday under conditions that would be more conducive to summer biathlon than the winter sport. As the athletes completed official training today at 3 PM, Central European Time, the thermometer read 14 Celsius or about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Skies over this village in the Austrian Tirol were crystal clear, with not a cloud in sight. Athletes used to training and competing in the dead of winter chose light headbands and rolled up shirt sleeves, while the coaches stood on the shooting range with no jackets or coats in sight
This type of weather has been the norm for most of the early winter here in central Europe, with no end in sight. The Hochfilzen organizers have done an unbelievable job in preparing under trying conditions. For about one week prior to the arrival of the teams this past Monday, they hauled snow from the highest glaciers in Austria. They have covered enough area for three loops of 2.0K, 2.5K, and 3.3K. The snow depths range from 1.5 feet in the stadium to about a foot in most spots.The lone sign that it is winter and Christmas is less than 3 weeks away is a small Christmas tree that greets the athletes as they approach the stadium.
Unfortunately, the competitions over the next three days probably will not be the fairest relative to the snow conditions, which deteriorate rapidly after the nightly light freeze. Early starters in the women’s 7.5K sprint tomorrow; kicking off at 10:15 will see the fastest conditions. The Men’s 10K, which starts at 1:15 will face very soft deep snow, not conducive to fast skiing and definitely favoring the strongest of the male competitors.
Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) who placed 15th in last week’s 15K in Ostersund leads the US women, while Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), currently 26th in the overall World Cup standings is currently the top US male biathlete.
Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season is available by clicking the Biathlon World Cup logo at the top right of the page at www.usbaithlon.org.
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 US Biathlon Association supports the US Biathlon Team and development of the sport on all levels within the United States.
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