Kuzmina takes gold in biathlon in women's 7.5K

Published February 13, 2010

| AP

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Swedish favorite Helena Jonsson failed to even crack the top 10 despite a clean shoot, the big shocker of the first women's biathlon race at the Vancouver Olympics.

Also surprising was the trio of less accomplished biathletes on the podium Saturday — Slovakia's Anastazia Kuzmina, Germany's Magdalena Neuner and France's Marie Dorin.

Kuzmina became the first Slovakian woman to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics. She captured the 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint on a course sprinkled with fertilizer to harden snow that had been pelted for days with rain and sleet at sloshy Whistler Olympic Park.

Neuner took the silver, 1.5 seconds behind Kuzmina, and Dorin won the bronze with a clean shoot that put her 10.9 seconds off Kuzmina's winning time of 19 minutes, 55.6 seconds.

Jonsson, who won the world title last year in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, finished in 12th.

"I have absolutely no idea what happened. The skiing felt great, it felt like a regular competition," said Jonsson, who has four World Cup wins this season and leads the overall standings.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Jonsson said. "Right now I'd just like to go home. I'm going to be upset tonight, but then I'll recharge."

Kuzmina and Neuner missed one shot but sped around the 150-meter penalty loop fast enough that it didn't matter.

The top American was Sara Studebaker, of Boise, Idaho. She finished in 45th, more than two minutes off the pace.