Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won his record 13th career Winter Olympic medal by helping Team Norway claim the inaugural Olympic gold in the mixed relay. And he played a critical role in doing so.
After female competitors Tora Berger and Tiril Eckhoff (both individual Sochi medalists) ran strong legs, Bjoerndalen was up third. He turned in a stellar performance on the course, going 10-for-10 in shooting (one prone, one standing) and giving anchor/mass start winner Emil Hegle Svendsen a big lead.
Svendsen was equally impeccable, also going 10-for-10 in shooting. Upon hitting his last shot, he turned around and waved to the crowd before hitting the ski course for the final time.
Final margin of victory for Norway: 32.6 seconds over the Czech Republic’s foursome. Italy’s team earned the bronze, finishing a further 25 seconds or so back.
Bjoerndalen had tied fellow Norwegian Bjorn Daehlie’s record of 12 Winter Olympic medals earlier in these games when he won the men’s individual sprint on Feb. 8.
He followed that with a near-miss – a fourth-place finish in the Feb. 10 men’s pursuit. Then came finishes of 34th in the men’s individual and 22nd in yesterday’s mass start.
But on his fourth attempt at taking the medal record outright, he’s come through – and with his eighth Olympic gold no less, which pulls him into yet another tie with Daehlie, the great cross-country skier.
He can capture the gold record in Saturday’s men’s 4×7.5km relay, the final men’s biathlon event of these Games.
BIATHLON – MIXED RELAY
1. Norway, 1:09.17.0
2. Czech Republic, 1:09:49.6
3. Italy, 1:10:15.2
9. United States, 1:12:20.1