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Burke 22nd in Oslo Mass Start

Mon, Mar  12, 2007 - By US Biathlon Team

Oslo, Norway, March 11. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) with four penalties finished 22nd in the 15K Mass Start competition here today.

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, 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.

Burke and teammates Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK), and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) will compete in the World Cup Final starting next Thursday in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. The US men are still trying to capture a top 8 finish in the Nations Cup standings, which would give the US an additional starter in World Cups next season. The US is less than 100 points behind Italy, currently in eighth.

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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