The men's mass start might've been delayed two days, but it was definitely worth waiting for.
France's Martin Fourcade was hoping to pull a Darya Domracheva and win a third gold medal out of four races, but he'd have to shoot clean through visibility-reducing snow and fog first. And he didn't -- he missed a target in the first round. But Norway's Ole Einar Bjøerndalen missed two, and going into the last shoot, they were far ahead of the pack along with clean-shooting Ondrej Moravec, from the Czech Republic, and Bjøerndalen's teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen.
Svendsen was seen as a big medal favorite going into Sochi, only to finish in 9th, 7th and 7th place in his last three races. He told the AP that his skis were to blame -- a familiar refrain from the Norwegian team, which hasn't done as well in Sochi as it expected (it's like how America's speed skaters blamed their uniforms) -- but today "they were perfect, and I'm glad we're back where we're supposed to be."
In the last shoot, Fourcade, Moravec and Svendsen shot clean, ensuring them each a medal of some kind. Bjøerndalen, unfortunately, lost it and missed four targets. No record medal for him today. ("I don't know what happened in the last shooting," he told the AP.)
Svendsen took the lead in the homestretch, and thought he was far enough ahead of Fourcade to do some premature celebrating, slowing down a bit and raising his arms in triumph, only for Fourcade to suddenly pull forward and stretch out at the finish line, giving us a photo finish:
victory sets the Norwegians up nicely for the relay, which they won in Vancouver, and new mixed relay event.
Moravec, who won a silver in the pursuit, adds a bronze medal to his collection
As for Bjøerndalen, he dropped down to 22 -- in between Americans Tim Burke (he missed four targets) and Lowell Bailey (who missed five).
Burke told Team USA that the conditions were "a challenge," while Bailey said "nothing really came together today. The conditions are what they are."
More Sochi Day 11 action in The Wire's live blog.
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