Burke starts 2018 with best performance in four years

By Bill Kellick | Jan. 05, 2018, 4:33 p.m. (ET)

OBERHOF, Germany (January 5, 2018) – With just over one month until the flame is lit for the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) served notice Friday that he is a serious medal contender. Burke turned in his best performance in four years with a fourth-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint at the BMW IBU World Cup 4 in Oberhof.

“It’s great to be back,” said Burke. “Last year was a really tough year for me. I had to end my season early, so to come back here with a strong result means a lot to me.”

Shooting clean on all 10 targets, Burke crossed the line in third place, 20.1 seconds behind leader Martin Fourcade of France. For a while, it looked like Burke would mount the podium until Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, starting 36 places after Burke, slipped into second place, knocking Burke back to fourth. It marked Burke’s best finish in an individual world cup race since a third-place finish in the sprint in Oestersund, Sweden, during the 2013/14 season.

Burke’s decision to stay in Europe over the recent holiday break seemed to pay off for him today.

“I decided not to go back to the U.S. for this break, so I spent the break in Saalfeld, Austria, training and it seems like probably that was the right decision.”

The strong wind of Thursday dropped off for the men’s sprint, but was still strong enough that clean prone shooting was at a premium. With temperatures above the freezing mark and a light drizzle falling, the snow remained soft, deep and slow.

“I felt pretty good in the range today,” added Burke. “I feel like the wind was doable -- you could hit. I’ve spent a lot of time training here so I was used to it and had a good game plan for today. The rain was tough. You’re wet immediately, but I think they did a great job today preparing the tracks. The hills were totally fine, they were firm, so it was as good as we could hope for in conditions like today."

Fourcade shot clean in winning the sprint in 25:03.3. Second place went to Svendsen, also shooting clean, 8.1 seconds back, while Svendsen’s teammate, Johannes Thingnes Boe, placed third with two penalties, 10.2 seconds behind Fourcade. Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) placed 84th.

Next up for Burke is the men’s 12.5 km pursuit on Saturday, where he will again be in the hunt for a medal starting fourth off the line, 20 seconds behind Fourcade. Live streaming coverage can be seen at 9:00 a.m. EST on the Olympic Channel website.

A replay of today race will be aired on the Olympic Channel at noon Eastern, as well as on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Men’s 10 km sprint results

1.

Martin Fourcade (FRA)

25:03.3/+0

2.

Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)

+8.1/+0

3.

Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR)

+10.2/+2

4.

Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)

+20.1/+0

84.

Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)

+3:24.4/+4