WHISTLER (AP) -- Ole Einar Bjørndalen saw his hopes for a sixth gold medal disappear (for now) in a flurry of snow and errant shots.
Now his chances of winning the pursuit may be gone as well.
In an uncharacteristic display of shaky marksmanship, the Norwegian five-time Olympic biathlon champion missed three shots in the prone position Sunday to fall out of contention in the 10-kilometer sprint at the Vancouver Games.
With Vincent Jay of France taking advantage of better weather conditions to speed away with the gold medal, Bjoerndalen now has 1 minute, 41.1 seconds to make up in Tuesday's 12.5K pursuit -- a tall order even for the sport's all-time great.
"I'm far behind, but anything is possible if I shoot well," the 36-year-old Bjoerndalen said.
That sure didn't happen Sunday.
His three misses from the prone position matched the most of any competitor and his four total penalties tied for second most.
"I was very bad at the first shooting," Bjoerndalen said. "It was not because of the conditions, it was my own mistake. It just wasn't my day. ... I did two very good rounds, but when the snow came down it was hopeless."
So it was, for everyone but the early starters.
Jay was able to ski two of his three laps around the course before the thick sheet of wet snowflakes started coming down over Whistler Olympic Park to slow down his main rivals. After finishing the interval-start race without a miss, Jay stood by and watched the pre-race favorites falter one by one.
"I was very lucky as far the weather conditions," said Jay, who had bib No. 6 among 88 racers. "But the shooting was all my doing, and had nothing to do with the climate."
Jay was the second surprise winner in two days at the biathlon venue -- Anastazia Kuzmina of Slovakia won the women's sprint Saturday. Jay seems right at home in Whistler, where last season he enjoyed his only World Cup victory.
"I love this place," said Jay, who has never had another top-three finish on the World Cup circuit. "There is nothing very special about the course. There's no great decent or uphill part of the course. But the whole thing really pleases me."
About the only thing that pleases Bjoerndalen these days is a gold medal. After winning five in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics -- including a sweep of all four events in Salt Lake City -- the Norwegian failed to add to his tally in Turin, having to settle for two silvers and a bronze.
He'll have three more chances to make up for it after the pursuit -- with a mass-start race, relay and individual event still to come -- but don't expect Bjoerndalen to save his strength on Tuesday.
"I'll do what I can," he said. "Anything is possible."