Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Ukraine won its first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, claiming the women's 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay over host Russia.
It marked the second medal of these games for the Ukraine, with Vita Semerenko having claimed bronze in the women's 7.5-kilometer sprint back on Feb. 9. Semerenko was the first of four skiers in Friday's relay.
The gold medal comes on the same day reports surfaced out of Kiev that an agreement had been reached between Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and protestors to end the deadly violence that has ravaged the country's capital over the last few days.
Ukraine finished with a total time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 2.5 seconds, putting it 26.4 seconds ahead of Russia.
Norway claimed bronze with a total time of 1:10:40.1, well ahead of the fourth-place Czech Republic.
Semerenko's miss in the second shooting session of the first leg was the Ukraine's lone miss in its first 25 shots as Juliya Dzhyma was perfect in her two shooting attempts. That put her country 26.8 seconds ahead following the second leg.
Things got tighter when Valj Semerenko, twin sister of Vita, had three misses on her second shooting session. Both Russia and Norway went perfect to keep things close.
However, Olena Pidhrushna missed just one shot in the fourth leg to keep the Ukraine in the front of the field.
Russia was denied a third straight gold medal in this event, while the Germans failed to reach the podium for the first time since the first medals were awarded in this event in 1992.
Germany, which took bronze in Vancouver, was 16th after the first leg as Franziska Preuss missed four shots, though solid efforts by Franziska Hildebrand and Laura Dahlmeier in the final two legs got their country up to 11th place.
The U.S. was fifth after the third leg, but Annelies Cook missed twice in both of her shooting attempts as the Americans finished seventh with a total time of 1:12:14.2.