U.S. biathletes battle harsh conditions
Tim Burke finished 61st in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint and Annelies Cook placed 60th in the 7.5k women’s race as the U.S. biathlon team opened the second trimester of the World Cup season Friday in foggy, rainy and windy conditions in Oberhof, Germany.
Burke, a Paul Smiths native, suffered through six misses on his way to a final time of 29 minutes, 41.5 seconds. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won the race in 26:44.3 to capture his 32nd career World Cup victory.
Svendsen missed two targets and finished in 26 minutes, 44.3 seconds to edge compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen by 0.4 of a second.
“I was a bit anxious since I had no wins this year, so it is nice to have at least one win before the Olympics,” Svendsen said.
The 39-year-old Bjoerndalen, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, also missed two targets as wind, rain and fog made conditions difficult.
“I had good skiing, although the shooting was just OK,” Bjoerndalen said.
Overall World Cup leader Martin Fourcade of France was third, 21.7 seconds behind with three missed targets, ahead of Russia’s Evgeny Ustyugov, who missed one.
Leif Nordgren of Minnesota was the top U.S. finisher with a 43rd-place performance in 28:52.5 (two misses). Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid did not race due to a cold.
Cook, a Saranac Laker, completed the 7.5k women’s course in 26:43.2. She will race again today in the 10k pursuit.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus won the women’s 7.5K sprint, finishing in 23 minutes, 6.7 seconds after missing one target for her first victory of the season.
Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen was 29.8 seconds behind with two missed targets, while Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine was third, 36.4 seconds back after no mistakes.
Overall leader Gabriela Soukalova from the Czech Republic had to settle for 26th place but maintained her lead in the overall standings.
Local favorite Andrea Henkel was given loud support by the crowd in the 36-year-old’s last home sprint, but she could only manage 37th place after four mistakes. Henkel, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is retiring at the end of the season.
Svendsen and Domracheva will carry the results into the men’s and women’s pursuits today, with mass-start races scheduled for Sunday.
Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. took 32nd on Friday as the top finisher for the U.S. women. She finished in 25:26.6 with four penalties.
“Oberhof is known for extreme conditions of fog, wind and rain, and today it didn’t disappoint,” Dunklee said. “On the range I struggled with the conditions and jet lag. However, my body felt much more responsive on skis than earlier in the season and that is a huge step in the right direction.”
Dunklee will also compete in today’s pursuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.