- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

From combined dispatches
MIDWAY, Utah Calmly hitting all 10 of his targets, Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen coasted to the gold medal in the 10-kilometer sprint yesterday, winning his second gold of the Games and becoming the first biathlete to win three in a career.
"Before the start, I was a little bit afraid because I went so late with the start number today," said Bjoerndalen, who was the last top contender to begin the Soldier Hollow Course. "For me, it was a little bit tough for my head. But I [did] my race, and it was OK."
Bjoerndalen, who also won Monday's 20-kilometer race by making 18 of 20 shots, finished in 24 minutes, 51.3 seconds 28.9 seconds ahead of Germany's Sven Fischer, who missed once. Austria's Wolfgang Perner was a surprising bronze winner, shooting cleanly to finish 53.1 seconds back.
Bjoerndalen, who earlier defended the 15-kilomenter title he won in Nagano, now has four medals including one silver in the last two Olympics. He will race in Saturday's 12.5-kilometer pursuit with a chance to get a third gold in these games.
"For me, it's not important if I make one more gold or one less," Bjoerndalen said. "For me, it's more important to make every time that I race a perfect race, and if I'm good enough to win, I win. But if some other guy is better than me that day, I will be satisfied."
Jeremy Teela, a surprising 14th in Monday's race, was the top American yesterday, taking 20th. The best American finish ever in the event was 19th, by Lyle Nelson in 1980. Jay Hakkinen was 26th, and Lawton Redman 54th.
"Based on what happened Monday and today, these are our best results ever," said Jerry Kokesh, the United States Biathlon Association development director.
Not only did Bjoerndalen have a steady trigger finger, he's an exceptionally strong skier, finishing sixth in the 30-kilometer Nordic race earlier this week.
After quickly dispatching his final five targets, Bjoerndalen had a 30.6-second lead over Fischer entering the final lap. He took it easy the rest of the way.
"There's not many like this race you have in your life," he said.
Bjoerndalen's ability to ski fast, then slow down his heart rate enough to aim perfectly, didn't give the rest of the pack much of a chance, particularly when many of his rivals faltered badly.
Raphael Poiree, bidding to become the first Frenchman to win a biathlon individual medal, made the first five shots with his .22-caliber rifle and was the fastest skier after the first stage. But then he missed the first and fifth target on the final round, falling to ninth.
Canadian women win big
Defending silver medalist Canada, paced by two goals from Danielle Goyette, defeated Russia 7-0 for its second straight Olympic victory.
The loss dropped the Russians to 0-2, making their chances for a medal precarious at best. The Canadians dominated from start to finish, with a half-dozen players scoring.
In other women's action, Erika Holst had two goals and two assists as undefeated Sweden clinched a spot in the medal round with a 7-0 victory over Kazakstan.
Sweden (2-0) scored twice in the first three minutes. The loss was the second straight for Kazakstan, which also lost its shot at a medal.
In men's play, Sweden already eliminated from the final round and with two of their players suspended for breaking curfew defeated Belarus 2-1.
Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann scored the go-ahead goal at 9:11 of the second period against Belarus (2-1), already assured a spot in the round of eight.
German wins sprint
MIDWAY, Utah Helped by what she called the best shooting day of her life, Germany's Kati Wilhelm charged to an early lead and held on to win the gold medal in the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint.
Wilhelm was precise in her shooting, making 10 of 10 on the Soldier Hollow target range and finishing with a time of 20 minutes, 41.4 seconds. Teammate Uschi Disl, the most decorated female biathlete in Olympic history with seven medals, finished 36.4 seconds back to take the silver.
Sweden's Magdalena Forsberg, the sport's dominant woman for the past five years, needed a furious finish to win her second bronze of the games.
U.S. curlers lose twice
OGDEN, Utah American curlers lost two matches in the Olympic tournament, with the women losing to defending gold medalist Canada 6-4 and Germany beating the U.S. men 9-8 in an extra end.
The men and women compete in separate 10-team round-robin tournaments, with the top four finishers advancing to medal rounds next week.
The U.S. men fell to 1-2 and was to face Norway late last night. Germany moved to the top of the men's standings at 3-0.
In other men's games, Sweden topped Denmark 9-5, Finland beat Switzerland 6-5 and Norway defeated Britain 7-6.
In other women's matches, Denmark beat Sweden 11-9, Switzerland defeated Norway 7-5 and Germany beat Japan 5-3.


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