Trondheim, Norway, March 21. Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) finished 13th in today’s 12.5K Pursuit competition at the Biathlon World Cup here, slipping four spots from his 9thplace in Thursday’s Sprint.
Burke, with three penalties, finished 1:14.8 behind Ole Einar Björndalen of Norway, who took the victory after shooting clean in the final standing stage. The “King of Biathlon” notched his 88th World Cup win in 33:36.3, with two penalties.
At one point today, Burke was fighting for a podium position. He, along with teammates Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) all cleaned the first two prone stages. At that point, US coach Per Nilsson commented, “That was amazing. I do not ever remember having three men ever all clean the first two stages of a four-stage race.” After the clean shooting, Burke was in fourth position, while Bailey was in ninth. As is the case many times in biathlon competition, things changes rapidly. In the first standing stage, Burke hit the first two targets and then missed the next three, while Bailey matched him. Both of them fell out of contention, with Burke now in 20th position. In the final stage, Burke cleaned rapidly, leaving the stadium in 17th position and in hot pursuit of several people in front of him. By the finish, he was up to a very respectable 13th place. Bailey missed two more shots in the final stage, eventually finishing 31st, 2:02.7 back. Teela also had five penalties, finishing in 49th place.
Burke commented on his shooting, “My position was not good when I hit the first two targets. I should have reset my position, but did not and missed the next three. Everything else today was good. I felt good; my skis were good, and I only had that bad stage.”
Likewise, Bailey salvaged his day with fast skiing, recording the 11th fastest time of the day. This was the first time Bailey has skied that well in a major competition. He said, “I tried to go for it. You cannot be a player if you do not try!” Regardless, both Burke and Bailey’s efforts today showed great promise.
For Burke, he scored enough World Cup Points to move to 27th place in the Overall Rankings, ensuring him a place in that 30-man 15K Mass Start field on Sunday and another chance for a big result.