KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was a perfect 10-10 shooting with his shiny red rifle. But in the final Olympic event of his career, the 40-year-old Norwegian did not add to his record collection of medals in the Winter Games.
Bjoerndalen did the third leg Saturday night for a four-man Norwegian team that placed fourth in the men's 4X7.5 kilometer relay. Russia won the event.
So he'll leave here with 13 medals in six Olympics – most ever by a single Winter Olympian.
He had won two gold medals here (in the 10-kilometer sprint and a mixed relay for men and women) to surpass the previous record of 12 Winter Olympic medals he had shared with former Norwegian cross country skier Bjorn Daehlie.
Bjoerndalen and Daehlie both have eight Olympic golds – also a record. Bjoerndalen had a chance to break that record Saturday night.
In the race each team member made three trips around the illuminated course (about 4.6 miles total each) and shot twice – from the prone and standing positions.
Bjoerndalen, who has said this is his final Olympics, needed just five shots from his bolt-action, .22-caliber rifle to hit the five targets from the down position. He did the same from the standing position.
Norway had its lead diminished by about 17-18 seconds when Bjoerndalen raced, but it still led by a slim margin when anchor man Emil Hegle Svendsen took over.
Svendsen, who had earlier won two golds of his own at these Olympics, had an off day with the rifle and missed four shots (out of eight) in the final shooting from the standing position. That meant a penalty loop of 150 meters, and the race for a medal was essentially over for Norway.
"I'm very sad," said Svendsen. "It was my part. I have no explanation."
Russian finished first in a time of 1:12.15.9 for the race that covered about 18.6 miles.