Russia take biathlon gold as Bjoerndalen misses out
L-R: Gold medalists Russia's Anton Shipulin, Dmitry Malyshko, Evgeny Ustyugov, Alexey Volkov celebrate at the podium in the Men's Biathlon 4x7.5 km Relay Medal Ceremony during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014, in Rosa Khutor - by Pierre-Philippe Marcou
Four teams were neck-and-neck on the final leg of the relay but Norway's anchorman Emil Hegle Svendsen endured a disastrous final standing shoot that put his team out of the running.
Russian home favourite Anton Shipulin secured the gold by sprinting clear of Germany's Simon Schempp in the home straight, finishing in 1 hour 12min 15.9sec with Germany 3.5 sec behind. Austria took the bronze.
Bjoerndalen set a record at these Games by winning a total of 13 medals at Winter Olympics but remains equal with Norwegian cross country skier Bjoern Daehlie on the most golds at eight.
He is widely expected to retire after the Olympics.
Taking the third leg, Bjoerndalen handed over to Svendsen in a winning position after missing no targets in both the prone and the standing positions.
But his teammate then endured a meltdown on the shooting range and cut a distraught figure afterwards as his teammates tried to console him.
"I'm very sad. It was my fault," said the inconsolable Svendsen.
"I have no explanation. It's very hard, of course, and I think it's most disappointing for Tarjei Boe and Johannes Thinges Boe who got us so high up," he said, referring to the Norwegian athletes on the first and second legs.
Bjoerndalen expressed understanding, saying the kind of calamity that Svendsen endured on the range had happened to all biathletes at some point in their career.
"We'll try to support him," said Bjoerndalen. "The fact that this happened to Emil who was so well prepared, shows it can happen to everyone, and it can happen to the best of us."
The Russian win was a long awaited success for the home nation in one of its biggest televised winter sports that had so far brought no gold medals these Games.