Ferry gives Sweden first gold since ’60

By Arnie Stapleton
Associated Press / February 17, 2010

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WHISTLER, British Columbia - Bjorn Ferry of Sweden kicked up his right leg at the last moment and glided across the finish line on one ski, his poles stretched out in triumph.

“I’m 31, and I’ve waited for this my whole life,’’ Ferry proclaimed after winning the men’s 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit yesterday. Sweden has waited even longer.

Ferry’s biathlon gold medal was the first for the Swedish men at the Winter Games since Klas Lestander won the 20K race at Squaw Valley in 1960.

Ferry took the lead on the final lap after his fourth shoot and had a winning time of 33 minutes 38.4 seconds - 16.5 seconds faster that silver medalist Christoph Sumann of Austria.

France’s Vincent Jay, who started first after winning the 10K sprint in his Olympic debut Sunday thanks to a freak snowstorm that struck mid-race and slowed down the favorites, took the bronze, 28.2 seconds back.

“I’m extremely happy to have this bronze medal, and this time it wasn’t a matter of bad conditions,’’ Jay said. “This time it was an even playing field.’’

Well, not quite. With the starting times in the pursuit based on the finish times of the previous race, Jay was still benefiting from his good fortune 48 hours earlier.

Ferry started 1:12 behind Jay in the eighth position, and Sumann was 1:24 back in 12th place at the start.

Norway great Ole Einar Bjorndalen, who started in 17th place, was in position to challenge for the podium until his only two misses of the day on his final shoot.

America’s best biathlete, Tim Burke, of Paul Smiths, N.Y., didn’t go off until Vincent had been on the course for nearly three minutes, a huge deficit. He finished in 46th, just one place better than after the sprint.

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