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Burke 13th in Pursuit with 'My Best Shooting of the Year'

Mon, Mar  5, 2007 - By US Biathlon Team

Lahti, Finland, March 4. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) buoyed by 19-of-20 shooting moved up from 23rd at the start to 13th place at the finish today 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!” Photos from the Lahti World Cup

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 past 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, AK) topped Burke in yesterday’s 10K Sprint with clean shooting, but today 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, NY) had five penalties, like Hakkinen. Bailey started 37th and finished 45th, 4:31.5 back.

With his 13th place today, Burke moved back from 23rd to 22nd place in the Overall World Cup Points total. He now has 240 points and is only 9 points from the top 20.

Tracy and Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) 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 places today.

The US Biathlon Team now packs its bags and moves to Oslo, Norway for three days of competition at the Holmenkollen Ski Stadium, starting Thursday March 8.

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.

TD Banknorth is the title sponsor of the US Biathlon Team. Lapua, adidas®, the Hilton Family of Hotels and Exel Ski Poles are supporting sponsors of the US Biathlon Team.