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Jeremy Teela looking toward 2010

Biathlon

Wed, Mar  18, 2009 - By US Biathlon Association

Teela’s third place at Whistler was the best US result in a World Cup level competition since Josh Thompson finished second in the Canmore, Canada World Cup in 1992, in ironically the same event, the 20K. T

Now this Olympic veteran has found some magic at this venue that will host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games next February. It is not surprising that Teela did well at the WOP venue; he spent his early years just south of the Canadian border in northern Washington State. He explained, “I grew up just south of here. I learned to ski at Whistler Blackcomb, so this is definitely a special place for me. My family all live just a couple of hours away and I expect that they will come to watch during the Olympics, just as they did this week at the World Cup.”

The third place finish for Teela, a former competitive swimmer who moved to cross-country skiing and biathlon in his early teens, was an important step for him as the 2010 Olympic Winter Games approach. He finished 23.3 seconds behind Vincent Jay of France, who won in 49:53.9, with clean shooting. Teela commented, “For sure this is a special result in a special place for me. This was definitely unexpected for me. I do not know when the last time was that I shot 19-for-20 in an Individual competition. I am pretty happy to be on the podium right now.”

Teela hoping to make his third US Olympic Team next winter, praised the Whistler Olympic Park. “The courses are completely different from anything else on the World Cup circuit. It is a very rolling course with not a lot of steep climbs. A lot of it is gradual; there is only one steep part and it is not too long. I will have to work on my technique for this course before next year. I think I can make some improvements before next year.”

He continued, “Before I came here the first time, I knew how much snowfall they get here, but did not know how they would design the tracks, so I did not have any pre-conceived notions other than that. The course profile was new to me, but not the conditions since I have been in the area before.”

One of the unique aspects of the Whistler Olympic Park is how the venues are in harmony with the surroundings, which Teela and every biathlete has noticed during the World Cup. “As for the setting, I do not think you can beat this setting. This valley is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. This venue is tucked into the valley. When you ski the course, you are in the trees and frequently have the spectacular vistas that pop up. When you ski from the biathlon stadium to the cross-country stadium and the jumping stadium, you cannot see any of them until you are right there. They are not obtrusive and do not upset the natural setting.”

He and his US teammates have been to the venue several times and they now consider it a “home” of sorts. He explained, “I consider this a home venue. It is just 1:40 from my home in Utah and so close to where I grew up; I think the 2010 Games will be a home Olympics for me. I feel like I will have a “home course” advantage. This place just has a special feeling for me to be close to home and have all of my family here. It is very special to race in North America, because we do not have many opportunities to do that. It is very special to race in this environment in North America. Salt Lake is a special place for me and I expect that Whistler Olympic Park will also be like that.”

With that “home course” advantage, Teela as well as the other US Biathletes have big goals for February 2010. “All of the men on the US Team are excited about the possibility of winning a medal in 2010. This has been a goal of our team: to win the first ever Olympic Biathlon medal for the USA. In previous Games, we have only had one or two strong men. Now we have four men all pointing for this Olympics. It is a lot like the lottery, but the more quality people you have, the better chance you have of winning a medal (in both individual competitions and the relay).”

As a biathlon veteran, with two top ten finishes in Biathlon World Championships (2001 and 2003), Teela knows that making the step to the medal’s platform takes more than skill. “To win a medal you do not have to be the best biathlete in the world, but you have to be the best biathlete on that day. For example, I do not think I was the best guy on Wednesday, but I was one of the best that day.”

His surprising third place was good for Teela’s psyche as 2010 approaches. He now knows that not just a relay medal but also an individual medal is a possibility. “I had a personal best in a World Cup on the 2010 Olympic venue. That result gives me a lot of confidence and incentive as I look towards next year. Likewise, our relay team has a great chance to do something special at this venue also.”

Regardless of what happens next year, Teela appreciates the chance to compete at Whistler Olympic Park. “It is very special to race in North America, because we do not have many opportunities to do that. It is very special to race in this environment in North America. This is a beautiful venue. It has everything. It should be around for a long time.”