KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — After three kilometers, Darya Domracheva took the lead and never looked back.
Domracheva started Tuesday’s women’s biathlon 10K pursuit at the Sochi Olympics 32 seconds behind sprint champion Anastasiya Kuzmina, but she overtook her Slovakian rival after the first shooting and raced ahead.
The Belarusian biathlete could even afford to miss the 20th and final target and still comfortably win the gold medal in in 29 minutes, 30.7 seconds.
Tora Berger of Norway was 37.6 seconds behind to take silver. Teja Gregorin of Slovenia trailed Domracheva by 42.0 to claim bronze.
It was Domracheva’s second Olympic medal but first gold. She won bronze in the 15K individual race in Vancouver four years ago.
Domracheva won the pursuit World Cup in 2012 and has been runner-up in the overall standings for the past two seasons. She currently is second again, trailing Berger by a mere 6 points after 13 races.
Domracheva was the 2012 world champion in the discipline, and she added a world title in the mass start last year.
Domracheva finished ninth in Sunday’s sprint, which determined the start order and interval for the pursuit. But she attacked from the start and at the first shooting had already reduced her deficit to Kuzmina to just 10 seconds.
Domracheva skied fast and shot near-flawlessly, missing only once. But even that miss didn’t hurt, since by then she had stretched her lead to almost 40 seconds.
After winning the sprint, Kuzmina began as one of the favorites, thanks to her head start. But she missed one target in her second shooting, and another in her final round. That forced her to ski penalties of 250 meters, leaving her out of contention for the medals.
The next women’s biathlon event at the Sochi Olympics is the 15K individual race on Friday.