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20TH WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES

Biathlon

February 10, 2006|Alan Abrahamson

MEN'S 20-KILOMETER INDIVIDUAL

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 11.

* Best of the U.S.: Jay Hakkinen of Kasilof, Alaska, finished 26th in this event at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City; Jeremy Teela of Anchorage finished 14th.

* Best of the rest: Michael Greis and Ricco Gross of Germany, Raphael Poiree of France, Tomasz Sikora of Poland.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the defending Olympic champion, finished atop the 2003 World Cup standings in every event except this one, finishing 30th.

*

WOMEN'S 15-KILOMETER INDIVIDUAL

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 13.

* Best of the U.S.: Rachel Steer of Anchorage.

* Best of the rest: Germany's Andrea Henkel, the defending Olympic and world champion, and Uschi Disl, who has two bronze medals in this event; Norway's 2002 Salt Lake City silver medalist Liv Grete Skjelbreid Poiree; Russia's Olga Pyleva; and Sweden's Anna Carin Oloffson.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: Five days after Poiree won silver in Salt Lake City, her husband, Raphael Poiree of France, won silver in the men's pursuit, making them the first husband and wife to win Olympic medals representing different countries.

*

MEN'S 10-KILOMETER SPRINT

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 14.

* Best of the U.S.: Hakkinen, the world junior sprint champion in 1997, finished 18th in the sprint at the 2005 world championships.

* Best of the rest: Two-time defending Olympic champion Bjoerndalen.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: The race requires each competitor to target-shoot 10 times, five prone, five standing. Bjoerndalen shot clean in 1998 in Nagano, then did it again in Salt Lake City in 2002.

*

WOMEN'S 7.5-KILOMETER SPRINT

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 16.

* Best of the U.S.: Steer was 23rd at the 2005 world championships.

* Best of the rest: 2002 Salt Lake City gold medalist Kati Wilhelm of Germany, who won two golds and two silvers through the first five World Cup races this season, and teammate Disl, who won the sprint at the 2005 world championships.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: Disl, nicknamed Turbo by the German press, comes to Turin with eight Olympic medals, having won at least one at each of the previous four Games.

*

MEN'S 12.5-KILOMETER PURSUIT

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 18.

* Best of the U.S.: Hakkinen finished 13th in the pursuit at the 2002 Games, the all-time best finish by a U.S. athlete in a non-relay event.

* Best of the rest: 2002 Olympic champion Bjoerndalen and Salt Lake silver medalist Poiree stand out.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: Bjoerndalen won four gold medals in 2002 in Salt Lake City and one in 1998 in Nagano.

*

WOMEN'S 10-KILOMETER PURSUIT

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 18.

* Best of the U.S.: Steer was 17th at the 2005 world championships.

* Best of the rest: Wilhelm and Disl of Germany, Olga Zaitseva of Russia, Sandrine Bailly of France and Liu Xianying of China, the silver medalist at the 2005 world championships.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: No Asian nation has won an Olympic biathlon medal.

*

MEN'S 4X7.5-KILOMETER RELAY

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 21.

* Best of the U.S.: The U.S. has never won an Olympic medal in this or any biathlon event. The U.S. team's best was sixth in the relay in 1972 in Sapporo. The Americans finished 15th in Salt Lake City in 2002.

* Best of the rest: Norway, Germany, Russia.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: This is the fourth event of the Games for Bjoerndalen, gold medalist in all four biathlon events in Salt Lake City in 2002. Should he win in the first three events in Turin, and then again in the relay, he will join swimming's Mark Spitz (U.S.) and track's Paavo Nurmi (Finland) and Carl Lewis (U.S.) as nine-time gold medalists.

*

WOMEN'S 4X6-KILOMETER RELAY

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 23.

* Best of the U.S.: The U.S. women finished 16th at the 2005 world championships.

* Best of the rest: Russia, Germany, Belarus, France.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: Sarah Konrad of Laramie, Wyo., who at 38 will compete in cross-country skiing and biathlon at the Turin Games, has a doctorate in geology, specializing in the study of how glaciers move.

*

MEN'S 15-KILOMETER MASS START

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 25.

* Best of U.S.: Hakkinen, who will be competing in his third Winter Games.

* Best of the rest: Who else? Bjoerndalen, who won the last 15-kilometer mass start before the 2006 Games, a World Cup event Jan. 22 at Anterselva, Italy, by more than a minute. This is the first time the 15-kilometer event will be contested at the Olympics.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: If Bjoerndalen wins a gold medal in his first four events, then wins this one, he will become the first Olympic athlete, winter or summer, to win 10 gold medals.

*

WOMEN'S 12.5-KILOMETER MASS START

* Where: Cesana San Sicario.

* When: Feb. 25.

* Best of the U.S.: Steer was 27th in the 2004-05 World Cup standings.

* Best of the rest: Russia's Olga Zaitseva and Olga Pyleva, Germany's Wilhelm and Norway's Gro Marit Istad-Kristiansen and Poiree.

* U.S. chances to medal: Highly unlikely.

* Little-known fact: This event makes its debut at the 2006 Turin Games.

-- Alan Abrahamson

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