The US biathlon team wrapped up its season Sunday, March 18 with the 15-kilometer mass start in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke was the top American finisher, placing 22nd in a time of 45:41.2. Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid wasn't far behind with his 24th-place finish in 45:55.2.
Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won the mass start in 43:15.7 with only two misses, followed by Arnd Peiffer of Germany in 43:39.2 and Anton Shipulin of Russia in 43:47.5.
Paul Smiths native Tim Burke takes part in a post-race ceremony Friday, March 16 after placing fourth in the IBU World Cup 10-kilometer sprint race in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
"This was a very frustrating way to end the season," Burke said. "I was fighting for a podium finish until the last shooting. I was incredibly unlucky during this stage with the wind. It was blowing harder than we have seen here all week. The others who I was shooting with at the time also struggled with three or four penalties. Unfortunately, this is part of biathlon."
After missing one shot at each of the first two ranges and none on the third, Burke was slowed by four misses at the final range.
Bailey, on the other hand, started slow and picked up steam later in the race. He had three penalties at the first range and just one over the final three.
"I fell in the opening 200 meters and that really put me a ways back from the field right off the bat," Bailey said. "Then I had three misses in the first prone, which put me even further back. From then on, the race went better and I was able to claw my way back up to 24th.
"Turns out that it was pretty important for me to get those extra World Cup points. I ended up squeaking ahead of Bjorn Ferry in the overall World Cup score to finish the season at 14th. I'm ready for a little break now, but after that I'm looking forward to another season starting in a few weeks."
Burke finished 20th in the overall World Cup standings.
On the women's side, Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vt. closed her rookie World Cup season with a 28th-place finish in the 12.5k mass start. Dunklee clocked a time of 43:10.5, about four minutes behind the winner, Darya Domracheva of Belarus, who crossed the line in 39:01.4.
Tora Berger of Norway was second in 39:11.4 and Kaisa Makarainen of Finland was third in 39:34.0.
"I had been hoping to finish my last race on a more spectacular note, but I am proud to have given it my best effort," Dunklee said. "Today was a humbling reminder of how challenging the sport is. This season has been incredible and it's been wonderful to work with such a dedicated and talented staff. I've achieved far more than I dared to dream and I'm going home happy."
Burke opens strong in 10-kilometer sprint
Burke took fourth place in the opening day 10-kilometer sprint biathlon event Friday, March 16 at the IBU World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
"I am very happy with my race today," Burke said. "I felt that I was still in good shape after World Championships and I have always liked the tracks here in Russia. I think the course suits my strengths well with lots of gradual climbing and little recovery."
Burke posted a time of 27:03.6 with his only miss coming at the first shooting range. Martin Fourcade of France was the top finisher in 26:40.2 (no misses), Arnd Peiffer of Germany was second in 26:45.5 and Fredrik Lindstrom of Sweden was third in 26:46.9.
Bailey finished 20th with a time of 27:47.2 with misses on each of the first two ranges.
"When I came into the shooting range after the first loop I could see that Martin was still shooting, so I knew that I had probably made up time on him during the first loop and was off to a good start," Burke said. "I was frustrated to miss my last prone shot but I was feeling good and just tried to keep the hammer down. After standing, I knew I was fighting for a top spot but I had no idea how close things were. I only knew that I was in sixth leaving the range. But anytime you are in the top 10, you have to know that every few seconds will be a place."
Jay Hakkinen of Alaska finished 19th with a time of 27:46.5 (1+0) and Russell Currier of Maine was 37th (28:19.2/1+1).
Dunklee continues to have an outstanding rookie season, posting a career-best 10th place sprint finish Friday in a time of 23:14.6 (1+0), which was 1:03 behind the winner, World Cup leader Magalena Neuner of Germany. Ukrainian Vita Semerenko was second in 22:14.7 with clean shooting, while Darya Domracheva of Belarus was third in 22:27.7/0+1.
Sara Studebaker of Idaho finished 37th in 24:41.5.
World Cup biathlon continues today at 6:30 a.m. (Eastern) in Khanty-Mansiysk, with the men and women's pursuit. Log on to www.biathlonworld.com to watch the pursuit live.