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Russian Wins 7.5-Kilometer Biathlon

By Denis D. Gray
Associated Press
Sunday, February 15, 1998; 12:45 a.m. EST

NOZAWA ONSEN, Japan — Russia's Galina Koukleva, the world's No. 2 woman biathlete, captured the 7.5-kilometer race at the Winter Olympics Sunday, skimming across the finish line seven-tenths of a second ahead of Germany's Ursula Disl.

The bronze went to Disl's teammate Katrin Apel. Each of the medalists missed one of their 10 targets in a race under cloudy skies but without the snowfall that plagued earlier events.

Koukleva, a 25-year-old sport instructor, finished in a time of 23 minutes, 8 seconds, and Disl took her second medal of the Nagano Games in 23:08.7. Apel was clocked at 23:32.4.

The race was fast, despite an icy glaze over snow that fell overnight and stopped about three hours before the event. There was virtually no wind. Rapidly changing snow conditions had slowed down earlier races and produced darkhorse winners.

But on Sunday, the medalists all ranked among the top 10 in World Cup standings. Germany and Russia, along with Norway, are the current biathlon powerhouses.

Shooting was also superior to that in the two earlier biathlon events, with eight competitors hitting all their targets. Biathletes in this even must ski a 150-meter penalty loop for each shot missed.

The best American finisher, Kristina Sabasteanski of Richmond, Vt., was 33rd at 25:12.2, missing only once. Deborah Nordyke, of Anchorage, Alaska, skied in at 48th in 25:50.5, and Stacey Wooley of Newbury, N.H., was 58th at 27:03.

Disl, ranked third in world, took the bronze in the 15K last Monday. The 27-year-old police border guard won a bronze and silver at the last games in Lillehammer.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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