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    Wednesday, February 11, 1998

    Hanevold collapses, but wins gold

     NOZAWA ONSEN, Japan (AP) -- Italy's Pier Alberto Carrara was already savoring what he thought would be his first Olympic medal -- a gold, no less. He had hit all 20 biathlon targets and finished in a good time.
     But while Carrara chatted with reporters at the finish line, Norway's Halvard Hanevold was sprinting to the end after missing his next-to-last shot.
     Hanevold collapsed at the line in a time of 56 minutes, 16.4 seconds, good enough for the gold medal Wednesday in the 20-kilometer competition.
     "I didn't think I could win (after the miss), so I concentrated on securing the silver," the Norwegian said. "But during the last kilometer I started hoping for gold and gave it all I had."
     Carrara, in his fourth Olympics, finished in 56:21.9. First-time Olympian Alexei Aidarov won the bronze in 55:46.5.
     All three were surprise winners in a contest that saw some indifferent shooting and skiing from some of the world's top biathletes.
     "That's biathlon. It's a lottery," said Carrara, who had never finished better than 15th in an Olympic event. "In this sport, almost anyone in the top 40 or 50 can win."
     France's Raphael Poiree, widely favored for the gold, finished 22nd after missing two shots. World Cup leader Ricco Gross of Germany came in sixth. The best showing by the formimdable Russians was by 1994 gold medalist Sergei Tarasov, who dropped to 15th after four of his shot went astray.
     American Jay Hakkinen took a tumble on one of the steep descents on this tough course and finished 42nd in 1:02:10.3. He missed four targets.
     Skiing in his first Olympics and having just turned senior, the 20-year-old Kasilof, Alaska, native is regarded as perhaps the best biathlete the United States has produced.
     The second American entry, Robert Rosser, 28, of Plattsburg, N.Y., was 69th among the 71 finishers. He clocked a 1:08:35.7, missing seven times.
     Carrara said he probably lost the gold because he spent too much time at the range, taking perhaps too much care in going for the perfect score.
     In the 20K event, competitors started at intervals of 30 seconds and mastered a climb of 786 yards over the course. They carried .22-caliber rifles and 20 rounds of ammunition.
     Between stretches of skiing, they fired four times at targets 50 meters away, alternating prone and standing positions. Each target missed added a penalty minute to their time.