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    Thursday, February 19, 1998

    Germans win women's 30K relay

     NOZAWA ONSEN, Japan (AP) -- Ursula Disl overcame slippery fingers and poor aim to lead Germany to a vengeful victory Thursday in the women's 30-kilometer relay and become the most successful biathlete in Olympic history.
     It was not easy for Disl to win her first gold medal and sixth overall. In fact, she almost cost her team any chance of victory when she dropped a ski pole and then needed five extra shots in the leadoff leg.
     But she was third by the end of the leg and Germany then overtook Slovakia and pulled away from archrival Russia to win in 1 hour, 40 minutes, 13.6 seconds.
     The victory gave the Germans revenge for a record 3:57 loss to Russia in the ame event four years ago. The Russians this time finished in 1:40:25.2.
     Norway, which has dominated the men's events, took the bronze in 1:40:37.3 with superb shooting.
     On the last leg, Petra Behle looked back just before the end, grabbed a German flag and skied over the finish line as Russia's Olga Romasko struggled home.
     The race ended Disl's elusive chase after a gold medal, one she missed by seven-tenths of a second in the earlier 7.5K sprint, and by almost equally close margins in the last two Olympics.
     After recouping lost time by the first exchange, Disl handed off to Katrin Apel, who shot cleanly on her first time at the range and surged ahead of Slovakia's Tatiana Kutlikova. The Germans were never headed.
     The six medals -- one in Albertville, two in Lillehammer and three in Nagano -- moved Disl ahead of Aleksandr Tikhanov of the Soviet Union, who won four golds and a silver in four Winter Games.
     Slovakia finished fourth. The United States was 15th among the 17 starters.
     The Germans had to make up on the course what they lost on the range. They took 11 extra shots to nine for Russia and 10 for Norway.
     In the relay, each skier has eight shots to make five hits during the two times at the range. Only five rounds can be loaded into the magazine. The three extra have to be loaded one at a time, adding precious seconds.
     Anchored by Kristina Sabasteanski of Richmond, Vt., the American team finished in 1:48:30.2, well behind their eighth-place effort in illehammer.
     Skiing the first leg was Ntala Skinner of Sun Valley, Idaho, followed by Stacey Wooley of Newbury, N.H., and Kara Salmela of Richmond.
     In contrast to heavy snow and fog that halted one race and marred another, Thursday's relay was raced under clear blue skies and brought out 6,500 spectators. Only a few hundred have attended some events.
     But the track was far from ideal, slushy in some parts and icy in others. Japanese and Chinese skier tumbled trying to make it around a steep curve.


     NOZAWA ONSEN, Japan (AP) -- Final results Thursday from the women's 4X7.5km biathlon medal event at the Winter Olympics (penalties in parentheses):
     1, Germany (Ursula Disl, Martina Zellner, Katrin Apel, Petra Behle), 1 hour, 40 minutes, 13.6 seconds (0).
     2, Russia (Olga Melnik, Galina Kukleva, Albina Akhatova, Olga Romasko), 1:40:25.2 (0).
     3, Norway (Ann-Elen Skjelbreid, Annette Sikveland, Gunn Andreassen, Liv Skjelbreid), 1:40:37.3 (2).
     4, Slovakia (Martina Schwarzbacherova, Anna Murinova, Tatiana Kutlikova, Sona Mihokova), 1:41:20.6 (2).
     5, Ukraine (Valentina Tserbe-Nessina, Elena Petrova, Tatiana Vodopianova, Elena Zubrilova), 1:42:32.6 (0).
     6, Czech Republic (Katerina Losmanova, Irena Cesnekova, Jirina Pelcova, Eva Hakova), 1:43:20.5 (0).
     7, China (Yu Shumei, Sun Ribo, Liu Jinfeng, Liu Xianying), 1:43:32.6 (1).
     8, France (Christelle Gros, Emmanuelle Claret, Florence Baverel, Corinne Niogret), 1:43:54.6 (0).
     9, Slovenia (Lucija Larisi, Andreja Grasic, Matejka Mohoric, Tadeja Brankovic), 1:44:18.8 (3).
     10, Sweden (Maria Schylander, Magdalena Forsberg, Kristina Brouneus, Eva-Karin Westin), 1:44:50.8 (0).
     11, Kazakstan (Inna Sheshkil, Margarita Doulova, Yelena Dubok, Liodmila Gourieva), 1:45:22.9 (2).
     12, Belarus (Irina Tananaiko, Natalya Ryzhenkova, Natalya Moroz, Svetlana Paramygina), 1:45:24.0 (0).
     13, Poland (Agata Suszka, Halina Piton, Iwona Daniluk, Anna Stera), 1:45:45.5 (2).
     14, Japan (Mami Homma, Hiromi Seino, Mie Takeda, Ryoko Takahashi), 1:46:23.0 (1).
     15, United States (Ntala Skinner, Sun Valley, Idaho; Stacey Wooley, Newbury, N.H.; Kara Salmela, Golden Valley, Minn.; Kristina Sabasteanski, Richmond, Vt.), 1:48:30.2 (1).
     16, Bulgaria (Radka Popova, Ekaterina Dafovska, Pavlina Filipova, Valentina Peytchinova), 1:48:55.2 (3).
     17, Canada (Kristin Berg, Myriam Bedard, Nicole Keddie, Michelle Collard), 1:53:15.0 (3).