BIATHLON - Hakkinen, Perfect on Shooting Range; 17th in Ruhpolding Sprint
Ruhpolding, Germany, January 12. Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) on the heels of 10-for-10 shooting placed 17th in the 10K Sprint competition here today. With his first clean shooting of the season, Hakkinen had his best result since the season-opening 20K Individual in Kontiolahti, Finland where he placed 9th. Although a light drizzle fell all afternoon, nothing fazed Hakkinen, shooting confidently in both the prone and standing stages. He had what Coach Per Nilsson called,"a perfect biathlon race, I am happy that Jay and Lowell (Bailey, in 28th place) both scored points. Most importantly, they both (along with Tim Burke) are improving. The places are less important now than the improvements in skiing and shooting that we saw today."Hakkinen, 1:23.7 behind the winner Michael Greis of Germany, echoed those sentiments at the finish line,"I just tried to continue the momentum that I had in the relay Thursday evening here. I was a little conservative skiing, so I would be OK in the shooting range and it paid off. It is still all about the shooting. I have worked hard on that recently."As he put on his warm-ups, he added,"It was a hard race. I was a bit sick a few weeks ago, but now I feel that I am coming back."A short video interview with Jay Hakkinen follows: http://www.youtube.com/watch'v=_PMpzFWvss8 The German crowd gave Hakkinen a huge cheer as he crossed the finish line, but saved their biggest cheers for their Olympic Champion Greis. Like Hakkinen, he shot clean, leaving the rest of the field in his wake. Second place went to Maxim Tchoudov of Russia, 19.8 seconds back, with one penalty. Alexander Wolf of Germany, whose relay leg on Thursday was crucial to the German Team's third place, continued to roll, grabbing third place 30.5 seconds back, also with one penalty. Like Hakkinen, both Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) showed good improvements today. Bailey shot clean last week in the Oberhof Sprint, but finished 46th there. Today, he scored his first World Cup Points of the season, in 28th place. The one penalty loop (approximately 20 seconds) Bailey had to ski was probably the difference between his 28th place and the high teens where Hakkinen finished. Bailey was 23.3 seconds behind his teammate. After the competition, he said,"I am pleased with my shooting, but my skiing is still not quite where I expect it to be. Still, it is going better."Burke, 36th with two penalties, 2:02.3 back looked like a different person today compared to his first competition in over a month Thursday evening. The smile was back on Burke's face as he talked about how he felt,"That was much better! I know it will take a while to get back to where I expect to be, so I need to be patient. A couple of times today, I felt myself starting to go over the line (physically) and immediately backed off. It was much better to lose 10 seconds per loop by slowing down, as opposed to crashing (slowing down dramatically) and losing two minutes. I am not back yet, but with a few more races, I think I will be where I expect to be."Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) continued to struggle on the shooting range, picking up two prone and three standing penalties as he finished 81st, 3:32.5 behind Greis. Hakkinen, Bailey, and Burke will all compete in the Men's 12.5K Pursuit tomorrow afternoon. In European Cup action at Langdorf, Germany, Duncan Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY) finished 30th in the Men's 20K Individual, with five penalties, 6:50 behind winner Hans Martin Gjedrem of Norway, who won in 55:09.5. In the Junior Men's 15K Individual, Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) finished 18th with five penalties, 5:06.5 behind Florian Graf of Germany. Graf had two penalties, winning in 46:29.5. Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) followed Currier with seven penalties, in 28th place, 7:42.6 back while Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN), also with seven penalties, placed 43rd , 9:50.7 back. US Biathlon Development Coach James Upham commented on the conditions during the competitions,"It was about plus 5 Celsius, and overcast, but there was a fairly strong wind at times which resulted in a lot of penalties in the men's competitions. When the women competed, there was a lot of wind, which kept shifting. The Barnes handled it very well, but actually, everyone did a good job on a tough day. We are looking forward to the Sprints tomorrow."Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) took top honors for the US Biathlon Team with 15th place in the Women's 15K Individual. Barnes had one penalty, as she finished 4:32.6 behind Julianne Doll of Germany who won in 53:06, with two penalties. Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) was 19th, with two penalties, 5:42.2 back. Following the Barnes sisters was a junior competitor, Laura Spector (Lenox, VT), with five penalties finished 26th, 8:06.2 back. US National 5K Cross Country Champion Caitlin Compton (Warren, VT), in her first international biathlon competition finished 33rd, with ten penalties, 10:15.1 back. The next three US women finished in quick succession with Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY),with eight penalties in 36th place, 10:49 back; Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) in 39th place, with 6 penalties, 11:35.2 back and junior competitor Brynden Manbeck (Grand Rapids, MN), 40th place with 5 penalties, 11:37.9 back. Tomorrow's Europa Cup competition will be a 10K Sprint for men and a 7.5K Sprint for women. Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, as well as archived highlights, is available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org. 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