The men’s 15km Mass Start Biathlon in Sochi featured one of the most exciting moments in sports: a true photo finish.
On Tuesday, February 18th, the men’s 15 km mass start ended in the closest finish humanly possible. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway and Martin Fourcade of France battled for dominance, each skiing as fast as he was able, racing for gold.
Mere meters from the end, Svendsen had the lead. Fourcade veered to the left, putting on an extra ounce of speed. As the finish line neared, he pushed out one ski in a desperate bid to put just one foot across the finish line ahead of his opponent. Both athletes crossed in a photo finish.
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You can watch video of the finish here.
Technically, they both finished with a time of 42:21.1. In the end, it came down to their boot, not their skis. The judge determined that whichever athlete’s boot first crossed the finish line would win the gold for the event. Svendsen took home the gold, his first medal in Sochi, beating out Fourcade’s hope to win his third gold medal in 2014.
Svendsen’s victory might have been cleaner, had he been less certain of it. As he neared the finish line, the Norwegian athlete allowed himself to slow down and throw his arms in the air in celebration of his seemingly imminent gold. It was this split-second decision that allowed Fourcade to come so close to taking the gold for himself.
Though Svendsen won in the end, one thing is certain: this is an athlete who will save future celebration until the race is over.
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Have you ever seen a closer finish, in any race?