Russia take relay gold as Norway falter

Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:46pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Russia won their first biathlon gold medal of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games on Saturday, taking out the men's relay after the hot favorites Norway faltered.

Germany took the silver medal after Simon Schempp could not keep up with Russia's Anton Shipulin in the home straight. Austria claimed the bronze with Norway fourth.

"I tried to do my best and the German team have given us a present," said Shipulin, whose sister Anastasiya Kuzmina won gold in the sprint event for Slovakia.

"I want to thank them and to thank my team as well because everyone did their best in the team."

Norway seemed to be in control at the halfway mark but dropped back after multiple medalist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen lost time on the skis and Emil Hegle Svendsen faltered at the final shooting stage.

"Svendsen is a great champion but he could not control his nerves," said Shipulin.

Norway won the gold medal in the event at the last Olympics in Vancouver and at each of the last four world championships.

Although the silver medal provided some reassurance for a German camp still reeling after their team mate Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle failed a doping test, the near miss also marked the first time since 1976 that Germany failed to land a biathlon gold.   Continued...

Russia's Anton Shipulin skis during the men's biathlon 4 x 7.5 km relay at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth