Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen's early celebration in the 15-kilometer mass start biathlon nearly cost him a gold medal as the hard-charging Frenchman Martin Fourcade nearly caught him at the end of the race Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported that Svendsen
, who had broken away from the pack in the contest, rose his arms in victory down the final stretch, apparently unaware that his rival, Fourcade, was quickly making up ground in hopes to steal first place from him.
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Both biathletes finished with a time of 42 minutes, 29.1 seconds, stunning Svendsen, but he managed to hold on to the gold medal based on a photo finish, tweeted out by Fox Sports.
Svendsen seemed to blow off his early celebration.
"But I actually had pretty good control even though it looked very, very close," Svendsen told The Associated Press after the race. "It looked closer than it was for me."
Fourcade, who was trying to win his third straight gold medal after winning the pursuit and the individual race last week, lost to Svendsen in a photo finish of the pursuit at last year's world championships, according to the AP.
"We have a great rivalry," Fourcade told The Associated Press after the razor-thin loss. "I am happy for him. I had imagined before the race I could win gold. I am both happy and disappointed but he deserved this medal. He has brought a lot to biathlon in the last years."
The Czech Republic's Ondrej Moravec captured the bronze medal, finishing 13.8 behind Svendsen and Fourcade. Moravec had won the silver medal in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
The mass start race was postponed twice this Olympics because of bad weather at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Centre in Sochi.
Svendsen's teammate Ole Einar Bjoerndalen missed out a record 13th Winter Olympic medal after finishing 22nd, but will have another chance during the mixed and men's relays.
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