Burke leads the way for Team USA

OBERHOF, Germany – Tim Burke of Paul Smiths was the top American finisher in steady rain and fog Sunday as the fourth event of the World Cup Tour came to a close with the 12.5-kilometer pursuit.

Burke placed 30th with a time of 35 minutes, 58.1 seconds, with four penalties. He shot cleanly in the first two stages of prone, then had two misses in the final two.

Dmitry Malyshko of Russia shot cleanly and posted a time of 32:22 for his third trip to the top of podium this weekend. He won both individual races and anchored the Russian relay team.

Evgeniy Garanichev of Russia took second in the pursuit with a time of 33:05 and one penalty in standing. Czech Republic’s Ondrej Moravec finished third with clean shooting and a time of 33:12.8.

“I was very tired today,” Burke said. “I just did not have anything right from the start of the race. I am looking forward to a few easy days before racing next week in Ruhpolding. I think all of us are excited to leave the rain and fog of Oberhof behind.”

Cleaning his first two trips to the range in prone, Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid finished 42nd, up from a start at 51, with a time of 37:06.8 and four penalties in standing. Leif Nordgren of Minnesota finished 48th with a time of 37:21.8 and six penalties.

Burke is ranked 11th in the overall World Cup standings. The U.S. men’s team ranks 11th in Nations Cup standings.

Team USA heads to Ruhpolding, Germany for the fifth stop of the IBU World Cup series, which opens Wednesday with the women’s relay.

4×7.5k Relay, Saturday

OBERHOF, Germany – The United States team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Russell Currier and Leif Nordgren finished fifth in Saturday’s 4×7.5-kilometer relay. The result tied the U.S.’s best World Cup relay finish in the post-Soviet era.

The team was in second place after Burke’s leg and went on to finish in 1:22:20.3. Russia won the event in 1:20:35.7, followed by Norway in 1:20:44.

Bailey raced the first leg for Team USA, cleaning both stages in prone, with four extras needed in standing. Bailey tagged to Burke in seventh, just 12 seconds out of second place.

With strong skiing, shooting clean with one extra round (0+0,0+1) and an amazing sprint to pass Germany just before the tag, Burke propelled Team USA to second place following the second leg and tagged to Currier, marking the the first time Currier has taken a tag in podium position.

Currier skied strong to keep in the mix for second with Germany and Ukraine. The challenging weather and course conditions made it tough on the downhills, but Currier left prone with two extra shots and tied for second with Russia. Currier cleaned standing with one extra shot, tagging to Nordgren in fifth place, just 30 seconds back from Norway in the lead.

Nordgren kept a solid hold on fifth for Team USA with three extra shots needed in prone, then cleaning his final standing stage and crossing the finish 1:44.6 behind Russia.

“Today was a great day for our team,” Burke said. “I think we all wanted to show that we are much better than our 16th place finish from the last relay. I was very impressed that Russ and Leif held it together under such pressure, especially in front of 20,000 spectators. I was happy with my race and I think this was a perfect tune up for the weekend.”

“The race for me went OK,” Nordgren said. “I skied pretty much the whole race on my own. In some regards that was kind of nice, it gave me a chance to focus solely on my own race, and as it was the first race back after the break that was a good thing. I had had some problems in the first trimester, so it was good for me to do my own thing. Otherwise, it was a little bit of a bummer skiing on my own. To be up towards the front on such a big relay but not quite with the group, a little disappointing … but I’m not complaining.”

“It was an exciting race today, everything I expect from the Oberhof World Cup experience,” Bailey added. “The course was really hard and salt-infused in some places and soft and slushy where they didn’t put any salt on it. There was rain, wind, and a decent amount of fog thrown in for good measure. I feel pretty good about my leg. I haven’t been able to train at full capacity as I’m still dealing with a broken toe. The good thing is that I can skate without much pain. I would have liked to hit a few more targets in the first prone, but it seemed like whole field shot poorly that first stage and I was able to exit the range still within contention. Tim did a great job bringing us back up to the top of the field, and Russ and Leif both has solid races to help us to the fifth place. I’m psyched and I know we can improve with this lineup with the relays to come.”

Women’s races

OBERHOF, Germany – Olga Zaitseva overcame three missed targets to win a women’s 10-kilometer pursuit Sunday for the Russian’s first biathlon Word Cup win of the season.

Zaitseva missed two shots in the second prone stage and another at the first standing stage, but shot cleanly in the next to finish in 32 minutes, 1.9 seconds.

Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic was 25.9 seconds behind in second for her first podium finish, while Valj Semerenko of Ukraine was third. Both missed one target.

Norway’s Tora Berger uncharacteristically missed seven targets but still managed to finish fourth, 36.8 seconds back.

Germany’s Miriam Gossner, who won the 7.5K sprint Saturday, missed all five shots at the first stage, and then five more to finish 10th.

Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake finished 72nd in Saturday’s 7.5k sprint race, clocking a time of 25:14.4 with five misses. Gossner won the event in 21:17.2.