Jeremy Teela (Heber City, Utah) finished in 24th place to lead the American effort in the men’s 12.5km pursuit event at Whistler Olympic Park Tuesday afternoon. Teela had a final time of 35:45.4, 2:07 off the pace set by the gold medalist, Björn Ferry of Sweden, who posted a time of 33:38.4. The silver medal went to Christoph Sumann of Austria in 33:54.9, while Vincent Jay of France won the bronze medal with a 34:06.6.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) placed 36th with a 36:34.0, while Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) placed 46th with a time of 37:26.8 and Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, Alaska) finished in 57th place with a time of 40:33.2.
At the start, Canadian local hero Jean Philippe Le Guellec and Jeremy Teela entered the course early due to some confusion amongst the competitors and race starter, resulting in a penalty that would cost both of them.
“I have no idea what happened there at the start," Teela said. "Suddenly, I was just sent out on the course and I just wondered where some of my competitors are. I thought they might be sick or something happened to them but then [Bjorn] Ferry passed me again and I thought, 'Well, he’s not sick.' So that’s when you start thinking that something must be wrong. It didn’t affect me right away but it certainly did at the last shooting. I’ve seen the star at the result board behind my name and that indicates that you broke a competition rule somewhere along the way. So while my misses in the first standing were just because I took too much risk, the one’s at the last shooting were just a consequence of all that mess around.”
Besides the start mishap, the U.S. results were solid but after the sprint race a better ranking was just not possible.
“I certainly will focus on the individual now and I just took that race today as a good preparation,” said Bailey. “It was nothing more because I already was so far behind. I skied how I wanted to ski but some mistakes at the shooting range were just a bummer. I could tell immediately that those were misses. But as I said, it was just a prep race for the individual. That’s what counts now.”
“Starting that far behind I knew that I had no chance to be anywhere in the front so I had my mind set at the Individual already,” said Burke. I just have to figure out what’s going on with my skiing right now. I feel flat and tired and I have no idea why. So that’s something I’ll have to be able to handle before the next race.”
“My race of course wasn’t good and I am not happy with it,” said Hakkinen. But honestly, I am glad that it is over since we already had a disadvantage in the Pursuit because of the conditions at the sprint. I know I am in shape and I am looking forward to the Individual because it’s down to zero again then. We will all have our chance again and that’s what I’m focusing on right now."
In an exciting women’s pursuit Sara Studebaker (Boise, Idaho) posted another Top 50 result with just two misses at the shooting range. At the top an unbeatable Magdalena Neuner from Germany took her first ever Olympic gold. Sprint winner Anastazia Kuzmina from Slovakia came in second, ahead of France’s Marie Laure Brunet.
Statement Sara Studebaker: “I am really happy with my shooting today. It was solid and I felt good and steady at the range. Despite that I think my skiing today was a bit flat but I loved the experience anyway. It was the first international pursuit I raced in this year so that was quite exciting. The crowd was again amazingly loud and I just love to be able to compete here. My goal was to take a Top 40 spot to get some world cup points but I am not too disappointed that it did not work out. Now I am really looking forward to the Individual. If everything goes well a Top 30 place should be in reach!”