- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - While Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has been stealing the biathlon headlines so far, his Norwegian teammates Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Boe are looking to improve when completion resumes at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday.

Norway topped the biathlon medal table four years ago in Vancouver, and is already ahead after the first four events in Sochi as well - but not by as much as expected.

All four competitions so far have been won by different nations. There will be 11 medal events in total at the Games.

Bjoerndalen has been Norway’s best finisher in both men’s competitions so far, winning the 10-kilometer sprint and coming fourth in the 12.5K pursuit.

The 40-year-old veteran needs just one more podium finish for his 13th career medal, which would make him the most successful Winter Olympian of all time.

Bjoerndalen is more likely to achieve that feat in one of the two relay events than in Thursday’s 20K individual race or in Sunday’s 15K mass start.

Svendsen won the individual event in Vancouver four years ago, and this time he hopes he can bounce back from his disappointing start into the Olympics, finishing ninth in the sprint and seventh in the pursuit.

However, the overall World Cup leader is lacking of confidence following his below-par performances.

“I feel I’m in bad form,” Svendsen said. “I hope it changes but it’s hard to see that coming and it’s hard to look at this situation in a positive light.”

Boe was leading men’s biathlon three years ago when he won the overall World Cup title and earned three gold and two silver medals at the world championships.

He is a regular starter for the successful Norwegian relay team but has failed to win a medal in an individual competition since 2011.

In Sochi, Boe has not been a threat for the medalists, placing 39th and 27th respectively.

On the women’s side, Tora Berger was far from her best coming ninth in the sprint, but did well to get silver from an unfavorable start position in the pursuit.

“I think I am in a good physical condition and not far away from those winning,” said Berger, adding that further improving her shooting would enhance her chances in the women’s 15K individual race on Friday.

Berger won gold in that discipline four years ago, and took the world title in 2012 and ‘13.

For Monday’s 12.5K mass start, Synnoeve Solemdal could also be a contender for Norway. She is second to Berger in this season’s World Cup discipline standings.



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