Jay Hakkinen qualifies for 2006 Olympics

Kasilof biathlete is the first Alaskan to earn a trip to games in Turin, Italy

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005

ANCHORAGE - Biathlete Jay Hakkinen of Kasilof has secured a spot in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. He is the first Alaska resident to earn a spot in the 2006 Olympics.

Hakkinen, who graduated from Skyview High School, finished 15th Sunday in a World Cup 12.5 kilometer race in Ruhpolding, Germany, to secure a spot on the Olympic team for the third straight time.

Anchorage nordic skier Nina Kemppel is the only Alaskan to compete in four Olympics, while alpine skiers Tommy Moe of Palmer/Girdwood and Hilary Lindh of Juneau are the only other Alaskans to compete in three Olympics.

After shooting in the prone position, Hakkinen was 25th. But by the time he finished shooting in the standing position, he'd moved to 15th place.

Hakkinen then went on to finish more than six seconds ahead of 16th-place Michael Greis of Germany.

According to U.S. Biathlon rules, any athlete with two top-15 finishes in the World Cup automatically earns a spot on the Olympic team and can avoid the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Earlier this season, Hakkinen finished seventh at another World Cup race in Sweden.

His finish on Sunday leaves him 21st in the World Cup seasonal rankings, just one point out of 20th place.

At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Hakkinen finished no worse than 26th in his four races. His 13th place finish in the 12.5-kilometer race was the best Olympic biathlon finish by an American.

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