Winter Olympics: Iceman Christiansen anchors Norway to biathlon gold after ROC collapse

Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen during the Men's Biathlon 4x7.5km Relay race at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre on Feb 15, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ZHANGJIAKOU (REUTERS) - Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen kept his cool as Norway roared back to pull off a stunning win in the men's 4x7.5km biathlon relay at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday (Feb 15) following a sensational collapse on the final shoot by Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Eduard Latypov.

The middle two legs of the race looked like a victory parade for the ROC, but a series of misses by Latypov destroyed their chances of gold, allowing Christiansen to coolly swoop in and claim the win for Norway.

"I was so calm (at the last shoot), I was completely in my own world and it's hard to say what I thought - there was a little blackout there but I'm very, very happy that we managed to do this turn around," Christiansen said.

He crossed the line 27.4 seconds ahead of Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, with Latypov coming home 17.9 seconds further back for a disappointing bronze medal before apologising for his late capitulation on the final shoot.

"I tried at first to wait, but I understood that I have to work faster. There was this gust of wind and my feeling was not so good, the concentration was not what I wanted it to be. That, with the gusts of wind, made me make the misses," a distraught Latypov said.

"I tried to change things up, but here it was more of a psychological issue."

Maillet was all the happier with his silver as it gave him a record five biathlon medals at one Olympics.

Freezing temperatures of -15 deg C prompted organisers to start the race 2½ hours earlier than planned, and the competition began in blazing afternoon sunshine with blustery winds increasing the air chill.

The Russians took command over the middle two legs of the race, Alexander Loginov and Maxim Tsvetkov taking their time on the range and preserving their lead. Latypov, a bronze medallist in the pursuit race, set his sights on bringing home the gold.

That dream was dashed, however, as he missed a scarcely-believable four of his five shots to leave his team's hopes in tatters and Christiansen sailed into the lead on the final lap, with no intention of relinquishing it.

Wrapped up in bear hugs by his teammates after crossing the finish line, he delivered Norway's fifth biathlon gold of the Games and by far the most thrilling.

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