? Thompson, a 1984 Olympian, grew up in Yellowstone National Park, where his parents worked as park rangers. "When we got snowed in, the only way to get around was on skis or snowmobiles," he remembers. A nationally ranked distance runner while at Western State College in Gunnison, he earned a degree there in biology. He has taught himself German and Norwegian and often speaks to Bjontegaard in his coach's native language. He is intense and something of an introvert.
?Carow was raised in Putney, Vt., home of cross-country skiing gurus Bill Koch and Tim and John Caldwell. When Carow was three, his mother taught him to ski. She also signed him up for piano lessons. A music major at Dartmouth, he played French horn with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
?Glen Eberle, 23, lives in McCall, Idaho. At Dartmouth he majored in history, with an emphasis on foreign policy. He's a woodworking fiend who crafted a guitar while in college. With a $5,000 U.S. Olympic Committee grant for equipment research, he designed the revolutionary lightweight wooden rifle stock the U.S. biathlon team uses.
?Raimond Dombrovskis, 24, is a Latvian immigrant who settled with his mother in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn in 1979. Back then he spoke little English, but by 1984 he was proficient enough to begin studying civil engineering at the University of Alaska. During the past two summers he biked and rode a motorcycle across America "to experience my newfound freedom."
Thompson's silver medal even brought smiles to the faces of some members of the foreign contingent. Ruger was out on the steepest hill on Thursday afternoon, at the 7-and 16-kilometer marks, barking out times and target information to passing U.S. skiers. Because the U.S. team didn't have a powerful radio—they still can't afford some things—Ruger got his numbers from two Soviets standing next to him. When Thompson finished second, Ruger and the Soviets embraced and exchanged high fives.
Thompson celebrated the silver on Thursday night by returning to Highland House, the U.S. team headquarters, and placing his medalist's bouquet of red carnations, blue irises and purple asters in a mayonnaise jar on the dining room table. "I know I won't be the only one to win a medal," said the U.S.'s first biathlon hero. "It might be tomorrow. It might be years from now. Or it might be the next Olympics. You can expect only good things from this team."