Host City: Sochi, Russia
Venue(s): Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Complex, Krasnaya Polyana
Date Started: February 21, 2014
Date Finished: February 21, 2014
Format: Eight shots for each group of five targets. Penalty loop (150 metres) skied for each missed target.
The two favorites were Russia and Norway, with Germany also considered medal contenders. The Ukraine had won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships, but was only thought to have a shot at bronze. But improbably the Ukraine came through for the gold medal in a stirring victory. It came shortly after civil unrest in Kyiv had rocked the political world, and IOC President Thomas Bach and Ukrainian IOC Member Sergey Bubka had both called for a halt to violence in the country.
Ukraine took the lead on the second leg as Yuliya Dzhyma shot cleanly to move ahead. She handed Valj Semerenko a 12.1 second lead, which she increased to 28.4 seconds, as anchor skiier Olena Pidhrushna took over. Pidhrushna brought Ukraine home in first, with Russia winning the silver medal and Norway the bronze. Ukraine’s victory was a true team effort, as none of their skiiers had the best or second-best performance on any leg, but all of them were either third or fourth for the legs, showing the most consistency of any team.
Germany had a disastrous performance, finishing 11th, as opening skiier Franziska Preuß broke a ski pole, and then after falling, had to clean her rifle before shooting, which had become clogged with snow during the fall. This cost her almost 3 minutes, and she was only 16th after her leg, and the Germans could never make up the time.