KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Two days after claiming his seventh career Olympic gold medal, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen gets another reward for his upset victory in the sprint — starting first in Monday's 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
In the second men's biathlon event at the Sochi Games, the Norwegian veteran will go on course one second ahead of Dominik Landertinger of Austria and six ahead of both Jaroslav Soukup of Czech Republic and Anton Shipulin of Russia.
Among the other favorites, Martin Fourcade of France starts 12 seconds behind and Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway will have to make up 29 seconds on Bjoerndalen.
"It's a surprise that I win, but I knew I had the shape," said Bjoerndalen, whose favorable start position boosts his chances to earn a record 13th medal at Winter Olympics already on Monday. Bjoerndalen will get several more chances to set the best mark as Norway is a strong medal contender in the team relay competitions.
For all Olympics, only American swimmer Michael Phelps (22) and Soviet gymnastics Larissa Latynina (18) and late Nikolai Andrianov (15) have won more medals.
Bjoerndalen felt "satisfied" after his first individual win in almost two years, adding that getting the gold took the pressure off for the rest of the Olympics.
"I had some bad years with a lot of problems but my motivation was never an issue," said the Norwegian standout, who won gold in the pursuit in 2002 and silver four years later.
The results from Saturday's 10K sprint determine the start order and intervals for the pursuit.
In this format, athletes ski five 2.5K loops. After each of the first four loops, they have a round of shooting — twice prone, twice standing — while each missed target forces them into skiing an extra 150-meter penalty loop. Who crosses the finish line first, wins.
Svendsen will be eager to bounce back from coming a disappointing ninth in the sprint. The world pursuit champion won two of the five World Cup pursuit events this season and leads the discipline standings.
Fourcade has one win, and so does Simon Schempp of Germany. However, after finishing 15th in the sprint, Schempp starts the pursuit 43 seconds off the lead.
Bjoern Ferry won the discipline in Vancouver in 2010 for Sweden's first Olympic gold in men's biathlon since Klas Lestander won the 20K individual in Squaw Valley in 1960, the first time biathlon was contested at the Olympics.
On Monday, Ferry trails Bjoerndalen by 1 minute, 3 seconds when he starts the race in 25th.