Soldier shoots for medal in biathlon

| February 20, 2010 | 0 Comments

Biathlete’s dream is to win 2010 Olympic gold

Story and Photo by Tim Hipps
Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command

SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah — Three-time Olympic biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela returns to the site of the best performance of his career with sights set on becoming the first U.S. biathlete ever to win an Olympic medal.
Teela, a Soldier in the U. S. Army World Class Athlete Program, finished third in the men’s 20-kilometer individual race at last season’s World Cup stop in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, the biathlon site for the XXI Olympic Winter Games.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela (far right) shoots a perfect 10 for 10 from the prone position en route to a 24th place finish Tuesday in the OIympic men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia, Canada.“That was my day,” Teela said of March 11, 2009. “I made as close to a perfect race as I could.”

He remembers the race as if it were yesterday.

“I caught a good ride with an Austrian, who was skiing really well at the time, and a Russian,” Teela recalled, with a gleam in his eyes. “They were skiing as a pair.

“I started and they came through the gate, as well, so I hooked up with those two fast guys,” he continued.

“Normally, they’re skiing a little faster than me, but on that day, I had great skis, and I felt great, so I just tagged along.”

Teela said the guys were actually going a bit slower than he wanted, but the ride was a 20K and a good pace was needed.

“I stayed with them for three or four loops, and I was putting in some good ski times and was top 10 or top 12. Then I started shooting well. The fourth loop, I came in and kind of knew I was 14 for 15.”

Teela was enjoying one of his best shooting days on a biathlon range.

“I came in the last stage and didn’t have any thought in my head,” he said. “There was no activity. I just went in and did my normal thing … then looked up and said, ‘Wow! Shot perfect last stage!’

“All these guys were there jumping up and down and waving their hands, saying ‘Go! Go!’ he continued. “I was like, ‘Sweet, alright. Everyone’s cheering, cool.’

“I got down the course and was maybe a half-kilometer out, and coach was there saying, ‘You’re in second place.’ And I was like, ‘No stuff, second place, huh?’” Teela explained, “I always thought if somebody told me I was podium bound, I would have this extra kick in me, but I had nothing. I was fighting … just going as hard as I could.”

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela skis to a ninth-place finish in the Olympic men’s 10-kilometer sprint, Sunday, at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia, Canada. With his third-place finish, Teela became the first American biathlete to win a World Cup medal since Josh Thompson in 1992.

Teela, 33, trains in Heber City, Utah, and claims Anchorage as home. He is competing at the Vancouver Games with Tim Burke, who medaled twice on the 2009-2010 World Cup circuit, since Teela’s third-place finish at Whistler.

Burke, 27, of Paul Smiths, N.Y., headlines the U.S. Olympic biathlon squad, joined by Teela; four-time Olympian Jay Hakkinen, 32, of Kasilof, Alaska; Lowell Bailey, 28, of Lake Placid, N.Y.; and first-timer Wynn Roberts, 21, of Battle Creek, Minn.

“You try to be the best that day,” Teela said. “You don’t have to be the best in the world. All you have to do is be the best at the Olympics on that day.”

“I’ve got two jackets. I want the hardware.”

Teela said he’s honored to represent Soldiers and their families worldwide.

“It’s an amazing opportunity given to you to be able to race and compete at the Olympics and to represent the United States, but it’s also special for me to race and compete for the Army,” he said. “It’s hard to explain … just to show up and have so many people rooting for you.

“You show up and you race alone, but there’s been a lot of people along the road that’s helped you get to where you are,” Teela said.

“I’ve got a big strong team behind me that says U.S. Army on it,” Teela added.

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