Tim Burke continued to show his good shape with a 10th place in the first pursuit competition of the season that took place today in Hochfilzen, Austria. Burke started with bib number 20, one minute behind yesterday’s winner Ole Einar Bjoerndalen from Norway. With the eighth best skiing performance of today’s race Burke already started out strong during the first loop. After a clean first shooting stage Burke already moved up in the result list and managed to not fall back despite two misses overall in the second and last shooting.
Strong last kilometers
Especially the last loop turned out to be a display of his strong skiing performance as he easily passed Italian Christian De Lorenzi who left the stadium just ahead of Burke. As the US athlete explained later there was a lot of tactics within those last kilometers of the race. “It was not too hard to pass the Italian but when I looked back I already saw Lars Berger coming closer and closer” Berger, who is a double champion in cross country skiing, is not only one of the strongest skiers in the field but he also set the best skiing time in today’s competition. “I knew that I might not have a chance to compete with him but I just thought: Why not? So I pretended that I am already dead”, Burke laughed after the race. “When he passed me I just stayed behind him and skied with him. It felt pretty good that I was able to do so!” With a time gap of just 2.2 seconds in the finish Tim really showed an amazing last loop that made the whole team proud.
"Everything is possible"
“Tim’s race really was amazing to watch”, said team leader Bernd Eisenbichler. “He maneuvered really smart during the last loop and a 10th place after all that has been going on the last week just showed us once more that Tim is in a position where everything is possible!”
Jay Hakkinen, the second US biathlete in the race also showed a promising result. Hakkinen moved up continuously throughout the race until four misses in the last shooting stage destroyed all dreams of a top position. "Jay said that he somehow just lost his focus in his last shooting but until then he really showed a good race and we know that he is able to do solid races in the next competitions to come", explained shooting coach Armin Auchentaller after the race. With the 50th place Hakkinen didn't match his own expectations but in the meantime he gained some more of the much needed race experience.
Burke jokes: "I am spoiled with those two podiums!"
Burkes on the other hand knows that his results from last week raised the bar within the team quite a bit. But the most important thing for the US athletes right now is to stay calm and patient no matter what results they will score. The focus is on the Olympics and that will be the main goal for the whole team. Yet according to the athletes and especially Burke that's a hard thing to achieve. "I have to force myself to stay calm", Burke jokes after the race. "Normally a 10th place would be fine for me but I guess I am a bit spoiled right now with those two podiums!"
With the fourth place in the overall world cup Burke has all reason to be spoiled...