Hakkinen moves closer to Olympic berth

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

Kasilof's Jay Hakkinen, 24, took a big step toward earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team Wednesday in Heber City, Utah.

Hakkinen, a 1998 Olympian, won a 12.5-kilometer pursuit format race in the third of four days of racing at the Olympic Trials. Athletes are graded on their top three races at the trials, and the top four get to compete for the United States in Salt Lake City.

After Wednesday's victory, Hakkinen is in the top four on the points list. The trials conclude with sprint competitions today. The Olympic team will be announced after those races.

Hakkinen was able to win Wednesday despite five misses on the shooting range. He made up for the lapse in marksmanship with smoking skiing.

"I liked the way my skis were feeling today in warmups," Hakkinen said in a press release. "I felt good about my shooting also, but had a little bit of trouble on the range.

"There were a lot of people in front of me to work off of and that kept me attacking the course."

Hakkinen's solid skiing enabled him to finish five seconds in front of runner-up Dan Westover of Jericho, Vt. Westover had just three misses on the shooting range.

Hakkinen, Westover, Anchorage's Jeremy Teela and Lawton Redman sat at the top of the points standings after three races.

Hakkinen started his trials by finishing sixth in a 20-kilometer race Saturday, then improved to third in a 10-kilometer race Sunday.

In addition to Hakkinen and Teela, Anchorage's Rachel Steer looked to be a solid bet to make the Olympic biathlon team and give Alaska even more representation.

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