KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — With 2.5 kilometers still to ski, Martin Fourcade was feeling so strong he started celebrating his first Olympic gold medal.
Having hit all five targets in his final round of shooting, the Frenchman stretched his arm in the air and pumped his fist.
Minutes later, Fourcade crossed the finish line at a leisurely pace to confirm what he already knew — he had won gold in the men's 12.5K pursuit at the Sochi Olympics.
"It was incredible. I knew the weight of that shoot to make sure (of the gold)," Fourcade said. "I knew that if I shot clean, I was Olympic champion. So my gesture was because I was so happy. It was no arrogance at all, it was just happiness."
Fourcade's friend and teammate, Jean Guillaume Beatrix, earned bronze, and both put France onto the medals table at the Sochi Games.
Fourcade missed one target in the standing shooting portion of the race, which he finished in 33 minutes, 48.6 seconds. Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic finished 14.1 seconds later to take silver, and Beatrix was 24.2 seconds behind Fourcade in third.
Minnesota competitor for the United States, Leif Nordgren, placed 53rd. After the race Nordgren tweeted, "Ouch. Well that was certainly not the best race ever... Pretty pathetic if you ask me! Oh well its over now, on to the Individual..."