Starting in his sixth Olympics, veteran Ole Einar Bjoerndalen aims to help Norway top the biathlon medals table at Sochi again, just like four years ago.
Germany and Russia are likely to become the Scandinavians’ toughest opponents over the 11 events, which includes a mixed competition for the first time.
The three nations have dominated Olympic biathlon by winning 46 of the 64 events since the sport made its debut at the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley.
A record quadruple gold medalist in 2002, Bjoerndalen is the most decorated biathlete at major championships. After struggling for a couple of seasons, the 39-year-old Norwegian surged back to form in recent pre-Olympic events.
For the relay competition, Bjoerndalen will team up with the likes of Emil Hegle Svendsen, who has won four World Cup events so far this season — a feat only matched by Martin Fourcade of France.
On the women’s side, Norway’s hopes are boosted by the dominance of overall World Cup champion Tora Berger, who won the Olympic individual race four years ago and has since added eight world titles, including four in team events.
By contrast, the United States are hoping to pick up its first ever medal in the sport, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.