Host City: Sochi, Russia
Venue(s): Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Complex, Krasnaya Polyana
Date Started: February 22, 2014
Date Finished: February 22, 2014
Format: Eight shots for each group of five targets. Penalty loop (150 metres) skied for each missed target.
Norway was favored in this event coming in to Sochi, as they had not been beaten at the World Championships since 2008. Russia had come to Sochi looking for multiple medals in biathlon but had struggled. The team’s benefactor was Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who owned the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, but as the Games neared their end, Prokhorov said he would resign as President of the Russian Biathlon Union if they did not improve their performance. And that they did by winning the final biathlon gold medal of the Sochi Olympics in the men’s relay.
Norway took the early lead, with the brothers Tarjei Bø and Johannes Thingnes Bø leading after the first two legs. Russia was third, as Germany’s Erik Lesser moved his team into second. It had been a very disappointing Winter Olympics for the German biathletes, but Daniel Böhm held onto second after the second leg. Norwegian biathlon legend, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, looking for his record 14th Winter Olympic medal, skiied the third leg, and shot cleanly. But his skiing was slower than usual, and Arnd Peiffer moved Germany only 2 seconds back, with Russia another 15 seconds behind. Norway’s anchor leg was Emil Hegle Svendsen, who had won gold in Sochi in the mass start race, but had been sick throughout the Games. He shot very poorly on his leg, missing four targets and dropped completely off the podium as they would finish fourth.
The gold and silver medals came down to a race between the Russian and German anchor skiiers – Anton Shipulin and Simon Schempp. Schempp shot better, needing only 2 extra shots to hit all his targets, to Shipulin’s 4, but he could not match Shipulin’s speed over the snow and Shipulin came home in front by 3.5 seconds. Austria won the bronze medal, almost 30 seconds back, with Norway well behind in fourth.