Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. men’s ice hockey team defeated the host Russians in a shootout at the Sochi Winter Games as Austria’s Anna Fenninger overcame warm weather and a difficult course to win the women’s Super-G ski race.
T.J. Oshie’s goal gave the Americans a 3-2 victory in last night’s shootout after the teams were tied 2-2 through overtime. The preliminary-round game took on added significance because of the Russian team’s struggles in recent Olympic Games, and President Vladimir Putin watched in the arena, saying his team looked “decent.”
It wasn’t all bad news for the Russians, who took the top two spots in a men’s short-track race and a gold in men’s skeleton to push the host nation to the top of the medal standings, one ahead of the U.S. and the Netherlands.
Swedish women gave Norway’s cross-country relay team its first loss in any major event since 2009, and U.S. speedskaters changed their race suits because of concerns that their high-tech uniforms were slowing them down.
It didn’t help as an American didn’t finish higher than seventh in the men’s 1500 meters. Shani Davis of the U.S., who won silver in that event in the previous two Olympics, was 11th.
In hockey, the Russians took the lead in the second period when Pavel Datsyuk scored, only to have the U.S. tie the game seven minutes later on a Cam Fowler power-play goal. Another power-play goal, this one by Joe Pavelski, gave the Americans the lead in the third.
Datsyuk answered back on a power play with his second goal. The Russians were then denied a lead with five minutes left in the third period when a goal by Fyodor Tyutin was disallowed because the net was off its mooring.
In overtime, American Patrick Kane’s shot was stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky on a breakaway that would have ended the game with three minutes left.
It went to a shootout, which the Americans won on Oshie’s goal.
Today there are five medal events, including the women’s 1500-meter speedskating and the men’s Super-G ski race, which was moved an hour earlier to avoid slushy snow. The forecast on the mountain is 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) for the start, with temperatures rising to 13 degrees in the afternoon.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said while the weather was unpredictable, the Sochi organizers have been on top of keeping the snow in good condition, pointing out that no competitions have been canceled or moved. The 2010 Olympics in Canada also had to deal with warm temperatures, he said.
“We had much worse issues in Vancouver,” he told reporters. “There is a lot of snow up in the mountains. Compared to previous games, I think we are in a good place.”
In yesterday’s women’s Super-G, the 24-year-old Fenninger completed the course in 1 minute, 25.52 seconds, 0.55 seconds faster than Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, 29. Fenninger’s compatriot, Nicole Hosp, 30, won bronze after taking the silver in the super combined.
Fenninger is the fourth Austrian to win the event in the eight games since it was added in 1988, and takes over from 2010 Olympic champion Andrea Fischbacher, who failed to make the Austrian squad this year. The course, set by Austrian Alpine skiing coach Florian Winkler, featured tight turns that helped cause eight of the first 11 starters to fail to finish.
“It’s such a difficult track, but I have to give praise to the coach who set the course because you have to be so tactical,” Fenninger said.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze, the world champion and co-champion of the Sochi women’s downhill, finished fifth. Women’s downhill bronze medalist Lara Gut of Switzerland was fourth.
In the women’s cross-country relay, Charlotte Kalla closed a 25-second final-leg gap to the leaders as Sweden came back to win the women’s cross-country skiing relay to break Norway’s hold on the event.
Sweden was 25.7 seconds behind when Kalla took over on the fourth and last 5-kilometer leg of the race. She made up the time and passed the leaders in the final straightaway. Finland was 0.5 seconds behind with Germany finishing 0.9 seconds back.
It was the first time since the 2009 world championships -- won by Finland -- that a nation other than Norway won a major women’s relay event. Norway, which had won the 10 World Cup and world championship relays it had entered since taking the gold at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, finished fifth, 53.6 seconds behind. France was fourth.
Kalla was the silver medalist in the skiathlon and the 10-kilometer classic, and is the first athlete to win three medals at the Winter Games in Russia.
It was Sweden’s first gold medal of the Sochi Games. Russia picked up a gold and a silver in the men’s 1000-meter short track final, and China won the women’s 1500-meter short track event.
In men’s skeleton, Alexander Tretiakov won by finishing his four runs in 3 minutes, 44.29 seconds, 0.81 seconds ahead of Latvia’s Martins Dukurs. American Matthew Antoine was third.
The hosts now have 15 medals. The Netherlands and the U.S. are one behind, while Norway has 13. Canada and Germany have 12 medals, although the Germans have a games-best seven golds.
The men’s 1500-meter speedskating final took on added importance as the U.S. team switched to a less technical Under Armour Inc. suit after a report said previous suits were slowing American skaters.
Poland’s Zbigniew Brodka won in a race so close it was determined by a photo finish. Koen Verweij of the Netherlands had an identical time of 1 minute, 45.00 seconds on the Adler Arena’s giant scoreboards when he finished, but timekeepers ruled that Brodka won by three thousandths of a second -- 1:45.006 to 1:45.009. Denny Morrison of Canada won the bronze medal in 1:45.22.
The hosts took the top two spots in the men’s 1000-meter short-track speedskating event as Victor An and Vladimir Grigorev held off Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands.
In the women’s 1500-meter short-track race, China’s Zhou Yang retained her short-track gold in the women’s 1500 meters, beating Korea’s Shim Suk Hee and Italy’s Arianna Fontana.
Poland’s Kamil Stoch took his second gold medal of the Sochi Games by winning the men’s large hill individual ski jumping final. The 26-year-old, who also won the normal hill event at these games, finished with 278.7 points, while second-placed Noriaki Kasi, 41, of Japan, had 277.4. Slovenia’s Peter Prevc was third.
Maria Komissarova, a Russian women’s ski cross athlete, suffered a spinal injury and underwent surgery at a hospital near the Olympic venues, officials said.
“What we know is that she is in surgery right now,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told reporters. “She had total body function when she arrived at the hospital.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Elser in Sochi at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org