Dominant Norway win inaugural mixed relay

Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:03pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Norway cruised to victory in the inaugural Olympic biathlon mixed relay on Wednesday in a race in which they were barely threatened.

The gold was a record 13th Winter Olympic medal, and joint record eighth Olympic title for Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who partnered Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tiril Eckhoff and Tora Berger to victory.

Czech Republic won silver while Italy claimed the bronze for their first biathlon medal since Pieralberto Carrara took silver in the men's 20km individual at the Nagano Games in 1998.

"It was a beautiful race," Bjoerndalen told a news conference. "The relay is a different feeling because you don't work for yourself but for the team."

Berger told reporters: "It's special to get a gold in the mixed relay at the Olympics for the first time in history."

France, who were among the favourites, dropped out of contention after Anais Bescond missed five of 10 targets in the second leg and finished a distant seventh.

In the mixed relay, two women race a 6km sprint and two men race a 7.5km sprint. They can reload up to three times per shooting session before having to complete a 150m penalty loop.

"They shot 38 of 40 targets, that is definitely something," France's Jean-Guillaume Beatrix told reporters.   Continued...

Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the mixed biathlon relay at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth