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SOCHI, February 09, 6:58 /ITAR-TASS/. Eight sets of medals will be at stake at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Sunday for athletes competing in biathlon, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping, luge, speed skating, snowboard and figure skating. Russian athletes have good chances of winning medals in team figure skating, women biathlon sprint, men’s skiathlon and in luge singles.
Olympic alpine skiing in men’s downhill competition begins at 11:10. Athletes competing in the discipline have only one attempt to show their results. Russia is represented by two alpine skiers, who are Alexander Khoroshilov and Slovenian-born Alexander Glebov. This will be the third Olympics for Khoroshilov, 29, and his best result at the previous Games was 21st place. Glebov, 30, is a debutant of the Olympic Games and his best downhill result at the World Cup championships was the 35th place.
The list of strong medal contenders in men’s downhill includes Vancouver Olympics silver medalist and World Champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway as well as Bode Miller from the United States. Switzerland’s Didier Defago, whose Olympic gold at the 2010 Winter Games in Canada’s Vancouver came as a sensation, will also take part in the competition.
Men’s skiathlon, a relatively young discipline of cross country that consists of 15 km classic and 15 km free skiing begins at 14:00. Victory contenders in this discipline are well known and are Norway’s Petter Jr. Northug, 2013 World Champion Dario Cologna of Switzerland and 2010 Vancouver Olympics champion Marcus Hellner of Sweden. Russian cross country skiers also have good chances of racing for the medal and they are Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Ilia Chernousov and Evgeniy Belov.
Ladies’ speed skating 3,000 meters competition starts at 15:30. The most likely candidates to race for the Olympic gold in this discipline are Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova, the 2010 Olympic champion, and Irene Wust of the Netherlands, the 2006 Olympics champion in Italy’s Turin. Germany’s 41-year-old skater Claudia Pechstein is also a strong contender for the Olympic victory. She finished in the third place after Sablikova and Wust at the last World Championships, held in Sochi.
Ladies’ biathlon 7.5 km sprint begins at 18:30. This season’s strongest biathlon skiers are Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, Tora Berger of Norway and Selina Gasparin of Switzerland. However, the number of contenders in the sprint race is high as usually and it is almost impossible to predict the winner. Russian women are also likely to show good results and they are Ekaterina Shumilova, Olga Vilukhina, Olga Zaitseva and Yana Romanova. Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics champion, will also race in the sprint.
Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won gold on Saturday in men’s biathlon 10 km sprint bringing the number of his Olympic champion titles to seven. Austria’s Dominik Landertinger took the silver and the bronze went to Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic. Anton Shipulin showed the best result among the Russian athletes competing in the sprint by finishing in the fourth place.
The first ever Olympic figure skating team competition will come to a conclusion on Sunday night. The competition will begin at 19:00 with men team free skating, which is followed by ladies team free skating at 20:05 and then pairs ice dance at 21:10.
On Saturday, the Russian figure skating team leaped forward for the victory at the Olympics by securing 47 points in the lead leaving the closest contenders, Canada, in the second place with 41 points. The victorious margin came after the performance of Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev in pairs ice dance short program as they finished with the third result. Yulia Lipnitskaya finished ladies short program with the top result and Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov pair also finished the free skating program in the first place.
The Olympic medals events on Sunday will be completed with ski jumping in men’s normal hill individual, which is set to start at 21:30. Saturday’s qualifiers saw all four Russian jumpers competing in the event to the next round. They are Denis Kornilov, Ilmir Khazetdinov, Mikhail Maksimochkin and Alexei Romashov.
Russia will also play its first match in women ice hockey against Germany starting at 17:00. The Russian team shares its Group B with Sweden, Germany and Japan, while the strongest Group A is comprised of the teams from the United States, Canada, Finland and Switzerland. After all matches in Group A are played, the top two teams will go to the semifinals stage and the remaining two teams will play for the spot in the next round against the top two teams from Group B. The two teams, which finish at the bottom of Group B, are out from the medals competition.
Teams from the United States and Canada are the most likely candidates to win the gold in women’s ice hockey, while Russia will be competing for the bronze.