Dutch Sweep Speedskating, Miller Is Oldest Alpine Medalist
Jorien ter Mors broke the Olympic record by a half-second while leading a Dutch sweep of the women’s 1500-meter speedskating race, continuing the Netherlands’ dominance of that sport and putting the nation atop the medals standings at the Sochi Games.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won the men’s super-giant slalom and Andrew Weibrecht of the U.S. took silver yesterday. American teammate Bode Miller, 36, tied for bronze, becoming the oldest Alpine Olympic medalist on his third try.
Ireen Wust took silver and Lotte van Beek captured the bronze medal in the speedskating race for the Dutch, who have won 16 of the 24 medals in speedskating events so far in Sochi.
“I never expected to win gold here, but I had a very good race,” ter Mors said. “At the finish line, I looked up and I was first.”
The men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon event was postponed again this morning due to thick clouds and fog along the course, and now is set to start at 3:30 p.m. Sochi time.
The biathlon race had been scheduled for last night. It was delayed until this morning, making it the first medal event at the Sochi Games not to take place on its originally scheduled day, and then was delayed again this morning due to the weather.
The speedskating sweep pushed the Netherlands atop the medals standings with 17. The U.S. and host Russia have 16 apiece, while Norway and Canada are tied for fourth with 14.
A Dutch skater also was fourth in the race, in which the best showing by an American was Heather Richardson in seventh. The Americans continued their speedskating medal shutout in Sochi, where no U.S. skater has finished better than seventh. The U.S. won four medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Today, there are seven medal events, including the rescheduled men’s biathlon race. The women’s event will be held in the evening, and the ice dance free dance and the men’s aerials final will also be held during night sessions.
Ter Mors, 24, won in 1 minute, 53.51 seconds. The Olympic record had been 1:54.02, set by Anni Friesinger of Germany at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Ter Mors was more than half a second faster than Wust -- who now has three medals in Sochi and six Olympic medals overall.
In the men’s super-G, Jansrud finished in 1 minute, 18.14 seconds, with Weibrecht 0.3 seconds behind. Miller tied with Canada’s Jan Hudec for third, 0.53 seconds back.
The 28-year-old Norwegian, who won bronze in the downhill in Sochi, was second in the giant slalom in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where Weibrecht, also 28, was the bronze medalist in the super-G.
“The start was really difficult,” Jansrud told reporters. “It was hard to keep my body on the line. I knew I was OK, but when I finished my run and saw I was first on the board, I couldn’t believe it.”
Miller, who added to his U.S. record with his sixth Alpine medal today, is competing in his fifth Winter Games. He failed in his first two attempts to surpass Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway, who held the mark as the oldest Alpine medalist after taking the super-G at the 2006 Games at the age of 34.
“I made mistakes and the snow is really difficult,” Miller told reporters. “I tried to build pressure on the first couple of turns, but it’s really steep up there. Coming off the first pitch I thought I was in good shape, but the snow is so soft on the flat part on the last part.”
While there is no Alpine skiing today, the men’s snowboard cross and men’s team ski jumping will be held. The forecast on the mountain calls for rain and 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees) just before the snowboard cross final.
Yesterday, Sweden won gold in the 40-kilometer cross-country relay, completing a sweep of the event after their compatriots won the women’s relay a day earlier.
Marcus Hellner waved a small Swedish flag as he crossed the finish line first in 1 hour, 28 minutes, 42 seconds. He kicked off his skis and ran to embrace his teammates. Russia was 27.3 seconds behind, and France was a further 4.6 seconds back for bronze.
Canada’s Dominique Maltais picked up a silver in women’s snowboard cross, which was won by Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic. France’s Chloe Trespeuch was third.
Jansrud extended Norway’s dominance in the super-G, giving the country its fifth such Olympic gold medal out of the eight races contested. He is the fourth consecutive Norwegian Olympic men’s super-G champion.
Hudec is the first Canadian to win an Alpine skiing Olympic medal in 20 years, since Ed Podivinsky’s downhill bronze at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.
Miller is the first American skier to win an Olympic medal in three different Winter Games, and moves into a tie for second place as the most successful U.S. Winter Olympian.
Miller will get more chances to add to his record, as he’s scheduled to compete in the giant slalom on Feb. 19 and perhaps the slalom on Feb. 22.
In figure skating, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the ice dance short dance segment, with Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in second and Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov were third. The gold will be decided in tonight’s free dance competition.
In men’s ice hockey, the U.S. beat Slovenia 5-1 to take its group, while the Russia squad won its shootout with Slovakia as the two winning teams advanced to the quarterfinals. Defending champions Canada defeated Finland 2-1 in overtime as Drew Doughty scored twice.
Phil Kessel, a forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League, had two goals within the first five minutes of the game to put the Americans in control and then added another halfway through the second period by pouncing on a rebound.
In the other Group A game, Russia -- which lost 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout earlier in the tournament -- was held to a 0-0 tie by Slovakia through overtime before winning the match with goals from Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk in the shootout as Slovakia failed on its two attempts.
Canada, which won the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, took the lead on a Doughty goal in the first period, while Tuomo Ruutu deflected a shot past Carey Price in the second.
Sweden and Switzerland qualified from the final group, with the Swedes advancing as the top team having beaten the Swiss 1-0.
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