German double in 7.5K sprintPosted: Wednesday February 13, 2002 4:50 PM
Updated: Wednesday February 13, 2002 6:53 PM
MIDWAY, Utah (AP) -- Helped by what she called the best shooting day of her life, Germany's Kati Wilhelm charged to an early lead and held on to win the gold medal in the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint Wednesday.
Wilhelm was precise in her shooting, making 10-of-10 on the Soldier Hollow target range and finishing with a time of 20 minutes, 41.4 seconds. Teammate Uschi Disl, the most decorated female biathlete in Olympic history with seven medals, finished 36.4 seconds back to take the silver.
"It was wonderful to shoot without any mistakes in such a great competition, and I'm very happy about that," said Wilhelm, who was overshadowed by her more accomplished teammates until winning gold in the sprint at last year's world championships.
Disl could have made the race a lot closer if she hadn't missed her final target, forcing her to head to the penalty loop before entering the final lap.
Sweden's Magdalena Forsberg, the sport's dominant woman for the past five years, needed a furious finish to win her second bronze of the games. Forsberg edged Norwegian Liv Grete Skjelbreid-Poiree by 2.7 seconds.
Forsberg, who missed a shot early and was sixth entering the final lap, slumped to the snow after charging across the line.
"I thought the chance of a medal was gone when I missed a shot there," said Forsberg, who had not won an Olympic medal before Salt Lake.
Poiree, whose husband Raphael Poiree shot poorly in the 10-kilometer race earlier in the day and finished ninth, made all five of her shots at the first station, from a prone position. But her third shot of the final round, while standing, was a fraction of an inch off to the top of the black, circular target.
Germany has won both women's biathlon golds at Soldier Hollow. Andrea Henkel, who won Monday's 15K race, slumped to 25th on Wednesday, taking herself out of contention with a miss at the first station, then another on her final shot. The fourth German in the race, Katrin Apel, took 12th.
The Americans struggled, with Kara Salmela finishing 49th, Andrea Nahrgang 50th and Rachel Steer 60th.
It would have taken a sensational performance to beat Wilhelm, who built a 26.3-second lead after her second clean shooting session. With the No. 18 bib number, she had to wait nearly 10 minutes in the finish area before Disl came across.
"I wanted to start early, because I usually don't get nervous
very easily, but I wanted to make my competition nervous with a
good result," Wilhelm said.