First American to Wear World Cup Leader's Bib
Tim Burke, one of America’s top biathletes, has retired following a career that spanned two decades at the sport’s highest level. Burke achieved spectacular results, shared his wisdom with younger teammates and, in 2009, rewrote the history books. Fortunately, the 36-year-old will be staying on in the sport by assuming a new role as athlete-development manager for the US Biathlon Association.
Burke took up biathlon as a young teen, which combined his enjoyment of shooting and skiing. He grew up near Lake Placid in the town of Paul Smiths, N.Y., and competed in his first Junior World Biathlon Championships in the year 2000, representing the U.S. for the next four years, competing as well at the 2003 Junior Biathlon Worlds.
The next season was an uncertain time for Burke, as he developed severe hip problems that almost ended his career, but the American battled back to earn his first IBU World Cup start in Ruhpolding, Germany during the 2003-04 season. That year, he also qualified for the Biathlon World Championship team, which would be the first of 11 appearances.
The four-time Olympian made his debut at Torino 2006, and during the following winter, he earned his first World Cup points in the 20km race at the season-opener in Oestersund, Sweden. He also scored his first top-10 finish in a World Cup that year with a sixth in Slovenia.
The New York native made history in December 2009 by being the first American to capture the overall lead in the World Cup and earn the yellow leader’s bib. He did so with top results at the opening World Cup in Oestersund, followed by consistent finishes at the races that followed. The next year, Burke made his second Olympic appearance, this time at Vancouver 2010.
The 2012-13 season held more career highlights for Burke. He earned a silver medal in the 20km Individual race, breaking a long Biathlon World Championship medal drought for the American men. He also achieved his best World Cup season ranking, finishing 10th overall.
Burke made his final Olympic appearance at the Pyeongchang 2018 Games, where he captured his best-ever Individual Olympic performance, finishing 17th in the Pursuit. He was also part of the U.S. men’s relay team that finished the 2018 Games on a high note with its sixth- place finish in the 4x7.5km relay, matching the team’s result at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
The final race of Burke's career was at the 2018 U.S. Nationals in Park City, Utah, where he crossed his final finish line with longtime teammate Lowell Bailey, who also retired. Burke now takes on a new role at the US Biathlon Association as athlete-development manager to assist developing biathletes across the U.S.A. and help them jump to the next level.
Tim Burke became the first American to capture the overall World Cup yellow leader's bib at Pokljuka, Slovenia in 2009.