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Bjoerndalen wins 7th career Olympic gold in sprint

By Eric Willemsen

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8 2014 10:02 a.m. MST

Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen celebrates after clinching the gold medal in the men's biathlon 10k sprint, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist at 40 by winning the men's 10-kilometer sprint Saturday at the Sochi Games.

The Norwegian beat the record held by Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson, who was 39 when he won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

"I am in super form," Bjoerndalen said. "I prepared well for this and I am feeling strong."

Bjoerndalen missed one target before finishing in 24 minutes, 33.5 seconds for his seventh career Olympic gold medal, leaving him one short of the all-time mark held by Norwegian cross-country skiing great Bjorn Daehlie.

Earning his 12th medal overall, Bjoerndalen also tied Daehlie's record for most medals won at the Winter Games, and looks in a strong position to overtake Daehlie as Norway is a clear favorite in both the men's and the mixed relay competitions.

"I am just looking from race to race now," Bjoerndalen said. "I try my best and then we'll see what comes out in the end."

Dominik Landertinger of Austria finished 1.3 seconds behind to take silver, and Jaroslav Soukup of Czech Republic won bronze, trailing Bjoerndalen by 5.7 seconds.

Pre-race favorites Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway and Martin Fourcade of France, who share eight World Cup wins this season, failed to live up to expectations and finished ninth and sixth, respectively.

Bjoerndalen started as an outsider, not having won an individual competition on the World Cup circuit for almost two years with his last victory coming in a 12.5K pursuit in Finland in February 2012.

After staying clear in the prone shooting, Bjoerndalen missed once in the standing shooting and had to ski a 150-meter penalty loop.

He still edged Landertinger, who shot flawlessly but couldn't match the pace of Bjoerndalen's skiing.

"It was a huge mistake at the shooting," Bjoerndalen said. "I decided to shoot faster afterward as I knew I would still have a chance to win it."

Svendsen, the world sprint champion, led the competition after shooting clean in the first round but the Norwegian lost time when he missed once on the second. Fourcade already failed to hit one target in the prone shooting and never recovered from that deficit.

A sprint consists of three laps skiing on a 3.3-kilometer loop. After the first two laps, the athletes shoot at five targets — first prone, then standing. For each missed target they have to ski a short penalty loop right away.

Competitors start at a 30-second interval and the fastest time wins.