Tim Burke wins silver at biathlon World Championships (update)

Paul Smiths native Tim Burke claimed silver today in the 20-kilometer individual race at the International Biathlon Union World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Burke became only the second American ever to step onto the medal podium in the World Championships, following in the footsteps of Josh Thompson, who won silver in same race in 1987.

In a phone interview with the Enterprise shortly after the race, Burke indicated he was motivated today in part by worse finishes earlier in these World Championships: a 28th-place finish in the 10k sprint Saturday and a 32nd-place finish in the 12.5k pursuit Sunday.

“I was really disappointed and a little bit angry after the first two races,” Burke said. “I feel like I’ve had such a good year of training. I had really perfect preparation for these championships, and I didn’t want to let them slip away without a good result. So I went out there, and today, I was on more of a mission.”

Martin Fourcade of France took first place in the race with a time of 49 minutes and 43 seconds. The 31-year-old Burke finished 23.5 seconds behind him. Fredrik Lindstroem of Sweden finished 10.2 seconds behind Burke.

“Other than slightly soft snow, the conditions for this long distance competition were perfect,” the IBU reported on its website. It called Burke’s silver “surprising.

“Burke was having his best day since being on the podium back in December at Pokljuka (Solvenia),” the IBU report said. “Three clean stages put him just 11 seconds behind Fourcade and in the medal hunt. Like many of his rivals, Burke had a penalty, but left ahead of Lindstrom as he headed for the final loop. At this point, it was all skiing that would probably determine the final podium spots.

“Burke flew around the last loop and came home in second place.”

Burke also made U.S biathlon history in the months leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when he became the first American to rise to the top of the overall World Cup standings for a brief period.

“I’m obviously really proud of wearing the yellow bib a few years ago, but I think this is it. This tops that,” Burke said. “To do this at World Championships is different from having a podium at the World Cup. Here, you know, you have a medal in your hands, and you see your flag raised, and this is different.”

Burke was still trying to come to grips with the historic moment.

“Everything happened so fast,” Burke said. “You finish – I realized I was in second place. Next thing you know, you’re on the podium. It was definitely great, great emotions, but at the same time I think I need a few days before I really realize what it means to me.”

Here are the results, according to The Associated Press:

1. Martin Fourcade, France, 49 minutes, 43.0 seconds (1 missed target).

2. Tim Burke, United States, 23.5 seconds behind the leader (1).

3. Fredrik Lindstroem, Sweden, 33.7 (1).

4. Ondrej Moravec, Czech Republic, 48.6 (2).

5. Bjoern Ferry, Sweden, 1:11.8 (1).

6. Simon Fourcade, France, 1:18.4 (1).

7. Lukas Hofer, Italy, 1:19.0 (2).

8. Andreas Birnbacher, Germany, 1:36.6 (2).

9. Henrik L’Abee-Lund, Norway, 1:37.3 (2).

10. Jean Philippe Leguellec, Canada, 1:48.4 (1).