The women's relay marks the final women's biathlon event at the games, and thus some athletes' last chances for an elusive medal. The Americans, of course, still don't have one (and aren't expected to start now), but neither does Ukraine's Olena Pidhrushna, who was seen as a medal favorite but hasn't come close yet. And then there's Team Russia, which won the gold medal in the women's relay in the previous two Olympics.
But first, they'd all have to beat Germany, which was heavily favored going into the race. But then its best competitor, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, tested positive for doping and was disqualified. She wasn't the first female biathlete to test positive, either -- Russia's Irina Starykh did before the games began. Germany finished 11th.
Italy actually had a strong start, coming in first at the end of the first leg, but quickly fell down to eighth when Nicole Gontier had to take a penalty lap after missing four times in the first shoot (remember, in relays racers get three extra bullets per shoot). They ultimately finished in sixth. Russia took over the lead, but once the Ukraine's Juliya Dzhyma shot the second shoot clean and Russia's Olga Zaitseva missed one, first place belonged to the Ukraine, where it stayed.
Pidhrushna missed just one target in the final leg to finish a good 26 seconds ahead of Russia, while Norway managed to steadily gain ground throughout the race and grab the bronze. There was a nice moment before the flower ceremony when Norway's Fanny Welle-Strand Horn said to Pidhrushna that what was happening in her country was "terrible" and she hoped the gold medal would cheer her people up. Pidhrushna said she was thinking "Ukraine! Ukraine! Ukraine!" as she finished the race.