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.
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