Björndalen in Dominating Mass Start Win
|10.01.2010, Oberhof / Jerry Kokesh|
|Takes Control in Standing Stages|
|Ole Einar Björndalen won the Men’s 15K Mass Start competition today in the dominating style that is unique to him, taking the lead at a crucial point and then leaving the field gasping for their breath. He missed only one prone shot, cleaned both standing stages, and then pulled away from the field for a 37:12.7 win.
Burke, Sikora Follow
Second went to Tim Burke of the USA, who missed single shots in the second prone and first standing stages. Burke finished 1:02.9 behind Björndalen. Burke was 37.7 seconds ahead of third place Tomasz Sikora of Poland in his best result of the year, despite three penalties.
Both fourth place Evegeny Ustyugov of Russia and fifth place Arnd Peiffer of Germany had five penalties, finishing 1:49.2 and 1:55.9 back, respectively. Similarly, sixth place Alexander Os of Norway and seventh place Simon Fourcade of France had four penalties each, finishing 2:03.9 and 2:04.4 back. Eighth went to Nicolay Kruglov of Russia, with two penalties, 2:07.2 back.
Björndalen Takes Over
Björndalen took the early lead with a clean first prone stage. Coming into the second prone, seventeen men were still in contention. Björndalen then missed his only shot of the day and teammate Lars Berger cleaned to take the lead. From the start, fog had rolled across the shooting range in varying degrees of density. As the group came into for the first standing stage, the fog was moderately impairing, with many competitors missing several targets. However, Björndalen seemed unfazed and dropped the five targets rapidly, leaving the field on the shooting range. Sikora missed a shot, but was in second position. Björndalen continued to ski had and pull away from the field. He shot calmly but fast in the final stage and sealed his convincing victory with a margin of more than a minute. At the same time, Sikora missed two shots and Burke cleaned, putting the US biathlete safely in second position. When Burke hit the final shot, US Coach Armin Auchentaler turned from the scope and enthusiastically high-fived Coach Per Nilsson. Auchentaler called Burke’s performance, “World class!” The veteran Sikora despite the two penalty loops was able to maintain third place over the final 3K loop.
Burke admitted that he used a lot of strategy today, staying close to the leaders but not jumping to the front. “In these kinds of competitions, strategy is important. I stayed back, skiing behind a group, just relaxing in the early parts.”
Really Difficult Shooting Conditions
Björndalen may have dominated the field today, but he admitted that shooting in the fog was very hard. “It was really difficult, because with the fog, you could not absolutely see the target. The outline was never clear. The first prone I could not see very much and the same for the second prone, when I missed that shot. I did not have good feelings about the final shots in the last stage either, but I had a little luck and they went down.”
One Shot at a Time
Burke, who equaled his personal best from last month in Östersund, with second place agreed with Björndalen about the shooting conditions. “It was super rough on that final standing stage. I think that it helped that I trained here in the fog several times over the past three weeks. I had some idea of what you need to do in these conditions. I slowed down my cadence a little bit and some others did not. I was taking it shot to shot. It would have been very easy to shoot normally and suddenly have three penalties, so I just shot one shot at a time. Armin talked to me about the strategy in these types of competitions; that you cannot always use your normal cadence. You have to fight for every hit, because every hit means a lot.”
With his second place today, Burke takes the Yellow Bib again as the Overall World Cup leader. Evgeny Ustyugov who wore it today is now three points behind Burke, while Björndalen moves into fifth position, 74 points back.
Who is Buying Dinner?
Burke’s girlfriend, Andrea Henkel earlier won the Women’s Mass Start. As he left the press conference, he commented, “I think Andrea is buying dinner tonight, since she beat me and won more prize money!”