Martin Fourcade Wins Gold Medal for Biathlon Olympics 2018 15-Km Mass Start

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2018

Simon Schempp, of Germany, left, and Martin Fourcade, of France, right, race across the finish line during the men's 15-kilometer mass start biathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

France's Martin Fourcade beat Germany's Simon Schempp in a thrilling sprint in the final of the biathlon 15-kilometre mass start on Sunday at the Winter Olympics.

The two men were involved in an absorbing battle late on and crossed the line with the same time of 35 minutes, 47.3 seconds. However, on review of the photo, Fourcade did just enough to earn his second gold medal of the Games. Bronze went to Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway.

Fourcade's big rival, Johannes Thingnes Boe, faded after a strong start, with a poor second round of shooting costing him.

Here are the top three finishers from the mass start and a recap of how the action played out:

       

1. Martin Fourcade (FRA) - 35:47.3

2. Simon Schempp (GER) - 35:47.3

3. Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) - 35:58.5

      

For the results in full, visit the Pyeongchang website.

          

Fourcade Wins a Thriller

France's Martin Fourcade celebrates at the finish line in the men's 15km mass start biathlon event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 18, 2018, in Pyeongchang. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN        (Photo credit should read ODD ANDER
ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

Fourcade led the pack out before the first round of shooting, although with the pace pedestrian, there were no competitors off the back as they settled in to take aim for the first time.

In the shoot, the Frenchman missed one of his five efforts, immediately giving himself some work do to. Additionally, while doing his penalty lap, Fourcade slipped over while taking a corner.

Meanwhile, Boe was flawless in the first prone shoot. The Norwegian didn't put the hammer down, though, giving Fourcade and those competitors that made early errors an opportunity to get themselves back into contention.

Things got even worse for Boe, as the individual gold medalist missed three of his five shots in the next round, effectively ending his chances of a medal.

As the IBU World Cup Twitter account noted, Germany's pair of Benedikt Doll and Erik Lesser were leading the way at this point:

Fourcade also appeared to be finding his rhythm, as a flawless second round of shooting and some swift skiing put him back up into third. At the first standing shot, another five from five put him back in front and in an excellent position to win.

At this point, the lead group had been whittled down to three, with Fourcade, Lesser and world champion Schempp now a fair way clear of the rest. It meant there was huge pressure on the trio as they entered the range for the final time.

Unsurprisingly, there were misses. Fourcade and Schempp picked up one penalty, while Lesser missed twice to push him back into the field. There were two distinct battles on course: one for gold and one for bronze:

Up front, Schempp settled in behind Fourcade and appeared content on waiting for the sprint finish. As they entered the arena, the German tore around the outside and inched closer to his rival before both lunged to the line.

Initially, Fourcade appeared to think Schempp had won it, as he cut a frustrated figure. But after a look at the photo finish, he realised he'd won his fourth Olympic gold. As we can see courtesy of NBC's Nick Zaccardi, there was nothing in it:

Having lost this event in a sprint finish four years ago to Svendsen, there was a sense of relief in Fourcade's celebrations. He also further cemented his status as one of the sport's all-time greats with this triumph.

Further back, Svendsen had made up ground on Lesser and Doll after going clear in the last round of shooting. In his final Games, he was able to grab a hard-earned bronze.

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