Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first U.S. gold medal in figure skating’s ice dance event as host Russia took the two-man bobsled at the Sochi Games.
Davis and White, who have been skating together for 17 years, beat reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, reversing the medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games. Russians Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov were third.
“I remember the early days, we were so young, but I still remember the first time I skated with Charlie,” Davis said. “I got really lucky. I can’t imagine being in any other place with any other person.”
In the bobsled, Russians Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda won gold and the U.S. team of Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton took bronze in a BMW-designed sled, giving the U.S. its first medal in the event since 1952.
The ice dance and bobsled medals pushed the U.S. and host nation Russia into a tie atop the overall medals standings with 18, one ahead of the Netherlands, which has dominated speedskating. Norway and Canada are tied with 15.
“Dreams are a scary thing, because there is always a chance you won’t accomplish them,” Langton told reporters. “Then there are days like today that make it all worth it.”
Thick fog again postponed a biathlon race and canceled snowboard runs yesterday in balmy Sochi, while the U.S. advanced to the women’s hockey final with a 6-1 defeat of Sweden.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus won her third biathlon gold medal of the Sochi Olympics, skiing to victory in the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start. Germany won gold in team ski jumping to end Austria’s 11-year domination of the event. The Austrians, which suffered the first defeat in a ski jumping team event at the Olympics or world championships since 2003, took the silver medal in the four-man event. Japan took the bronze.
Seven more medal events are scheduled for today, including the women’s Alpine giant slalom.
In the ice dance event, the U.S. couple had a score of 195.52 after last evening’s second portion of the competition, while the Canadian pair had 190.99. The Russians were third with 183.48 points. The Americans, who took silver in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, finished first both in the short dance and free-dance segment.
The Zubkov-Voevoda bobsled finished four runs in 3 minutes, 45.39 seconds for Russia’s first Olympic bobsled gold medal. Switzerland took silver in 3:46.05 and the U.S. duo took bronze in 3:46.27, edging another Russian sled by three-hundredths of a second.
As part of its six-year sponsorship with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG assigned designer Michael Scully -- who has 20 years of experience designing race cars -- to help the American men break their 62-year medal drought in the two-man event.
“This project has been a truly incredible journey,” Scully said last night at a celebratory dinner. “To have contributed technically to this talented team’s historic accomplishment is something I’m profoundly proud of.”
In women’s hockey, Alex Carpenter, Kacey Bellamy and Amanda Kessel scored in a span of just more than five minutes in the first period for the Americans, who will face Canada in the final on Feb. 20. The Canadians defeated Switzerland 3-1 in last night’s other semifinal.
The men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon has been rescheduled three times already. Originally set for two nights ago, it was first moved to yesterday morning, then the afternoon, and then finally reset for today because of thick clouds and fog along the course. It is the first medal event of the Sochi Games not to take place on its originally scheduled day.
Poor visibility also changed the plans for men’s snowboard cross. Seeding runs yesterday morning were canceled after a meeting of International Ski Federation officials. Organizers hoped to skip directly to the quarterfinals, but decided to wait until today after conditions didn’t improve. U.S. snowboarder Nate Holland said it was hard to see anything on the course.
“You’d have to ride by braille,” he told reporters. “Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.”
Domracheva, 27, who also won the 10-kilometer pursuit and 15-kilometer individual events in the past week, finished in 35 minutes, 25.6 seconds in yesterday’s biathlon race. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic was 20.2 seconds behind for silver and Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff took the bronze medal.
“I dreamed about it, to be an Olympic champion, from my childhood,” Domracheva said. “But to get three -- dreams do come true.”
Temperatures hit a high of 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday. Similar temperatures are expected today, along with a 40 percent chance of rain.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said yesterday that the weather has not been a problem in Sochi and that the 2014 Winter Games have been less affected by warm temperatures than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“I think it’s kind of ironic that the biggest problem we’ve had is winter fog,” Adams said. “No event’s been canceled so far. At present conditions are good and we haven’t had any major complaints about the conditions up there.”
In men’s curling, Sweden advanced as the top finisher in the round-robin tournament, followed by Canada and China. Norway and Britain each finished with five wins and four losses, and will play a tiebreaker today.
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