Posted: Feb 18, 5:47p ET | Updated: Feb 19, 3:16a ET

Svendsen wins men's individual Olympic gold

Norway sweeps individual event; Svendsen wins second medal of Games

WHISTLER (Reuters) -- Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendsen added a gold medal to the silver he won earlier at the Vancouver Games by winning the 20km individual biathlon under sunny skies at Whistler Olympic Park on Thursday.

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Svendsen's more experienced team mate, 36-year-old Ole Einar Bjørndalen, bidding for his sixth Olympic gold, tied for second place with Sergey Novikov of Belarus.

The 24-year-old Svendsen, who took silver in the sprint, covered the course on a near-cloudless day on Whistler Mountain in 48.22.5, 9.5 seconds quicker than Bjoerndalen and Novikov.

Svendsen said the victory helped him erase memories of the pursuit, in which he finished a disappointing eighth. He tipped his hat to Bjoerndalen who took home his 10th Olympic medal.

"It makes up for the disappointment from the last race," Svendsen told reporters. "I am very proud to be on this team."

Svendsen shot cleanly through the first three rounds and looked as if he would bring home the gold without a fight.

But he missed a target on the final set of shots, opening the door for Novikov who grabbed the lead briefly after shooting a clean program. But Novikov but was unable to capitalize and completed the program tied with Bjoerndalen.

"I wasn't thinking too much after my miss," Svendsen told reporters. "I was just trying to race as hard as I could."

The Norwegians battled for the lead in the early stages but Bjoerndalen missed a shot while standing at the second round of shooting and fell behind.

He had a chance to take the lead after Svendsen's misfire but blew another standing shot during the final frame to take him out of gold-medal contention.

The capacity crowd at Whistler Olympic Park cheered wildly for Svendsen, who acknowledged the flag-waving crew on the podium by pumping his fists in the air.

Björn Ferry of Sweden, who struck gold in the 12.5 km pursuit, finished 42nd and France's Vincent Jay, winner of the 10 km sprint, came home 60th.

America's best biathlete, Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, N.Y., missed five targets, including three on his final shoot, and finished five minutes back in 41st place in what he figured was his last shot at a medal at the Vancouver Games.

He said earlier in the week that he didn't think he could contend in the mass start because he's not skiing well enough right now.

Burke is the first U.S. biathlete ever to don the coveted yellow bib as the overall World Cup leader, and he was hailed as America's best hope for a breakthrough at Vancouver in the sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship.

But Burke was done in by a mid-race snowstorm in the 10-kilometer sprint last Sunday, which served as a double-whammy because the start times for Tuesday's 12.5-kilometer pursuit were based on results from that first race. He finished in 47th in the first race and 46th in the second.

American Jeremy Teela, of Heber City, Utah, was a late scratch Thursday because of sinus troubles. He was replaced by Wynn Roberts, of Battle Lake, Minn., who finished 10½ minutes back, in 86th place, two from the bottom.

Teela's ninth-place finish in the men's 10K on Sunday was the best by an American at any Winter Games as he went out before a heavy snowstorm struck mid-race, hampering the favorites, including Burke.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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