French biathlete Justine Braisaz-Bouche coped best with windy conditions to deny Norway another gold in the 12.5km mass start at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The 25-year-old picked up the first major title of her career thanks to missing just one shot from her last 10 in the standing position and had time to pick up le Tricolore on the home straight to win by 15.3 seconds over Tiril Eckhoff, with Marte Olsbu Roeiseland taking a fifth medal of the Games by winning bronze.
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The early pace was set by the two favourites for the race - Roeiseland and Eckhoff - and they both had a clean first shoot, as did the likes of Hanna Oeberg, Julia Simon and Linn Persson.
The Norwegian pair could not be separated and they were again perfect in the second prone shoot, but their other rivals were faltering. Simon picked up one shooting penalty and it meant Roeiseland and Eckhoff had almost a 23-second advantage over the rest of the pack.
The conditions were extremely challenging with strong winds blowing across the shooting range and the standings started to change after the first standing shoot. Eckhoff struggled to compose herself and after missing her first shot, bent her knees, took a deep breath and reset.
Roeiseland and Eckhoff both missed twice but it was the former who held on to her advantage with her team-mate dropping 7.5 seconds off the pace. Roeiseland now had new rivals in Braisaz-Bouchet of France and Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg, after both managed clean shoots.
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Braisaz-Bouchet produced a superb next 2.5km to race over 15 seconds into the lead coming into the final standing shoot. She missed the first but cleared the next four in quick succession meaning she would only have one penalty loop. Eckhoff and Roeiseland missed two, and the gold effectively belonged to Braisaz-Bouchet, who only needed to cruise to the finish.
The focus was now on who would complete the podium and Eckhoff had a relatively untroubled route to the line, with Roeiseland - who had claimed three golds and a bronze already - taking bronze, as Braisaz-Bouchet took a dominant victory.
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