Burke 26th in pursuit

Paul Smiths native Tim Burke turned in the top performance for the American team during Saturday’s pursuit races at the World Cup biathlon event in Oberhof, Germany. Burke placed 26th in the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit, crossing the line 3 minutes, 18.9 seconds behind the winner.

A sold-out DKB Arena was rocking despite the change in weather from Friday’s sunshine and windless conditions. Saturday’s competitors faced strong winds and temperatures in the teens, making for an especially tough day on the shooting range. Nobody in either race shot clean and only two athletes had but one missed target.

The wind didn’t seem to bother Burke early in the race as he cleaned both prones, moving him up 19 places to 16th. However, things grew tougher in the standing with Burke missing two targets at each stage dropping him back to 26th at the finish.

“Today was another challenging race with extremely windy and cold conditions,” Burke said Saturday. “Considering the conditions, I am happy with my performance. It’s always good to move up in the pursuit and I feel like my ski shape is getting better with each race. Hopefully I can continue this trend next week in Ruhpolding.”

Also moving up the standings in the men’s race was Russell Currier, of Stockholm, Maine, who climbed 12 places, with 15 of 20 shooting, to finish 34th and earn seven World Cup points.

“It’s been four years since I last finished in the points,” Currier said. “It was frustrating knowing I could do it, but never being able to execute on the few chances there were. Today was the sign of progress I’ve been training for all year.”

World Cup points leader Martin Fourcade of France claimed his eighth win of the season, winning the men’s pursuit in 36:45.7. He was one of the only two athletes in either race with just one penalty.

Germany’s Arnd Peiffer finished a distant second, 1:09.9 back with three penalties. Italy’s Dominik Windisch matched his third place from Friday’s sprint, 1:32.4 behind Fourcade with five penalties.

In the women’s 10k pursuit, held a few hours after the men’s race, the American women struggled with the conditions on the shooting range. Susan Dunklee, of Barton, Vermont, and Clare Egan, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, both improved their starting positions only slightly. Dunklee, with nine penalties, placed 44th, and Egan, with seven penalties, finished 49th. They were 49th and 51st off the start line, respectively.

France’s Marie Dorin Habert moved up from third in Friday’s sprint to win the women’s pursuit with two penalties and a time of 34:33.3. Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalova finished second, with three penalties and 38.8 seconds back, while Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen was third with four penalties, 1:19.1 behind Dorin Habert. 

“We had cold temperatures amplified by a brisk wind,” Dunklee said. “I tried to draft someone on every loop entering the stadium because of the strong headwind. I am capable of shooting a lot better than I have these past couple days and now I am focusing on putting together a strong performance.