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Norway 1-2 in 10K Biathlon

By Denis D. Gray
Associated Press
Wednesday, February 18, 1998; 1:30 a.m.

NOZAWA ONSEN, Japan — Not even a snowstorm could keep Ole Einar Bjorndalen from becoming an Olympic champion.

The Norwegian star picked up where he left off 24 hours before, winning the men's 10-kilometer biathlon Wednesday (Tuesday night EST) with flawless shooting and superb skiing in a race that was restarted after a snow postponement the previous day.

Bjorndalen led the race when it was halted in the first weather-related postponement of an Olympic biathlon in 26 years. He was upset, but not for long.

"I was really angry,'' he said. "But five minutes later I was ready for the new race.''

Taking extra care with each of his shots, the 24-year-old Bjorndalen hit all 10 targets and, with technically excellent skiing, finished in 27 minutes, 16.2 seconds.

"I had perfect skiing and the best shooting I've ever done,'' said Bjorndalen, who grew up in a small town where soccer and biathlon were the only sports.

The silver went to teammate Frode Andresen, while a third Scandinavian, Ville Raikkonen of Finland took the bronze.

Andresen was timed at 28:17.8, having to overcome two penalty shots, while Raikkonen missed one target and crossed the finish line in 28:21.7. The restart was a relief for Andresen, who missed four shots on his first time at the range Tuesday.

"I was saved by the bell,'' he said. "It was a new chance for me.''

The race was held under cloudy skies but with no snow and a very light wind, a sharp contrast to the roiling fog and heavy snow that forced officials to stop the 10K Tuesday after 16 competitors had finished. The entire race was rescheduled, a move not made in an Olympic biathlon in 26 years.

Biathlon was born in Norway 221 years ago and Bjorndalen's victory pushed the nation back to the top of the sport, with two gold medals compared with one apiece for Russia and Germany, the recent powers.

Dan Westover of Colchester, Vt., finished 49th in a field of 71, while Jay Hakkinen of Kasilof, Alaska, was 60th. Westover missed only once for a finish time of 30:39.5, while Hakkinen failed to hit three targets and was clocked at 31:31.6.

Eight of the competitors shot perfect scores, including Russian's Victor Maigourov, ranked No. 3 in World Cup standings after Bjorndalen. The world's No. 1, Ricco Gross of Germany, has not fared well at these games, finishing 17th in the sprint and sixth in the earlier 20K.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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