Ukraine’s quartet of Vita Semerenko, Juliya Dzhmya, Valj Semerenko and Olena Pidhrushna built up a big lead and held on as the biathlon women’s relay tightened up late to claim a gold medal – and perhaps provide a momentary lift for their troubled country.
Their countryman – former Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Sergey Bubka – cheered the victory:
Valj Semerenko missed three shots on the Ukrainians’ third leg but was able to hold onto the lead before making way for Pidhrushna, the 2013 world sprint champion.
Pidhrushna went 9-for-10 in the shooting and went on to win by 26.4 seconds over Olga Vilukhina, who brought home the silver for Russia’s team (Yana Romanova, Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Shumilova).
It marks Ukraine’s second Sochi medal in biathlon after Vita Semerenko’s bronze in the sprint.
Tora Berger, unable to reel in Vilukhina on the final leg, finished third to give Norway the bronze.
As for the U.S., it achieved its best-ever finish in this event with a seventh-place result. Competing for the U.S. tonight were Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker, Sara Studebaker, and Annalies Cook.
Tonight’s race also marked the first ever non-podium finish for the Germans in this event, which went onto the Olympic program in the 1992 Albertville Games. Their team finished 11th.
WOMEN’S BIATHLON – 4X6KM RELAY
1. Ukraine, 1:10:02.5
2. Russia, +26.4 seconds
3. Norway, +37.6 seconds
7. United States, 2:11.7