Landertinger top man at biathlon worlds

Austria's Dominik Landertinger won the men's mass start at the biathlon world championships on Saturday, surging from behind to power through a close final lap in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Finishes in 38 minutes 32.58 seconds to edge Austrian teammate

Austria's Dominik Landertinger won the men's mass start at the biathlon world championships Saturday, surging from behind to power through a close final lap.

Landertinger missed three shots and finished in 38 minutes 32.58 seconds in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 8.8 seconds ahead of teammate Christoph Sumann, who took the silver after also missing three targets.

Russia's Ivan Tcherezov crossed the finish line third, 13.8 seconds behind with just two missed targets, both in the first round.

Landertinger started a lowly 19th in the 12.5-kilometre race and missed two targets in the first round but skied assuredly and shot cleanly twice to put himself in the top three.

The Austrian, 20, then took full advantage of race leader Ole Einar Bjorndalen's two missed shots in the final round.

He came off the firing range just a half second behind the Norwegian and speeded ahead in a pack where the top four finishers were less than two seconds apart.

Bjorndalen's flawless shooting had put him ahead after the second round and he kept a cool head to hit all targets in the third despite having to adjust his rifle.

But the triple world champion shot slowly and nervously in his final turn at the range and lost speed shortly after. He finished fourth, 21 seconds behind.

Sumann finished only his second race at the world championships after forgetting to ski two penalty loops and dropping out of the men's sprint, also failing to qualify for the men's pursuit.

Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway made his first start at the championships after missing the previous races due to illness. He finished 12th.

Russia takes women's relay; Canada 9th

On the women's side, Russia triumphed in Saturday's relay with a spirited comeback by the only four athletes available after three teammates were excluded from the world championships for doping.

Olga Zaitseva grabbed a Russian flag from the crowd and held it aloft as she crossed the finish line with a joyful hop after one hour 13 minutes and 12.9 seconds. That was one minute and 15.1 seconds ahead of second-placed Germany. The French team won bronze.

Canada's team of Megan Imrie of Falcon Lake, Man., Zina Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., Sandra Keith of Calgary and Megan Tandy of Prince George, B.C., was ninth in 1:18.33.7.

"My ski speed has been very consistent this year as I have been continually having near top-10 times in skiing," said Kocher, who set the pace for the Canadian women. "We are hungrier than ever for top-10 results and I have been so close every race."

A drawn-out fourth shooting in strong wind had left the Russians in fifth place but crucially escaping penalty laps by the time Anna Boulygina handed the relay to Olga Medvedtseva, who kept the pace. Zaitseva then produced a near-flawless performance, shooting quickly and steadily and needing only one extra clip on the final range to leave an unbridgeable gap.

Svetlana Sleptsova bolstered the Russian team with just two missed shots.

Germany started well through Martina Beck but fell some 33 seconds behind after Magdalena Neuner left two targets untouched.

Andrea Henkel brought her team into the lead, but Kati Wilhelm used five extra shots and suffered a further penalty lap as Zaitseva sped ahead.

Russia's world champion Yekaterina Iourieva and her teammates Albina Akhatova and Dmitri Yaroshenko were barred from the world championships in Pyeongchang after testing positive for banned substances in what International Biathlon Union president Anders Besseberg called a systematic doping scheme.

The French team of Marie Laure Brunet, Sylvie Becaert, Marie Dorin and Sandrine Bailly held a mid-race lead, but fell back after 13 misses shots.