In his best performance in four years, U.S. Biathlon’s Tim Burke finished fourth in the men’s 10km sprint at the fourth World Cup of the season in Oberhof, Germany.
“It’s great to be back,” said Burke according to U.S. Biathlon. “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.”
A trip to the podium seemed possible for Burke until Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen took to the course 36 places behind Burke. Burke shot clean and crossed the finish line in third, 20.1 seconds behind the leader from France, Martin Fourcade. Svendsen chased down Burkes time, however, bumping him off the podium. Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bo finished in third.
Burke’s performance in Oberhof was his best since finishing third in a World Cup sprint in Oestersund, Sweden during the 2013-14 season.
Burke appears to be peaking at the right time. With the Olympics in PyeongChang set start in just over a month, Burke’s improvement in sprint races is evident. After opening the season with a 52nd place in Oestersund and a 73rd place in Hochfilzen, Burke turned in a 10th place finish in Annecy on December 15.
Burke pointed to his decision to stay in Europe over the holiday break as a possible reason for his recent success.
“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.”
Racing continues in Oberhof tomorrow beginning at 6:15 a.m. ET with the women’s 10km pursuit, followed by the men’s 12.5km pursuit, in which Burke will be in prime starting position to make a play for the podium.
In February, Burke will head to his fourth Olympic Winter Games, along with U.S. Biathlon teammates Lowell Bailey, Sean Doherty, Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan, with more athletes attempting to qualify for a trip to PyeongChang in the coming weeks in biathlon’s second-tier IBU Cup races.