Shiffrin Wins Slalom as Canada Beats U.S. in Hockey Semifinal

American Mikaela Shiffrin won the women’s slalom by more than half a second at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Canada inflicted another hockey loss on the U.S., this time 1-0 in the men’s semifinals.

The 18-year-old Shiffrin, who almost fell in her second run, finished 0.53 of a second ahead of Austria’s Marlies Schild, whose countrywoman Kathrin Zettel was third. Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the event’s defending champion, was fourth.

Shiffrin, a native of Vail, Colorado, is making her first Olympic appearance, and finished sixth in the women’s giant slalom in her first event this week. She’s the world champion in the slalom. She told reporters last night after the race that her near crash “was a crazy moment.”

“I was going very fast and I thought I was not going to make it,” Shiffrin said. “It scared me.”

The Canadians -- whose women beat the U.S. for the gold medal two days ago -- got a goal from Jamie Benn, who converted Jay Bouwmeester’s pass one minute, 41 seconds into the second period. The Canadians were little troubled by the Americans in the final period, when both teams had nine shots on goal.

Tomorrow’s final will pair Canada and Sweden, which beat Finland 2-1. Erik Karlsson and Loui Eriksson scored in the second period for Sweden, the 2006 Olympic champion. Finland’s top goaltender, Tuukka Rask, didn’t play because of the flu.

Today’s Medals

Today there are seven gold medal events, including the men’s and women’s snowboard slalom parallel finals and the men’s ski slalom, as temperatures of 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) are forecast for the mountain. The men’s and women’s speedskating team pursuit finals will be held, and the U.S. will take on Finland for the men’s hockey bronze.

Ukraine yesterday won its first gold of the games, upsetting two-time champion Russia in a biathlon relay, while the hosts won two golds in men’s short-track speedskating. The German and Italian Olympic committees said athletes failed a drug test at the Games, which end tomorrow.

Ukraine’s gold medal -- only its second in a Winter Games - - in the women’s biathlon relay came at the expense of Russia, which had won at the 2006 and 2010 Games. Norway finished third in the 24-kilometer event.

The Ukrainians, who finished sixth in the event in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, won by 26.4 seconds over the Russians, the two-time defending champions. Russia’s Olga Zaitseva was attempting to be the first woman to win three gold medals in a single event in biathlon.

Vita Semernko -- who took bronze in the biathlon 7.5-kilometer sprint event -- became the first Ukrainian athlete to win multiple medals at the winter Games. Ice skater Oksana Bayul won a gold in figure skating at the 1994 Games for the nation.

Doping Cases

In the doping cases, German athlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, a 33-year-old who finished fourth in the women’s biathlon 12.5-kilometer race, failed drug tests, the country’s Olympic committee said on its website. Italian bobsled athlete William Frullani was replaced on the team after failing a drug test, Italy’s national Olympic committee said on its website.

The U.S. is atop the standings with 27 medals, one ahead of the host Russians. Canada has 24, two more than the Netherlands and Norway, which has the most gold medals with 10.

An’s Exploits

The Russians picked up two gold medals in men’s short-track speed skating. Victor An won the 500-meter event, and then set an Olympic record with his teammates in the 5000-meter relay.

In the 500 meters, Wu Dijing of China was second and Canada’s Charle Cournoyer third. In the 5,000 meters, the Russians broke a Korean record An helped set in Turin in 2006. The U.S. team was second and China third.

An won three gold medals and a bronze in Sochi after becoming a Russian citizen. He took three golds and a bronze in Turin for Korea but changed countries when he failed to make the team for the 2010 games.

In the women’s 1,000 meters, Park Seung-Hi won, followed by China’s Fan Kexin and Park’s Korean teammate Shim Suk Hee. American Jessica Smith finished fourth.

In yesterday’s first medal race, Canada’s Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa swept the top two places in the women’s ski cross finals, with Sweden’s Anna Holmlund taking third.

Thompson, 21, and Serwa, 24, led for most of the way as France’s Ophelie David hovered behind before crashing on an attempted landing in the middle of the race, allowing Holmlund to take third.

“I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “I’m so glad I get to share this moment with Kelsey. I’m so glad that I could bring it home for Canada.”

Canada also won its third straight gold medal in men’s curling, defeating Britain 9-3. Sweden won the bronze, overcoming China 6-4. Canada’s victory means it swept the golds in the event, the country’s women winning two days ago.

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