At the finish line, Bailey, did not seem as much elated as relieved. “I am really happy just to be here and have been able to race. I got up this morning and did not feel exactly 100%.”
He continued, talking about the skiing today, when the weather warmed considerably from the previous days, leaving the tracks much softer. “It was definitely getting softer, especially on the uphills. Still, it was nice to be on a course where I could work on the technical skills that we have practiced all year.”
Bailey and Teela will be the only US Biathletes in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit tomorrow. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) both missed the 60th place cutoff, in 75th and 78th places, 3:03, and 3:17.1 back. Burke and Hakkinen who each had a top 15 finish last week (12th in the Sprint and 9th in the Individual), had tough days on the shooting range, which pushed them back in the results.
Burke started with one prone penalty and then picked up two more in the standing stage. A very frustrated Burke explained his day on the shooting range, “In prone I hit the first shot, then I had a jam and the magazine fell out, which cost me a lot of time. Then, I missed the next shot. That set the tone for the day. As for my skiing, I did not feel so great, again. For almost two weeks, I have felt tired and that was the case out there today.”
Today’s winner, Dmitri Iarochenko showed again that he is at the top of his form, after placing third in the Sprint last week and second in the Pursuit. Today, he topped Ole Einar Bjorndalen by 37.7 seconds. The Norwegian had two prone penalties, but came back to shoot clean in standing, flying through the final loop to move into second. This gives the Norwegian two second place finishes and one first after his season opening 29th place in the Individual at Kontiolahti. The victory last week gave Bjorndalen an amazing 75 World Cup victories. Third went to another Russian, Andrei Makoveev, who had two penalties while finishing 55.2 seconds back.
In the Women’s 7.5K Sprint, Lanny Barnes was the sole US entrant, finishing 72nd, 3:15.2 behind Sandrine Bailly of France. Barnes was surprised to have two prone penalties, but came back to shoot clean in the standing stage. “Those both looked like good shots. I would like to know where they went?” she queried. The conditions continued to soften in the afternoon as Barnes was touring the Hochfilzen layout. “This course does not give you any breaks. You have to work hard all of the time."
Bailly, the model-like star of the French team earned her first win of the year with a perfect effort today. The thin, blonde Frenchwoman shot clean, finishing in 21:53. Her perfect shooting matched her skiing as her nearest competitors also shot clean and she left them in her dust. Second went to Ekaterina Iourieva of Russia, 18.8 seconds back while German star Kati Wilhelm was 33.9 seconds back.
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