KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (March 19, 2016) - Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) is certainly ending his World Cup season on a high note. As an encore to Friday's season-best sixth place in the men's 10-kilometer sprint, the three-time Olympian raced to another season-best performance in Saturday's 12.5km pursuit at the BMW IBU World Cup 9 in Khanty-Mansiysk. The effort tied a personal best for Burke in a World Cup pursuit, having previously finished sixth in 2012 in Oslo, Norway, and in 2009 in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Starting sixth on the day, 52.6 seconds back of the leader following yesterday's sprint, Burke showed he was running on some fast skis today as he made up nearly eight full seconds on leader Julian Eberhard of Austria at the 2.1km time check. After cleaning the first prone shooting stage, Burke maintained his sixth place in the pack but was now just 29.4 seconds out of the lead, and he was just beginning to heat up.
On the second lap of the race, Burke tied Russia's Anton Shipulin for the fastest course time in five minutes, 39.9 seconds. He capped off the blistering lap with another clean round in prone to vault him into medal contention in third place, now only 20.9 seconds from first.
Burke maintained his position through the third lap as he entered the standing shooting phase. His first miss on the range bumped him down to fifth place but still only 22 seconds out of the race lead. Another miss on the final standing stage put Burke in sixth and he turned in a strong finish to lock him into his second-straight top-10 performance of the week. His final time of 33:59.1 was 31.3 seconds behind winner Simon Schempp of Germany.
"Today was a very exciting race for me and I am happy with my sixth place, but I also realize that this was a great opportunity for a podium," said Burke. "Once again, our technicians did a great job and that really allowed me to stay in podium contention until the finish."
Schempp won the men's pursuit despite three penalties in a time of 33:27.8. Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe, with one penalty, was second, 8.5 seconds back. Third place went to Germany's Erik Lesser, with two penalties, 15.7 seconds behind teammate Schempp.
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) had a great day on the shooting range, hitting 19 of 20 targets to finish 22nd in 35:33.8. Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) had five penalties on the shooting range to place 32nd in 36:15.5.
"I was happy with the shooting today," Bailey said. "It's a tough approach here and a lot more difficult than some of the other shooting ranges on the World Cup. We have been pretty lucky so far this week; normally Khanty is pretty windy. Let's hope for more calm conditions tomorrow."
Burke's performance puts him in 12th place in the final World Cup pursuit standings. In the overall World Cup rankings, Burke sits in 15th place and Bailey is in 17th with one event to go, Sunday's 15km mass start.
"I am really looking forward to tomorrow," added Burke. "I know my ski form is still there and my shooting has been solid, so anything is possible with a good race."
Earlier in the day the women's 10km pursuit was held with American Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) finishing 22nd with four penalties and a time of 32:19.9. Finland's Kaisa Makarainen captured the pursuit gold medal two days after winning the sprint. She recovered from single penalties in the first prone and first standing stages to finish in 30:06.7. France's Marie Dorin Habert, with one penalty, finished second, 1.5 seconds back. Italy's Dorothea Wierer matched Dorin Habert at the shooting range but finished third, 5.7 behind Makarainen.
Dunklee finishes 12th in the World Cup pursuit rankings and is currently 14th in the overall standings with tomorrow's mass start the only World Cup race left in the season.
"With the exception of one disappointing standing stage I am happy with how I raced," said Dunklee. "I am definitely tired, but still hungry to keep fighting until the end. We finish the World Cup season with the mass start tomorrow and I'm feeling inspired after watching Tim nail a couple top-6's."
The BMW IBU World Cup 9 concludes on Sunday with the men's and women's mass start events. The women's 12.5km race, featuring Dunklee, begins at 5:20 a.m. EDT, followed by the men's 15km event, with Burke and Bailey, at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Both races will be streamed live on Eurovision with English commentary by Chad Salmela.
Men's 12.5km pursuit results
|1.||Simon Schempp (GER)||33:27.8/+3|
|2.||Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR)||33:36.3/+1|
|3.||Erik Lesser (GER)||33:43.5/+2|
|6.||Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)||33:59.1/+2|
|22.||Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)||35:33.8/+1
|32.||Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)||36:15.5/+5|
Women's 10km pursuit results
|1.||Kaisa Makarainen (FIN)||30:06.7/+2|
|2.||Marie Dorin Habert (FRA)||30:08.2/+1|
|3.||Dorothea Wierer (ITA)||30:12.4/+1|
|22.||Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)||32:19.9/+4