Penalties to the two favorites made the men's 10km sprint Sunday a wide-open event early, and with that, it created an electric atmosphere.With the pre-Olympics predictions quickly irrelevant, it was Germany's Arnd Peiffer who took home the gold medal Sunday at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea.Peiffer finished the sprint in 23 minutes, 38.8 seconds. He shot clean in both of his shooting bouts."It's crazy because I didn't expect it was possible for me to be on top," he said. "I wouldn't say I am an underdog, but I'm not one of the top guys."It was the 30-year-old Peiffer's first Olympic gold medal and his second Olympic medal.How is he going to celebrate?"We are going to drink a beer together," Peiffer said. "Not a small one, half a liter."Michal Krcmar, of the Czech Republic, captured the silver medal and Italy's Dominik Windisch got the bronze.Krcmar finished in 23 minutes, 43.2 seconds for his first Olympic medal. He shot clean as well. Windisch closed at 23 minutes, 46.5 seconds, but he had one penalty.
The two favorites, France's Martin Fourcade and Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe, struggled with their shooting and as a result, had disappointing showings.Fourcade and Thingnes Boe fell out of contention after their first shooting bouts.Fourcade finished in eighth place, closing the race in 24 minutes, 0.1 seconds, but his three missed shots forced him off the podium."I am extremely disappointed," Fourcade said. "I missed a chance that will not show up again."
Thingnes Boe's run was going smoothly until his prone shooting bouts. He missed three shots, which forced him to take three penalty loops. That alone was enough to hurt his chances at a medal.Then, during his next shooting bout, the 24-year-old missed another one, this time in the standing position. His four penalties ultimately proved too costly for him to overcome.Thingnes Boe finished in 24 minutes, 55.5 seconds, shot 6 of 10 and did not medal. He finished 31st."Not the best race for me," Thingnes Boe said. "I missed on the wind, did my penalty loops and ended up in 31. I knew with the wind you could miss today and I tried to attack more."The race tomorrow will be very hard. I have no chance with mistakes. I need the perfect race to fight for a medal. I am maybe too far behind, but still, I have five more chances."It is Norway's first Winter Olympics since 1990 without the "King of Biathlon" Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who, at 44, did not make the Norwegian team for the 2018 PyeongChang Games.Bjoerndalen is the most decorated Winter Olympian of all-time with 13 Olympic medals.In fact, Thingnes Boe was not the lone Norwegian who struggled with shooting Sunday. Norway biathletes combined to miss 10 shots between four biathletes."The sprint was not my day and I have to forget about it," Thingnes Boe said. "I will shake hands with Martin Fourcade afterward because it was not our day. This is biathlon, it's the Olympics. It's hard."U.S. Biathlon, which entered the PyeongChang Games with expectations of winning its first Olympic medal, had another showing leaving more to be desired.
Lowell Bailey was the highest-finishing American, coming in in 33rd place. Bailey finished in 24 minutes, 54.4 seconds and missed one shot.The good news for Team USA is that Bailey, Tim Burke and Leif Nordgren all qualified for the men's 12.5km pursuit by finishing in the top 60. Sean Doherty was the lone American man who did not qualify for the men's pursuit.Emily Dreissigacker was the lone American woman to qualify for the women's 10km pursuit.Biathlon continues Monday with the women's pursuit and men's pursuit. The women's pursuit begins at 5:10 a.m. EST, while the men's gets underway at 7 a.m. Both can be streamed on NBCOlympics.com.