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    Friday, January 2, 1998

    Minnesota woman, Vermont man lead in biathlon trials

     JERICHO, Vt. (AP) -- Kara Salmela beat the field for a second time, giving her the overall lead Friday and a good shot at winning a spot on the U.S. Olympic biathlon team in big day for Minnesotans.
     Meanwhile, Andy Erickson won Friday's 20 km race, but Dan Westover retained a slim lead in the overall competition for a berth on the Olympic team.
     Salmela of Elk River, Minn., won the women's first 15 km race Monday, then did the same thing in Friday's event to give her a commanding lead heading into Saturday's fourth and final day of competition.
     Salmela finished the course Friday in 55 minutes, 35.7 seconds with five penalties, giving her a point average for the first three events of 101.97. Five women will qualify for the Olympic squad.
     Among the men, Erickson of Minnetonka, Minn., finished the course in 1:04:00.4 with four penalties and a point average of 95.54. But Westover of Colchester, who finished fifth in Friday's race, maintained a one-point lead over the field in the overall rankings with a 99.55. Erickson was sixth overall. Four men will be on the Olympic team.
     The final day of competition to determine who will represent the United States at next month's games in Nagano, Japan, will be Saturday at the Ethan Allen Firing Range.