KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Anton Shipulin had Russia's first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics all but won, heading toward victory in front of a frenzied home crowd.
Then, as so often happens in biathlon, a wayward shot ruined his race.
Shipulin finished fourth in the men's 10-kilometer sprint Saturday after missing a target at the final shooting station. That forced him to ski a penalty loop and he ended up 6.4 seconds behind winner Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway — and just 0.7 seconds behind bronze medalist Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic.
That left Russia still waiting for its first medal in Sochi.
"I hate myself for it," said a disappointed Shipulin. "Twenty minutes ago my fate was decided — my happiness, my dream, and I spoiled it myself."
Biathlon is one of the most popular winter sports in Russia, and Shipulin and his teammates were cheered on loudly at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center. A victory here on the first day of medal events would have been the perfect way for the host nation to start its games, and a big cheer went up every time one of the Russian skiers hit the target.