German Neuner adds gold to silver

By Mattias Karen
Associated Press / February 17, 2010

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WHISTLER, British Columbia - Magdalena Neuner of Germany won the women’s 10-kilometer biathlon pursuit yesterday for her second medal at the Vancouver Olympics.

Neuner built a commanding lead by shooting cleanly at the second prone position to pull away from silver medalist Anastazia Kuzmina of Slovakia. Neuner was never threatened the rest of the way despite missing one target at each of the two standing shootings. Marie Laure Brunet of France took the bronze.

Neuner entered the stadium alone, raising her fist to salute the flag-waving German fans as she sprinted down the last straightaway to finish in 30 minutes, 16 seconds.

Kuzmina pulled within 6.2 seconds after hitting all five targets at the final shooting but couldn’t match Neuner’s pace toward the finish and ended up 12.3 seconds behind. Brunet was 28.3 seconds back.

Neuner and Kuzmina switched spots on the podium after the Slovakian won Saturday’s 7.5K sprint ahead of the German. The results from that race carried over to the pursuit, which features a staggered start with the sprint winner going first.

Neuner started just two seconds behind Kuzmina and the duo skied together until the second shooting, where the Slovakian missed her fourth target and was forced to go around the 150-meter penalty loop. That allowed Neuner to take a 23-second lead, which she never looked likely to give up.

She did show slightly shaky nerves by missing her 20th and final target, but had enough power left in her legs to extend her lead over the last two kilometers.

Helena Jonsson, the World Cup leader and pursuit world champion, had another disappointing race. She missed two targets in the first standing shooting to slip from 12th to 14th.

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