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Historic finishes in Women’s Biathlon Sprint

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Today, Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia became the first woman to successfully win back to back biathlon Sprint Gold medals at the Winter Olympics. Her time of 21 minutes 6.8 seconds was nearly 20 seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

The Silver medal was won by Olga Vilukhina of Russia and Vita Semerenko of Ukraine took home the Bronze medal.

The USA’s Susan Dunklee made history by placing 14th with a time of 21:48.3. That is the highest finish by any US woman in the Sprint event of the Winter Games. Three other female US biathletes competed; Sara Studebaker placed 44th, Annelies Cook was 53rd, and Hannah Dreissigacker made 65th.

Missed shots during the shooting portions, one standing and one prone, were costly to the ranks of some of the top 15 finishers. A missed shot requires the competitor to ski one penalty lap per missed shot. The women who finished nine through 15 all incurred one penalty. A penalty lap will add approximately 20 seconds to the biathlete’s time. The spread between third place (the Bronze medal) and fifteenth place was 20.4 seconds.

The mental aspects of shooting combined with the physical rigor of cross country skiing are what make biathlon such a demanding sport. The athletes must pace themselves during the skiing and then shift their focus to the difficult task of shooting a .22 caliber rifle at a target the size of a golf ball at 50 meters. None of the medalists missed any targets. The most commonly missed targets were the first and the last. This is generally the result of rushing the shot due to mental pressure.

The next biathlon event will be the Men's 12.5km pursuit, which will take place tomorrow.

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