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Burke, Bailey top U.S. biathletes

February 10, 2012
By the News staff , Lake Placid News

Paul Smiths native Tim Burke led Team USA with an eighth-place finish in the 15-kilometer mass start at the World Cup biathlon event in Oslo, Norway on Sunday, Feb. 5.

Burke posted a time of 41 minutes, 44.1 seconds with no misses at the first two ranges, two at the third and one at the fourth.

Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid finished 14th in the event with a time of 42:32.3.

Article Photos

Bill Demong, of Vermontville, races to third place during a World Cup nordic combined competition Sunday, Feb. in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
(AP photo - Armando Trovati)

Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won the mass start in 40:44.1, followed by Andreas Birnbacher of Germany in 40:50.4 with clean shooting and Evgenly Garanichev of Russia in third with a 41:01.9.

"After (Saturday's) race, I felt very confident that I could be up there again today," Burke said after Sunday's race. "I felt very relaxed with my shooting, but I struggled a little with the back wind in both standing stages. My biggest problem in standing shooting is that I tend to rock forward sometimes so when the wind picks up from the left side like today, I really have to fight.

"I felt totally in control on the skis today. It was no problem to follow the others, and I actually thought about going to the front to push the pace, but I did not want to get overly aggressive before standing. I am looking forward to Kontiolahti because I feel like I am in a good flow now."

Team USA's men now sit eighth overall in the Nation's Cup rankings, and the U.S. women are 12th.

Burke was coming off a strong showing in Friday's 12.5 kilometer pursuit race where he finished sixth. After starting in the 15th position, Burke posted a time of 32:52.8 with clean shooting.

"(Saturday) was a great day for me," Burke said. "This was the first time that I have shot zero penalties in a four-stage race, so of course I am very happy about that. This was the perfect way for me to bring in my 30th year. I guess it took me this long to figure out that racing is much easier when you don't have to ski any penalty loops."

Bailey finished 12 in the pursuit with a time of 33:32.3. Arnd Peiffer won the event in 31:44.

Team USA now travels to Kontiolahti, Finland for the eighth stop of the E.ON IBU World Cup series. Racing begins on Friday, Feb. 10 with the sprint events.


Demong back on podium

It's been nearly two years since Bill Demong has stood on the podium following a top-level nordic combined competition. In fact, the last time the Vermontville native earned a medal was an Olympic gold at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Demong ended the drought on Sunday, Feb. 5, leading a strong United States performance with a World Cup bronze medal in Val Di Fiemme, Italy at the same site where he captured his last World Cup medal just prior to the Vancouver Olympics.

Demong stood in 17th place after the jumping portion of the event, and then rallied big time by turning in the fastest finish time in the 10-kilometer cross country ski race to finish less than four seconds behind the winner, Japan's Akito Watabe. Demong was also less than a second off the silver medal finish time.

"It feels good to be back on the podium," Demong said. "I hadn't really thought about it until we got to the press conference and realized the last time I was on a World Cup podium was when we were in Val di Fiemme in 2010 right before the Olympics. It's been two years, and the same location. It's good because it's the site of the World Championships next year."

Sunday's race wrapped up three days of World Cup nordic combined racing at the site. On Friday, Demong was 18th in an individual 10k race and joined Steamboat Springs, Colo. native Bryan Fletcher to finish sixth in Saturday's 2x7.5k team event, where the pair finished less than nine seconds off the podium.

Demong turned in a finish time of 28 minutes, 31.7 seconds en route to his third-place finish. Watabe won in 28:28.7 and Mikko Kokslein of Norway was runner-up in 28.30.8.

"Today, I was a little more patient and made it happen," Demong said. "At the end of the race I had enough energy left to keep pushing. On Friday I started very very hard and yesterday (Saturday's team race) I was really tired. Today finally was a good race from start to finish. I'm really happy now."

With Demong leading the way, all four U.S. skiers placed in the top 20. Bryan Fletcher matched a career-best World Cup result, finishing seventh, Taylor Fletcher placed 14th and three-time Olympian Johnny Spillane was 19th.

"The courses are super hard here. They are revamped," Demong said. "I don't know if I ever skied a harder cross country course than today."

"All our guys jumped really well, but we have to take our hats off to Akito Watabe who pretty much schooled everyone on the jumping hill and had a big lead," U.S. nordic combined head coach Dave Jarrett said. "We've been putting a lot of energy into getting it going and hopefully we can keep it rolling."

The U.S. nordic combined skiers will next be in World Cup competition Feb. 18 and 19 in Klingenthal, Germany.



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