Cesana San Sicario , Italy , February 23. Rachel Steer (Anchorage, AK) in her final Olympic appearance, led off the US Women’s 4 X 6K Relay which finished 15tth today, 9:07.8 behind Russia. | Results
Russia dominated the competition from start to finish, leaving Germany 50.7 seconds behind and France at 2:26.2.
Steer, who will retire from competitive biathlon at the end of the season, had a bittersweet ending to her Olympic Career. She needed only one extra round to clean prone and put the US in 13th position. She cleaned standing, but needed all three extra rounds. “My standing shooting is my strength, but I lost time today when I needed all three extra rounds,” she commented.
Asked about the end of her Olympic career, she said she was not satisfied, adding, “Maybe when I look back at this in the future I will not be so hard on myself. I am not exactly how I will feel later on, when I am done competing. The sport is so demanding…it is just you, the course, the rifle and the targets.”
US Team leader Tracy Lamb enthusiastically assessed her performance. “Rachel put up a great first leg today. Her range times were very good today and she skied well on the final loop. She fought hard and you cannot ask for more for more from any athlete. Our team had a better than expected result and she was a big part of that. Rachel ended her Olympic career the way she started a decade ago; fighting hard and giving her best for her team.”
Even though Steer ended her Olympic career, she will compete in three more Biathlon World Cups, starting in Pokljuka, Slovenia on March 9.
After Steer, the middle legs of the relay were handled by the Barnes twins, Lanny and Tracy (Durango, CO). Tracy, who has been battling a cold for several days, needed two extra rounds in the prone stage. She came back to clean standing with five steady shots. “I was suffering out there today. The first loop was not too bad, but as I came in for standing, I was struggling. I just wanted to get this over.”
Twin sister, Lanny took over with the team in 18th position. Like her sister, she needed two extra rounds, one each in prone and standing. She moved the team up to 17th as she tagged Carolyn Treacy (Duluth, MN), for the final leg.
Treacy needed one extra round in prone and two in standing, but was happy with her performance. “I shot 80% without the extra rounds and that is good today. I felt so much better than in the Sprint.” As some other teams incurred penalties, Treacy moved up a couple of places. Smiling broadly, she added, “I passed the Canadians and the Japanese. That was fun.”
As the final US competitor in biathlon in these Games, she summed up her experience, “It was great; the village, the stadium and the atmosphere. I did not have any preconceived expectations, so I was not disappointed with the Olympics. My family was here for some of the competitions and my fiancé and some friends were here today.”
Today, the baton was literally passed in the history of US Olympic Biathlon. Rachel Steer, who has been the dominant US woman for the last six years, passes the mantle to a group of athletes who were juniors when she competed in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. When asked how she fit into US women’s biathlon history Steer said, “I was in the right place at the right time when I started biathlon and have taken advantage of that.”
The United States Biathlon Association is the National Governing Body for the sport of Biathlon in the United States as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Biathlon Union. The US Biathlon Association supports the US Biathlon Team and development of the sport on all levels within the United States.