Burke moves up with strong outing in Italy

Tim Burke of Paul Smiths turned in an outstanding performance Saturday in the 12.5-kilometer World Cup biathlon pursuit race in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.

Burke started in the 45th position, but catapulted to 14th after turning in the third-best net time of the day. Burke got through the first two shooting stations unscathed then had one miss at each of the last two. He finished with a time of 32 minutes, 47.6 seconds.

“After a disappointing performance (Friday), I am very happy with the race today,” Burke said. “I finally felt like I had the ski speed that has been missing for much of the season, and I was also in more control on the shooting range today.

“Biathlon is a crazy sport and you can have big swings from one day to the next, but that is also what makes it so fun. I hope this is a good sign with World Championships only a few weeks away.”

Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid started seventh on Saturday and fell back to finish 16th with a time of 32:50.9 with three misses. Bailey held on among the top 10 throughout the first half of the race, reaching as high as fourth at one point, but penalties later in the race slowed him down.

Anton Shipulin of Russia won the pursuit with a dominating performance that resulted in a 31:24.2 time at the finish. Jakov Fak of Slovenia was second in 31:46.8 and Daniel Mesotitsch of Austria was third in 31:50.

Burke is now 14th in the overall World Cup standings and Bailey is 27th.

On the women’s side, Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake placed 37th in the 10k pursuit with a time of 35:40.5 and seven misses at the range.

World Cup points leader Tora Berger of Norway won the pursuit with a time of 31:21.8 and two misses, Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine was second in 31:40.7 and Kaisa Makarainen of Finland was third in 31:47.3.

Cook was the top American finisher, followed by teammate Sara Studebaker in 39th and Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. in 44th.

Sunday relays

Cook returned to the course Sunday for the 4x6k relay event. She was joined by Dunklee, Studebaker and Hannah Dreissigacker to post a 10th place finish in 1:17:45.2. Germany won the event in 1:13:02.

Bailey and Burke teamed up with Russell Currier and Leif Nordgren to finish 12th in the men’s 4×7.5k relay. The U.S. team finished in 1:16:47.3. France won the event in 1:13:26, followed by Russia (1:13:36) and Austria (1:14:44.5).

“The race was up and down,” Bailey said.”I felt good on the skis and the race was going well until standing when I missed three with my clip. You never want to give yourself three shots to hit the last three targets but that was the case today. I was able to hit all of the remaining targets and get out on the course within contact with the leaders. I was happy with the last lap and felt strong through the finish.”

Burke, Bailey and Cook were all named to the U.S. World Championships team. The event begins in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Feb. 7.