The first women's biathlon event in the Olympic Games, the sprint, was a bit of a surprise: many of the heavily favored athletes finished at the bottom and even out of the top 10. Belarus' Darya Domracheva was nine, Norway's Tora Berger was 10 and Ukraine's Olena Pidhrushna was way back in 26th. They'd get the chance to redeem themselves in the pursuit, but it wouldn't be easy; racers start according to when they finished the sprint.
Domracheva might have begun the race half a minute behind, but she quickly caught up to Anastasiya Kuzmina before the women even got to the first shoot. Both women shot clean, putting them both firmly in the lead going into the second shoot. When Kuzmina missed and Domracheva didn't, the race was almost over.
Domracheva held the lead the rest of the way, so much so that even missing her very last target wasn't enough to take her out of contention. She was 37.6 seconds ahead of the silver medalist when she crossed the finish line, waving a Belarus flag
she grabbed from the stands on her way in. (Domracheva was actually asked to be Belarus' flag bearer in the opening ceremonies but declined because her coaches were ahead she'd get sick from being out in the cold so long.) She'll add her gold medal to the bronze she won in Vancouver for the individual race. And she's shooting so well and skiing so fast that she'll probably get a few more before this is over.
But she'll have to beat Berger first. Berger won the silver today, steadily charging forward from tenth place. Like Domracheva, she missed one target in the last round, but was far enough ahead that it didn't matter. Had she made all of her shots, she probably still wouldn't have been able to catch Domracheva. Slovenia's Teja Gregorin won the bronze, just over four seconds behind Berger. Gregorin's medal was her country's first ever in the biathlon. So now the U.S. is behind Slovenia in that regard.
Unlike the men's events, there was a bright spot for the Americans: Susan Dunklee made her way all the way up to fourth place going into the last shoot, giving us our first real chance at getting a medal. And then ... she missed. Three times. And fell to 18th. Sara Studebaker and Annelies Cook placed 51st and 54th, respectively. They both missed five targets, which is bad, but not as bad as Domracheva's teammate Nastassia Dubarezava. I don't know what happened there, but she missed 12 targets, and finished last.
More Sochi Day 4 action in The Wire's live blog.