KONTIOLAHTI, Finland (February 10, 2012) – Team USA’s rallied to a sixth place finish in today’s Mixed 2x6+2x7.5K Relay. Braving the elements as the official temperature read -19.5 Celsius, the relay squad of Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID), Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), and Tim Burke (Lake Placid, NY) posted a time of 1:29:51.0 (0+9+0+3), 3:28 minutes back from Team France (Boilley, Bescond, Beatrix and Vincent) with 1:26:22 (0+3+0+2) for the win. The Ukraine squad (Burdyga, Pidhrushna, Deryzemla and Sednev) finished second (1:26:23.9/0+1+0+3), and Slovakia (Gerekova, Kuzmina, Kazar and Matiasko) was third (1:27:29.8/0+0+0+3).
“Sara had a solid first leg, was a bit slow to get started but literally warmed up as the race progressed. Her shooting was good and skiing the last loop a really good fight where she gained a couple spots, explained U.S. Biathlon Women’s Coach Jonne Kähkönen. “And Annelies had a solid relay performance and kept us in the mix, the highlight was her fast and clean standing stage. She has been working a lot to get the standing in better shape and today it was there.”
“Jay had really good skiing today, he was in the mix with the best, added U.S. Biathlon Men’s Coach Armin Auchentaller. “After struggling a bit on prone, he also had a really good standing stage and pushed us up a notch at the range and kept us there on the last loop. Tim had a few issues with the rifle functioning in the cold today, but remained really calm and pushed through the obstacles. His skiing was world class, the fastest of the anchors today and he was even able to back off towards the end of the race when he secured our 6th place,” added Auchentaller.
“Today was an interesting day,” said Studebaker. “The weather was super cold and there was a while when we were pretty sure we wouldn't race. Our team handled it well, though, staying in race mode and being ready no matter what. Personally, I struggled a little in the first loop with skiing and getting my head in the race. I was happy to be able to push it in the last couple loops though and bring us back into contention. It's really exciting to have such a good result as a team in the last World Cup before World Championships. I think it gives us all a lot of confidence for the rest of the weekend and as we look toward Ruhpolding.”
“ I think our mentality today was, since we had to race at -20 degrees Celsius, it had better be worth it, “ added Hakkinen. “Overall though the race showed our level as a team on the men's and women's side is raising to the point where we are competitive with the best teams in the world.”
“Today was a great team effort. Everyone had a solid race in really cold and challenging conditions,” said Burke. “I had some big problems with my rifle in prone due to the cold temps, and I was forced to hand load each shot, which cost us a lot of time. Luckily the others gave me a good fusion and I was able to maintain 6th!.”
Extended results from today’s Mixed Relay are available here. World Cup competition continues from Kontiolahti tomorrow with the Men’s 10K Sprint at 10:30 (CET), and the Women’s 7.5K Sprint at 12:30 (CET). Both events will be webcast live at http://www5.biathlonworld.com/en/.