Burke, who had felt very fatigued in yesterday’s 12.5K pursuit competition looked and felt fresh today. “I do not know what was wrong yesterday, but today I was 100 times better. I feel so good that I am sorry that this is the last race.”
This final competition of the Biathlon World Cup season was won by Russian Ivan Tcherezov, with two penalties, in 42:29.7. Second went to the Overall World Cup winner Michael Greis of Germany, 12.7 seconds back, with four penalties. Sven Fischer of Germany was third, 14 seconds back with three penalties, while Burke in 17th place was 2:01.4 back with six penalties. Until the final shooting stage, the competition belonged to Ole Einar Bjorndalen who was almost one minute ahead of the field. However, in the final standing stage, Bjorndalen struggled in the wind and missed three targets, while the Tcherezov shot clean and left Bjorndalen, who eventually finished fourth, on the penalty loop.
The wind was a significant factor today especially in the standing stages. In the two prone stages, Burke had two penalties, keeping him in 21st place. In standing, he had two penalties in each stage, which was closer to the norm than the exception. Hanevold had four penalties in standing while the 19th place finisher also had four. “I can’t be disappointed with the shooting,” Burke explained. “It was like…you would get ready to squeeze the trigger and the wind would just push the rifle dramatically. I reset my position two or three times in each of the standing stages. It was brutal.”
Skiing two penalty loops after the final shooting stage, Burke left the stadium in a group of four: places 17 through 21. By the time he reentered the stadium, nothing had changed other than Matthias Simmen of Switzerland had replaced Simon Fourcade of France in the group. Burke shadowed the other three until about 300 meters to go. He then started to push with Hanevold just behind him. As they came off the final turn, Burke was firing on all cylinders as Hanevold tried desparately to catch him. Both dived at the finish, with Burke gaining the advantage.
With his 17th place finish, Burke earned enough World Cup Points to finish 25th for the year, just one point behind Carl Johann Bergmann of Sweden whose 13th place today pushed him ahead of Burke. Burke’s 267 World Cup points is the most ever scored by a US Biathlete and his 25th place final ranking is also a US best, topping Jay Hakkinen’s 33rd place in 2005. Burke’s total is 71 points higher than Andriy Deryzemlya scored for 30th place this season.
Burke, who could not stop smiling at the finish line, commented on his season. “The season as a whole has not sunk in quite yet, after the first couple of races when I scored points, I thought, ’I think I can finish in the top 50 at the end of the year.’ Finishing in the top 25…well, that is something I have dreamed of all my life. Now I am more motivated than ever before.”
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