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Biathlete Annelies Cook at a meet in Eastern Europe, as captured from the TV screen. Archive Photo of the Day: George S. Cook, Saranac Lake NY.
Biathlete Annelies Cook at a meet in Eastern Europe, as captured from the TV screen. Archive Photo of the Day: George S. Cook, Saranac Lake NY.

Adirondack biathlon trio hits stride in Sochi

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One of the most astonishing stories in this year's Winter Olympics is that a handful of small Adirondack villages -- Lake Placid, Paul Smiths and Saranac Lake -- have produced three of the ten athletes on the US biathlon team.

Chris Knight with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is one of our Sochi correspondents and he caught up with the North Country's biathlon contingent at the Olympic Nordic center yesterday.

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Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Annelies Cook from Saranac Lake says she feels like she's hitting her stride as she faces her first race, a 7.5 kilometer sprint, on Sunday.

"I've been struggling this whole season, but in the last three weeks I started to feel good and normal," Cook said. 

She told Chris that she's loving the Olympic village and the gorgeous scenery in Sochi: 

"Everything is pretty set, the rooms are nice.  Everywhere we go there's beautiful vistas, any direction there's a gorgeous mountain."

Lowell Bailey from Lake Placid, a member of US biathlon, skiing in Vancouver in 2010 Photo:  Nancie Battaglia
Lowell Bailey from Lake Placid, a member of US biathlon, skiing in Vancouver in 2010 Photo: Nancie Battaglia
Lowell Bailey from Lake Placid will also be racing and shooting biathlon, beginning with a 10 kilometer sprint race tomorrow.  He says he too is hitting Sochi at just the right moment in his season.

Momentum in biathlon is really important. I feel really good about where I'm at in my skiing and shooting. I'm looking forward to finally racing
"Momentum in biathlon is really important.  I feel really good about where I'm at in my skiing and shooting.  I'm looking forward to finally racing," he said.

Bailey says the only wrinkle so far is a small one.  It turns out that tonight's massive opening ceremony for the Winter Games have been scheduled at a time that will be hard for many athletes to attend.

Tim Burke from Paul Smiths will compete in Sochi beginning this weekend.  Photo:  Nancie Battaglia
Tim Burke from Paul Smiths will compete in Sochi beginning this weekend. Photo: Nancie Battaglia
Tim Burke from Paul Smiths will also be in the hunt for a medal in the coming days.  He says the US biathlon team has positioned itself to have a serious chance of reaching the podium.

"We'll be competing against 100 other guys who on the right day can make it to the podium, so it's just a matter of putting it together on race day."

Burke says he's been hearing from friends and family back in the Adirondacks, who are watching these Olympics.  He says that support means a huge boost for North Country athletes.

"I feel like the support at home will be there if I win a medal, if I have poor races, no matter what the outcome is, and that means a lot to me."

Chris Knight from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise also got his first chance to view the biathlon course as athletes were training.  He says it was an awesome experience.

Olympic biathlon stadium in Sochi.  Photo: Chris Knight from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise used with permission.
Olympic biathlon stadium in Sochi. Photo: Chris Knight from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise used with permission.
"It's just something you don't think you'd ever see up close like that.  I just kind of stood there really in awe of the whole venue and what's going to be going on there in the next couple of days."

Biathlon competitions begin on Saturday in Russia, with the men's 10k sprint, followed by the women's 7.5 K sprint on Sunday.   You'll find that latest results and information all through the weekend on our Sochi page.  Also, we're tweeting the latest Sochi news at #ncprolympics.

Special thanks to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Chris Knight for their help covering the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Find their up to the minute coverage here.

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