FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jerry Kokesh
US Biathlon Association
29 Ethan Allen Avenue
Colchester, Vermont 05446
February 11, 2002
Teela Equals Best Ever US Olympic Biathlon Finish
Jeremy Teela of Anchorage, AK, equaled the best finish ever by an American in an Olympic Biathlon competition today at the Soldier Hollow Olympic Biathlon Venue.
Teela's 14th place is the best of the modern biathlon. The previous 14th place finishes by John Burritt in 1960 and Peter Karns in 1972 were in an era of classic skiing and large-bore rifle shooting. This result by the 25 year old Alaskan is a high water mark for US Biathlon program. Teela, normally a good shooter and a great skier, put both pieces together as he hit 18 of the 20 targets in the competition. He started by missing 1 target on both the first prone and standing stages. All the time, he was skiing strongly. On the final 2 shooting stages, he was perfect, giving him a personal best in the Individual competition. At the finish, Teela was 3:12.8 behind the Gold Medal performance of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway.
Commenting on his race as he slumped at the finish, Teela gushed,"My skis were so fast--stupid fast! The wax guys did such a great job that I could not have asked for better. As for my shooting, what can you say, I shot 18, and of course, you always want better. But it was great. I did not feel so great before the race today, but I am sure glad that I raced."
Teela's teammate, fellow Alaskan Jay Hakkinen, was almost lost in the excitement over Teela's result. Hakkinen placed 26th, with just 3 penalties, 1:15.2 behind Teela. The US Olympic Biathlon team has not had 2 top 30 finishes since 1988, when Josh Thompson and Lyle Nelson were 27th and 30th. Hakkinen skied just a few seconds slower than Teela, but missed 1 more target.
The final US Olympic Biathlete to compete today was Dan Campbell of Hastings, MN. He recorded 6 penalties to finish 76th, 9:33.5 behind the winner.
Commenting on the success of his 2 Alaskans, US Coach Algis Shgalna commented, "I still cannot believe this. Jeremy cleaning the final 2 stages is incredible! He is a talent and I am very proud of him and Jay."
In the women's competition, Rachel Steer, of Anchorage, AK, maintained her position as the top US biathlete by placing 31st in the Women's 15K Individual. Steer used her usual strong shooting, recording only 2 penalties, to top her other teammates. This result puts her in 3rd position on the US list in Olympic Winter Games history in this event. Steer's time of 51:59.3 left her 4:21.5 behind the Gold Medallist Andrea Henkel of Germany. Henkel missed only 1 shot in the competition.
The young Alaskan missed 1 shot in both the first prone and standing stages. From that point on, she was perfect at the shooting range. Unlike Steer, teammates Kristina Sabasteanski, of Standish, ME and Kara Salmela, of Duluth, MN both had tough days on the range. The 2 US women had promising starts, with Salmela matching Steer in the first 2 shooting bouts, and Sabasteanski dropping only 1 shot. From that point, the 2 Americans slipped as Sabasteanski missed 3 of the last 10, and Salmela missed 6 of 10.
The 2 veterans of the Nagano Games in 1998 finished in the lower half of the field of 70. Sabasteanski finished 55th. Although Salmela was skiing well, she finished 3 spots behind her Nagano finish of 56th in 59th position. Her 8 penalties left her 9:56.8 out of the top spot.
The US Biathlon Team competes under the auspices of the US Biathlon Association, the National Governing Body for the Olympic Sport of Biathlon. LL Bean, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Federal Cartridge, and Exel Ski Poles sponsor the US Biathlon Team.