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WINTER OLYMPICS : Biathlon : Soviets Win Relay; U.S. Finishes 9th

February 27, 1988|From Times Wire Services

CANMORE, Canada — The Soviet Union won the 30-kilometer biathlon relay for a record sixth straight Olympics Friday, and a gold at last for two-time silver medalist Valeri Medvedtsev.

Medvedtsev, 23, anchored the Soviets as they bested West Germany by 1 minute 7.4 seconds in the sport that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. Their winning time was 1 hour 22.3 seconds.

Italy, led by individual World Cup leader Johan Passler, finished third, 1:21.5 behind. Passler also won a bronze in the 20K individual race.

With the gold, Medvedtsev, who won silver medals in the individual 20K and 10K races, became the only triple medalist in the biathlon events.

The United States finished ninth of the 16 teams that completed the relay, and five-time Olympic veteran Lyle Nelson, one of two Americans who missed a shot and had to ski a 150-meter penalty loop, blamed himself.

"I probably kept us off the medal podium today," said the 39-year-old from Essex, Vt., competing in his final Olympics. "This is my last one and I let myself down a lot. . . . I feel I've let the team and the coaches down."

The other U.S. biathlete to miss a shot was Josh Thompson of Gunnison, Colo., whose silver in the 20K in last year's World Championships was the first American medal in the history of the sport.

In the earlier individual events, Thompson finished a disappointing 25th and 27th.

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