Kontiolahti, Finland, November 28. The two longest events in biathlon, the Womens 15K, and the Mens 20K will open the 2007-2008 Biathlon World Cup season here tomorrow.
The new season will start without two stars of the past decade, Raphael Poiree of France and Sven Fischer of Germany who retired at the end of last season. Nevertheless, the “King of Biathlon,” Ole Einar Bjorndalen is still on the scene and seems ready to take on all challengers, like Michael Greis of Germany, the Torino Gold Medalist, his teammate Michael Rosch, and a host of Russians, who on any given day can be on the top of the podium. The women’s field is just as deep, but lacks a dominant figure like Bjorndalen. The German women with the young Magdalena Neuner and the Olympic Gold Medalist Kati Wilhelm are good bets to be near the top of the results list, along with Tora Berger of Norway and Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden.
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) is the top US man going into tomorrow’s 20K, and hopes to improve on his breakthrough 2006-07 season when he scored World Cup Points in 18 of 24 competitions. Nevertheless, it is a new year and the other US men including Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), who had a ninth place finish in last year’s World Championships, as well as Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK), who celebrated his 31st birthday today, will push Burke all year.
Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) started last season with a 15th place in the 15K at the season opener in Ostersund. Both she and her sister, known for their shooting skills, will have the opportunity to match that result tomorrow in the 4-stage competition where shooting is critical, as each penalty adds one minute to the competitor’s final time.
Today, Coach Mikael Lofgren made a few comments about recent training and the upcoming competitions here in Kontiolahti in the following YouTube video.
Tomorrow’s competitions are scheduled for 11:30 (women’s 15K) and 2:30 (Men’s 20K), local time in Finland.
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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