KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) The official timing couldn't tell who had won as the difference was less than one-tenth of a second.
Only a slow motion of TV footage and the finish photo showed whose ski crossed the line first.
Probably the only person in the Laura biathlon stadium to be immediately certain about the result was the winner himself.
Emil Hegle Svendsen edged his French rival Martin Fourcade in a tight finish to the men's 15-kilometer mass start race at the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday.
However, the Norwegian said he had never been in doubt of his victory - even before entering the finish stretch.
''It looked like a close finish but I had quite a good control of him,'' Svendsen said about Fourcade. ''Going into the last hundred meters, I knew I had the gold.''
Svendsen did open up a 10-meter lead over Fourcade and started his celebrations well before actually crossing the line. He admitted he wasn't aware of the Frenchman catching up on him.
Fourcade's sliding finish, pushing his left ski ahead, came too late - but only just.
''I only saw on the finish photo how close it really was,'' Svendsen said. ''But whether you win gold by 10 centimeters of by 10 meters, that doesn't matter.''
- By Eric Willemsen - Twitter http://twitter.com/eWilmedia
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu