YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Sochi 2014: Biathletes, cross-country skiers are ready for show to begin

'I only want to get going,' says French biathlete Martin Fourcade, one of the favorites to medal. The two sports will take place at the Laura venue, which has two stadiums and course systems.

February 07, 2014|By David Wharton
  • Martin Fourcade of France skis during a biathlon training session at the Laura Centre in Rosa Khutor before the start of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
Martin Fourcade of France skis during a biathlon training session at the… (Pierre-Philippe Marcou…)

SOCHI, Russia — It seems Martin Fourcade has grown tired of waiting.

The French biathlete ranks among the favorites to medal when his sport begins a full schedule of events Saturday at the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center.

"Over four years we've spoken of this, of being in a 'box' that's all about training," he told the Olympic News Service this week. "And so I'm ready to leave it. I only want to get going."

Fourcade will face tough competition from two Norwegians. Emil Hegle Svendsen dominated at the 2013 world championships and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen needs one more medal to equal the record of 12 for the Winter Games.

Among the women, Darya Domracheva of Belarus arrives as the No. 2 athlete in the World Cup standings. She had a slew of high finishes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but ended up with only a bronze.

"I don't want to speak about any medal hopes about Sochi, in order not to scare away my luck," she said this time around.

Tora Berger of Norway is the current top-ranked female biathlete and Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic is another top contender.

With its two stadiums and two separate course systems, the Laura venue also will be home to cross country skiing.

American fans will have the rare chance to root for a favorite of their own as Kikkan Randall figures to make some news in the women's competition.

Randall has been the best sprinter in the world lately, winning two consecutive world cup races last month. She is trying to break a U.S. medal drought that dates back to Bill Koch in 1976.

"What's cool is that I've been working for this for a long time," she said. "It feels like a new era of skiing for the U.S. I think we've already won a lot of the battle."

Marit Bjoergen of Norway won three golds in Vancouver and five medals at the world championships. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland should be strong in the 10-kilometer classic.

Among the men, Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan and a pair of Norwegians — Petter Northug Jr. and Martin Johnsrud Sundby — will be favorites for the podium.

Saturday's schedule includes the men's 10-kilometer sprint in the biathlon and the women's skiathlon 7.5-kilometer classic and 7.5-kilometer free. The competition continues through Feb. 23, the final day of the Games.

Twitter: @LATimesWharton

Los Angeles Times Articles