Burke caps World Cup season with fourth in mass start
Tim Burke of Paul Smiths capped off a successful World Cup biathlon season Sunday with a fourth-place finish in the 15-kilometer mass start race in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
Burke, who finished the season ranked 10th in overall World Cup points, completed Sunday’s course in 42 minutes, 9 seconds with one penalty. France’s Martin Fourcade, the overall World Cup points champion, won the race in 41:51.4 with one penalty, followed by Dominik Landertinger (42:05.3) of Austria and Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen (42:08.7).
“(Sunday) was a great way to cap off a memorable season,” Burke said. “Of course I wanted that podium so bad, but I did everything that I could, so I am happy with the effort. I was very tired before the start of the race, but I actually felt pretty good once we got started. Unfortunately, the last loop turned into a lot of tactics because it was so windy and no one wanted to lead. I don’t normally like sprint finishes but I had no choice.”
Burke’s World Cup season was highlighted by a silver medal in the 20k individual event of the world championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Feb. 14 and several top-10 finishes. His second-place finish in Czech Republic was historic since it was just the second time an American has captured a medal in a biathlon World Cup race.
“Overall I am very happy with the season,” Burke said. “I achieved all of my season goals with getting back to the podium, winning a world championship medal and finishing in the top 10 of the overall. Now I am already looking forward to next year’s Olympic season.”
Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid placed 14th in Sunday’s mass start after clocking a time of 42:54.2 with three penalties. Bailey finished 28th in the overall World Cup standings.
“It was a tough race (Sunday), and I tried to stay in it until the end,” Bailey said. “My skiing pace was fine, but the two penalties in the last two stages put me off of the lead pack. Still, I’m happy to finish out the year with a strong World Cup in Siberia, and looking forward to a little rest and recovery in Lake Placid when I get home.”
Bailey placed 10th and Burke was 15th in Saturday’s 12.5k World Cup pursuit in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Christoph Sumann of Austria won the race with clean shooting and a time of 34:47.9.
Bailey clocked a time of 36:21.9 with one miss and Burke crossed the line in 36:29.7.
“(Saturday) was brutal from the start,” Bailey said. “It started dumping snow about an hour before the race and it just got stronger as the race progressed.I had a lot of problems with my rifle – loading rounds, getting snow stuck in the sites, etc. – but from talking to the other competitors, I think a lot of guys had the same type of problems. Given the conditions, I just tried to take each shot on its own, without trying to shoot with my normal rhythm.”
Burke was charged with four penalties.
“We had some really tough conditions (Saturday) with heavy snow falling for the entire race,” Burke said. “I think everyone had a hard time keeping the rifles working. I struggled a bit with this and had a hard time finding my rhythm on the range.”
Annelies Cook of Saranac Lake was the top American in the women’s 10k pursuit race Saturday. Cook shot cleanly in the first three stages, but had four penalties in the final standing stage to finish with a time of 35:21.3. She placed 35th.
“(It) was a tough day for me, even though the result was not too bad,” said Cook, who finished 45th in the overall World Cup standings. “I was so happy to start off doing well, and to keep moving up by skiing well and cleaning the first three stages. But when I came into the last stage my insecurities about standing, and the thoughts running through my head that if I cleaned it would be a great day, proved to be too much.
“It’s funny how different it is to have a penalty in each loop versus four in one stage, but that’s something that I have to work on – figuring out how to handle the mental pressure of being in a good spot that is riding on one shooting stage. I am disappointed in myself, but luckily it is all still part of the learning process.”
Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic won the race in 30:58 with two penalties, followed by Russia’s Olga Vilukhina (31:05.8/+3) and World Cup leader Tora Berger of Norway who clocked a 31:13.6 with two misses.
Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. was the next-best American with a 58th-place finish in 39:06.5 and 11 penalties.
“I made some huge mistakes out there that resulted in one of my toughest results to date,” Dunklee said. “To top it off, my coach told me afterwards that I cross-fired in the last stage and incurred more penalties. The last couple weeks for me have been a classic example of the emotional rollercoaster that we athletes ride.”