Whistler, British Columbia – Magdalena Neuner (GER) claimed her second gold of the Olympics, overcoming two penalties to stage a come-from-behind win over Olga Zaitseva (RUS) and teammate Simone Hauswald.
Neuner, with a miss on each the first prone stage and the first standing stage, cleaned during the last shooting round, shooting quickly, and left the range just 7 seconds behind Zaitseva.
After three shooting stages, Russia controlled the race, with Olga Medvedtseva joining Zaitseva at the front. Teja Gregorin (SLO) joined the Russians at the front with a 10 second lead on Marie Laure Brunet (FRA).
Neuner was nearly 28 second back in 8th.
But Grogorin and Brunet both incurred penalties, and Medvedtseva was fading. Hauswald, who missed two shots in the first standing stage, left the stadium with Neuner, catching a ride for much of the remainder of the race. She could not match Neuner’s blazing speed in the last lap, but stayed with her long enough to catch Medvedtseva.
“During the race I was 15th, then 8th,” Neuner told gathered reporters at the post-race press conference. “I though ‘ok, well so far so good.’ But then at the last shooting I really fought for it. And then all of a sudden there was only Simone and the Russian in fornt of me, so I started the turbo.”
While Neuner skied to a clear victory, Medvedtseva and Hauswald battled over the last two kilomoters, with Hauswald setting the pace. But Medvedtseva had a bit more left on the last climb into the stadium, opening a five meter gap that she would hold to the finish.
Said Hauswald, “I’m absolutely delighted that I managed to win a medal. One thing is for sure, I did not lose a 2nd, I won a 3rd.”
Medvedtseva, who was leading on the last lap echoed that sentiment. When asked about missing out on the gold, she responded “There is no difference. This is an Olympic medal. This is very valuable to me.”
Neuner also won a silver in the sprint and a gold in the pursuit, giving her three medals with the relay still to come.
“I am absolutely confident these days. I know what I can do and am simply enjoying it.”
The Swedish women continue to struggle. Helena Jonsson, arguably the favorite entering the games finished 10th, and has yet to challenge for the podium.
No Americans or Canadians raced.
Only 30 athletes are allowed to start. The top-15 on the overall World Cup rankings get spots, as do the medal winners thus far at the Games. Any remaining spots are filled based on World Cup points scored during the Olympics.
This was the last individual biathlon race, with just the relay remaining on the 23rd.