Norwegians dominate World Cup biathlon

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2001

MIDWAY, Utah (AP) -- Ole Einar Bjoerndalen came back Friday to lead Norway to a top-two sweep in a 10-kilometer sprint event just two days after he won a 20-kilometer biathlon. Two Alaskans were the top American finishers, but they were far behind the leaders.

Bjoerndalen, proclaiming the track to be used in next year's Salt Lake Olympics the world's best, missed just one of his 10 shots while covering the rolling Soldier Hollow course in 22 minutes, 40.8 seconds.

''I like this track,'' said Bjoerndalen, the gold medalist in the 10-kilometer sprint at the Nagano Games in 1998.

Teammate Frode Andresen, the field's strongest skier, would have won gold had he not missed two targets. The resulting penalties forced him to ski an extra 300 yards, and he wound up 12.6 seconds behind Bjoerndalen.

The bronze went to Germany's Frank Luck, winner of the first biathlon world championship gold medal when it was awarded in 1989. He was 32.7 seconds behind.

Despite praising the track, both Norwegians thought it too fast, a condition that favors strong shooters who are weak skiers. It allows them to stay within striking distance of stronger skiers who might not be keen marksmen.

It's not a big advantage to be a fast skier, said Andresen. The big advantage is shooting.

Near-perfect conditions greeted the skiers. Overhead was a mostly clear sky, and a lack of wind took the guesswork out of the shooting.

Although the American team had a slight advantage over the Europeans because they've trained in Utah's high altitude and have experience with the course, the highest finisher was Jay Hakkinen of Kasilof, Alaska, 33rd of the 91 competitors. Fellow Alaskan Jeremy Teela of Anchorage was the next American, finishing 47th.

World Cup leader Raphael Poiree of France finished fifth, 37.7 seconds behind Bjoerndalen. Poiree holds a commanding lead in the standings with 802 points to Bjoerndalen's 683 with six events remaining.

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