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Local biathoner to become national TV commentator

Chad Salmela is taking his commentator skills to national TV. The name Salmela is synonymous with biathlon in the Northland, and the former Iron Ranger, who now lives in Duluth has parlayed his knowledge of the sport into a 10-week spot on the Ou...

Chad Salmela is taking his commentator skills to national TV. The name Salmela is synonymous with biathlon in the Northland, and the former Iron Ranger, who now lives in Duluth has parlayed his knowledge of the sport into a 10-week spot on the Outdoor Life Network.

He will provide spot analysis and color commentary for OLN broadcasts of the World Cup Biathlon races. The show will broadcast every Friday at 1 p.m. Central Time. The network offers 24-hour outdoor sports and adventure programing and claims 45 million subscribers on a variety of cable TV and satellite systems.

Salmela first got into biathlon while growing up in Biwabik. He went to school in Mountain Iron. At a competitive level, Salmela made it to the national team and just missed the 1998 Olympics.

His brother is biathlon coach Cory Salmela, who is married to biathlete Kara Salmela, a two- time Olympian. Younger brother Kai Salmela is also a competitive biathlete.

Chad Salmela started announcing the sport a few years ago and ended up providing color commentary to the biathlon stadium crowd during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

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At the time, he was working for the organizing committee and was responsible for conducting the biathlon sporting events to an Olympic standard.

Salmela's stint at the mike with an excited style of announcing brought positive reviews from both newspaper and TV reporters covering the games. And his own sister-in-law was competing.

Earlier this week, both Chad and Kara were at Duluth Days in St. Paul on behalf of the Duluth Biathlon Education Association. They were helping the group promote its plans for the Lake Superior Winter Sports Center, a facility for biathlon and Nordic skiing and a focal point for the Lake Superior Hiking Trail.

Having picked up the sport on his own as a kid, Salmela is well aware of the need for more youth training programs if biathlon is to keep growing in the United States.

"We really have a need for this facility," he said.

The group hopes to get foundation support for the $5 million project.

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