Ruhpolding, Germany, January 12. Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), each with just one penalty, finished 67th and 70th in the Women’s 7.5K Sprint today.Three days of no rain here during a competition is a bit of an aberration. Nevertheless, the long stretch of bad weather seems to be over. Both relay competitions featured favorable, but warm conditions, which are continuing. The warm weather is again, as in Oberhof, taking a toll on the tracks. Unlike in Oberhof, the Ruhpolding organizers have adequate snow on the tracks, but it continues to melt, so much that the organizers cancelled morning training to preserve the tracks for the races. Before the start of the women’s sprint, Head US 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 today 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, today was another step back towards consistency. The two are normally excellent shots, but have struggled recently. 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 today, so it is going better now.”
Denise Teela (Anchorage, AK) did not match the Barnes sisters on the shooting range today. 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.
Organizers are hoping the good weather holds for the Men’s 10K Sprint on Saturday, as they expect crowds to swell to over 20,000. Burke, Hakkinen, Bailey, and Teela will start in that order for the US. A top thirty finish for Burke will probably secure him a start position in Sunday’s Mass Start competition, which will feature the top 30 men. Burke currently ranks 26th on that list.
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