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.