Russia's Ustyugov wins men's 15K mass start

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Russia's Evgeny Ustyugov finally won a medal at the Vancouver Games, capturing the men's 15-kilometer mass start biathlon race.

The World Cup leader shot cleanly to finish in 35 minutes, 35.7 seconds, beating Martin Fourcade of France by 10.5 seconds Sunday. Pavol Hurajt of Slovakia won the bronze, finishing 16.6 seconds behind Ustyugov.

Tim Burke, hoping to make a biathlon breakthrough at the Olympics for the United States, finished 18th.

Fourcade took the silver despite missing three targets, including two on the first, prone shoot and one on the final, standing shoot. Like Ustyugov, Hurajt hit all 20 targets.

Ustyugov, who finished fourth in the 20K and 15th in both the sprint and pursuit, where he missed four of 20 shots, improved both his ski times and his accuracy to win his first Olympic medal.

He left the final shooting stage just six-tenths of a second behind Hurajt and quickly overtook the Slovakian.

It was the kind of bounce back that Burke, of Paul Smiths, N.Y., was hoping for. After three miserable finishes in these games, he entered the third shooting stage Sunday in third place — and promptly missed three of five targets.

Burke finished with four misses — he had to ski a 150-meter penalty loop for each one — and finished 1:09 behind the winner.

The mass start, featuring the top 30 competitors in biathlon, is the ultimate race in the sport combining the rigor of cross-country skiing with the calm precision of rifle marksmanship. With all the competitors starting at the same time, there's the added elements of jockeying and tactical risks on the track.

The Americans aren't medal hopes in the final race, the relay, so they'll head to Sochi, Russia, in four years still trying to end their drought.

The U.S. had high hopes for a medal after Burke became the first American to wear the coveted yellow bib as the overall World Cup leader this winter. He had three top-three finishes on the circuit, but he never recovered after a bad break to start the Winter Games.

Burke was done in by a mid-race snowstorm in the first race, the sprint. That proved a double-whammy because the start times for the pursuit were based on results from that first race. He finished in 47th in the first race and 46th in the second.

After another poor finish in the 20K race, where he missed five of 20 targets, he acknowledged he let the disappointment get to him. He suggested he came to Vancouver with unrealistic expectations and he never quite got over his misfortune in the sprint.

He pledged to be aggressive in the mass start, and he was. But his shooting betrayed him again.