Martin Fourcade, the French biathlete, hit the slopes at the Alpensia in Pyeongchang on Thursday to try and do something the likes of which nobody had achieved in 46 years: defend his gold medal in the men’s 20-kilometer individual competition, which he won at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Please note that this story was published before the primetime presentation on NBC, and as a result does contain spoilers.
The event involves skiing five circuits of four kilometers (2.5 miles), interspersed with four rounds of five-target shooting ranges that alternate between prone and standing. The competition demands athletes to control their breathing and heart rate, as they switch from rapid skiing to holding the rifle steady.
Unfortunately, Fourcade ended out in fifth place after missing twice on the last round of shots. What had seemed such a promising start for Fourcade’s chances suddenly pushed him back, as a minute was added on for each shot missed.
“All of a sudden there is a little bit of frailty to the brilliant Frenchman,” BBC commentator Rob Walker said as Fourcade missed his shot.
Fourcade ended with a time of 48 minutes and 46.2 seconds, 42.4 seconds behind gold medalist Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe. On his Twitter page after the event, he had an optimistic take on events.
“The sport is shit…but that’s why we love it so much!” he said.
Joining Boe on the podium was Slovakia’s Jakov Fak, whise 48 minutes 9.3 seconds time earned him the silver, and Austria’s Dominik Landertinger took the bronze medal with his time of 48 minutes 18 seconds. While Fak and Landertinger missed none of their 20 shots, Boe missed one each on the first and last set. Tim Burke, the United States’ highest-placed biathlete, ended in 41st place with four penalties and a time of 52 minutes and 5.7 seconds.