The Mulder twins led a Dutch sweep of a speedskating sprint and Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch kept her super combined Alpine skiing title by overcoming American Julia Mancuso on a balmy day at the Sochi Games.
Michel Mulder won gold and his twin brother, Ronald, took bronze in the 500-meter speedskating race last night. Teammate Jan Smeekens captured the silver medal.
They are not the first twins to win medals in a Winter Olympics event -- Americans Phil and Steve Mahre finished 1-2 in the 1984 men’s slalom. They’re not even the first siblings to capture medals in an event in Sochi -- Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe won gold and silver in women’s moguls freestyle skiing three days ago.
“When I crossed the line I just didn’t know, and then I saw that I had won, and I couldn’t believe it,” Michel Mulder said. “Now I have won everything there is to win. After all this work, I’m the Olympic champion, I can’t believe it.”
Michel Mulder, 27, finished the two-race event in 69.31 seconds, 0.01 seconds faster than Smeekens. Ronald Mulder was 0.15 seconds behind in third.
Mancuso -- whose bronze is her fourth Olympic Alpine medal -- led after the downhill portion of the combined event before finishing 13th fastest in the afternoon session. That allowed Hoefl-Riesch and Austria’s Nicole Hosp to pass her.
“This feels like a fairy tale,” Hoefl-Riesch said. “My confidence was a bit knocked before I went down, especially because the downhill didn’t go great.”
In men’s moguls, Alex Bilodeau of Canada became the first freestyle skier in Olympics history to win back-to-back gold medals. The 26-year-old, who won gold four years ago in Vancouver, scored a 26.31 in the six-man finals to claim Canada’s third gold medal of the games.
Canadian Mikael Kingsbury got the moguls silver with a score of 24.71, and Russian Alexandr Smyshlyaev received the bronze with a score of 24.94.
Today, seven medals are to be awarded, including women’s ski slopestyle and the men’s halfpipe finals, where American Shaun White, the so-called Flying Tomato, will defend his titles from the 2006 and 2010 Games.
Yesterday’s was Hoefl-Riesch’s third gold, after she also won the slalom four years ago. The 29-year-old German finished yesterday’s two-run event in 2 minutes, 34.62 seconds. Hosp, a 30-year-old who took a silver in the slalom at the 2006 Games, finished in 2:35.02 and Mancuso’s time was 2:35.15.
Mancuso, also 29, who won silver in the super combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games, hopped up and down on her skis in glee after crossing the finish line and seeing her time.
“I feel amazed, this has been an unbelievable day,” said Mancuso, who dedicated the win to her grandfather, Denny Tuffanelli, who died last February. “He had always encouraged me, but he passed away a year ago. We had hoped he would make it to this games, but it’s a great feeling that he has been watching from above.”
The Netherlands, Norway and Canada are atop the Sochi Games medal list with seven apiece. Russia is next with six, followed by the U.S. with five.
Canada also added a win in the men’s 1,500-meter short-track speedskating. Charles Hamelin, 29, won the gold medal in 2 minutes, 14.985 seconds, edging 17-year-old Tianyu Han of China and Victor An, 28, of Russia in the final.
France took two medals in the men’s 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit as Martin Fourcade won and Jean Guillaume Beatrix finished third. Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic took silver. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, 40, of Norway, who was trying to win his Winter Games-record 13th medal, finished fourth -- just 1.7 seconds behind the bronze medalist.
The temperature reached 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) yesterday in sun-drenched Sochi. There has not been any rain or snow since the Olympics opened, though forecasters said there is a 60 percent chance of rain today.
The first training run for a men’s ski jumping event was canceled yesterday because the snow was too soft in the landing area, and the downhill training run for the men’s combined Alpine event was moved from today to Feb. 13 because of the warm weather. A training session in the men’s halfpipe was switched from yesterday morning to the evening because of soft snow.
“This is probably the sunniest place in Russia,” Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said this morning in a news conference.
Sochi Olympic organizers also said that some volunteer workers are being given seats to ensure facilities are closer to capacity during Russia’s first Winter Games.
Almost 60,000 people bought tickets to events two days ago, the second full day of competition at the Olympics, Kosterina said. Still, some seats were unused, either because they were unsold, ticketholders don’t arrive in time or they were reserved for media or Olympic family members, she said.
“We have a personal motivation program,” Kosterina said. “Volunteers who are not on shift may take part in it. It depends on the event. If we see there isn’t a turnout and there are seats available, yes, we invite some of the volunteers to join in.”