Biathlon in Oberhof - Mens Relay Preview
Oberhof, Germany. The American Team Head Coach, Per Nilsson, is looking forward to seeing his squad of men back on the Biathlon World Cup circuit after the holiday break. "We had some sickness with a couple of the men in December, but they got in some good training over the break and seem to be back in form now. The whole team got a good mental break and have come back very focused."
Oberhof is widely known for having the largest crowds of any venue on the World Cup and over 25,000 are expected for the mens relay on Thursday. The event has been sold out for months and Nilsson said they have even added more space for spectators along the course. "It is the only venue in the world where we have spectators on the downhills" Nilsson added. "The crowd is so enthusiastic that it can be deafening and there is no place to hide out there. With the team we really emphasized the need two have two personalities - to make a deliberate transition coming into the stadium and arrive at the range ready to be a marksman."
"The snow conditions in Oberhof are excellent this year," said High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. Oberhof has always managed to hold their annual World Cup but sometimes fog and rain have made holding the event a Herculean effort. For example, a couple of years ago, they trucked in crushed ice from 300 miles away to make the course skiable. "The course is firm and the temperatures are -10 c (14 F) and our ski techs are hard at work finding the best combinations of base structure and wax for each of the athletes." Every athlete on the World Cup depends on their team of hard working technicians to meet him at the start area with a fast pair of skis.
For the 4 x 7.5 km relay the American team will have start number 14 and "will go with the same order we ran with at the World Championships in 2008" said coach Nilsson: Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Tim Burke (Lake Placid, NY) and Jeremy Teela (Heber, UT). There are 21 teams entered and so far this season, the Russians and Austrians have split the victories. However, the home course advantage counts for a lot in biathlon, so maybe the as-yet struggling German men will find the targets and give the home crowd something to roar about. Start List
Follow all the action of this and every Biathlon World Cup online with live streaming video of the race Thursday stating at 11:20 AM Eastern Time. Competitions continue through the weekend with the womens 7.5 km Sprint on Friday at 11:30 AM Eastern, the mens 10 km Sprint is Saturday at 11:20 AM Eastern and the womens and mens Mass Starts on Sunday at 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern respectively.