Sochi recap: Biathlon, men’s sprint

Old man winter, 40-year-old Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, tied the record for Winter Olympic medals with his 12th. And it’s his seventh gold. And the Sochi Games are just starting.

Date: 8- Feb

Sport: Biathlon

Event: Men’s sprint (10k)

Medalists: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Norway), Dominik Landertinger (Austria), Jaroslav Soukup (Czech Republic)

SportsMyriad projections: Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway), Martin Fourcade (France), Jakov Fak (Slovenia)

How U.S. fared: Tim Burke got a bit of TV time when he came up to the first shooting stage, and he came through with five perfect shots. The cameras picked him up again on his second shoot, the more difficult standing shoot, and his second shot went wide. That took him out of medal contention and down to 19th.

Lowell Bailey missed one shot at each stage and wound up 35th. Leif Nordgren shot cleanly, a nice accomplishment for the first-time Olympian, and placed 45th.

Russell Currier had the fun distinction of being the last skier to start. Less fun: He missed four shots in prone. He did clear the standing stage and passed a skier who started ahead of him, finishing 61st.

What happened: Quick reminder of the format: This is a race against the clock, with skiers taking to the course at 30-second intervals. The head-to-head races come later. There are two shooting stages in this race — one prone, one standing.

Bjoerndalen, the sentimental favorite to win his 35,882th medal in his 479th Olympics, went through quickly but missed one shot on the standing stage.

But others faltered. Russian favorite Evgeny Ustyugov was out of the top three after the first 15 skiers finished. Fellow Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendsen missed a standing shot and never recovered. French powerhouse Martin Fourcade missed a prone shot and recovered to clean the standing, still lagging a few seconds behind the pace Bjoerndalen set.

Bjoerndalen, who started 24th, took over the clubhouse lead from Austria’s Dominik Landertinger by 1.3 seconds. Fourcade (starting 39th) could never be counted out, but when he finished, he was only third. Then he was immediately bumped out of the medals by the Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Soukup. Landertinger and Soukup shot cleanly.

Russia’s Anton Shipulin blew through the first several checkpoints rather quickly, but a miss at the standing stage meant the home crowd wasn’t going to see a winner. He flew hard at the finish, seeing the time he had to beat, but came across in agony in fourth place.

Canada’s J.P. Le Guellec, who occasionally surprises on the World Cup circuit, actually came through the second shooting faster then Bjoerndalen. He couldn’t zip through the last lap as quickly but finished a very strong fifth.

The last real hope was Italy’s Lukas Hofer. But he threw one shot wide, and on this day, that was enough.

Quote: “I always forget that (I’m 40). I feel like I’m 20.” – Ole Einar Bjoerndalen

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