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Olympics-Biathlon-Blustery winds and shooting woes level the field – Metro US

Olympics-Biathlon-Blustery winds and shooting woes level the field

Biathlon – Mixed Relay 4x6km (W+M)
Biathlon – Mixed Relay 4x6km (W+M)

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Blustery conditions at the National Biathlon Centre have blown the competition wide open at the Beijing Olympics, with some unexpected misses on the firing range levelling the playing field and putting some unlikely competitors in contention.

Norway went from being leaders to also-rans and back again after Johannes Thingnes Boe turned things around in stunning fashion to win Saturday’s mixed relay, ahead of France and athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The United States did not make the podium but the underdogs briefly found themselves in contention for a medal as Sean Doherty got in among the traditional superpowers of the sport before falling away again.

“It was tough to shoot out there, we saw that there was a lot of misses in the competition today,” Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, a gold medallist from the 2018 Olympics, told Reuters after his team’s fourth-placed finish.

“I’m happy with my performance, I read things well in the prone shooting and the standing was a really good series (of shots),” he said.

A dizzying array of teams managed to take what looked like commanding leads at various stages in the 4×6 km race, only to be undone on a visit to the range as their .22 bullets were whipped around by an unpredictable, swirling wind.

“When I came to the range, there was a strong gust of wind and I had to wait it out … when I started shooting I was shaking so much that I was barely hitting the targets,” Russian Kristina Reztsova said.

With similar cold, blustery conditions forecast for the coming days, the weather is quickly becoming a great leveller in competition.

“The windy conditions made the race interesting, in other ways it (competition) is not so equal,” French silver medallist Anais Chevalier-Bouchet told Reuters.

Competition continues with the women’s 15 km race on Monday.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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