What separated the Olympic champions in the men’s 4×7.5km relay from the rest of the field came down to the accuracy biathletes were able to execute in the shooting range. Norway’s team of Sturla Holm Laegreid, Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen were favorites coming into the relay and clinched gold at 1:19:50.2 when ROC’s Eduard Latypov let the Russian’s lead slip through his frozen fingers. France joined Norway to use Latypov’s misfortunes to their advantage and won silver 27.4 seconds later. ROC finished with bronze 45.3 seconds behind Norway.
The ROC relay team of Said Karimulla Khalili, Alexander Loginov and Maxim Tsvetkov and Eduard Latypov looked like the clear gold medalists of the event at the end of the seventh shooting stage. They were able to keep a consistent, steady lead of at least half a minute at each exchange, even with one miss on target from Khalili in the first leg and two from Loginov in the second. Tsvetkov was not the fastest skier on the course, but played to his strengths as a great shooter and went 10-for-10 in the third leg of the race.
At first, It seemed like Norway was not going to be in medal contention after the first leg took shape. Laegried of Norway started the relay with three missed targets in standing and consequently skied a 150m penalty loop, adding around 25 seconds to their time. They were out of the top five at the beginning of the third leg.
If anyone was going to bring the Norwegian team back into medal contention, it was going to be Johannes Thingnes Boe. His brother Tarjei Boe, gave him a minute and 40 second deficit behind ROC’s Tsvetkov after missing two targets in the standing shooting. Similar to his brother, “JT” Boe missed two targets in the prone shooting and came back to shoot clean in his final standing stage. He made up for lost real estate on the course by keeping tight turns and shifting his weight on downhills to gain momentum. He brought the Norwegians into fourth 43.0 seconds behind ROC.
Norway, France and Germany created the first chase group behind ROC in the fourth leg of the relay. They piled increasing levels of pressure onto Latypov when all four men met in the range for the final standing shooting stage.
Latypov anchored the relay for the ROC and was unable to continue the consistency he put down prior, going clean in the prone shooting. He missed four shots on target in the standing and had to do two penalty laps of 150m. The ROC’s race had been turned upside down in the last shooting stage.
The Norwegians pulled from deep experience and kept the faith in their anchor Christinsen to get the job done. This would be Johannes Thingnes Boe’s fourth medal at the 2022 Games and his seventh Olympic career medal.
Quentin Fillon Maillet of France has won a medal in every event he entered in at the 2022 Winter Olympics and is just one medal away from becoming the first athlete to win the most medals in a single Winter Olympics. He added his silver medal win from the men’s relay to his two gold and two silver medals.
The final opportunity for men to medal in a biathlon event at the 2022 Winter Olympics is in the 15km mass start on Feb. 18 at 4 a.m. ET.
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