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Figure skaters bring team Russia first Sochi Olympic gold

February 10, 2014, 5:32 UTC+3 SOCHI
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SOCHI, February 10, 4:51 /ITAR-TASS/. On the second competition day of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, the Russian national Olympic team won four medals, rising to fifth place in the overall team medal count. Figure skaters who left no chance for their rivals in team events, which are new for Winter Olympics, were the heroes of the day.

Team events of figure skaters started Thursday, February 6, taking a break for the solemn Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday. With each day, team Russia increased its advantage over rivals, and as a result won the gold medal ahead of schedule. The performance of the youngest participant of the Olympics, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, who won both the team ladies short program and team ladies free skating, was brilliant.

Evgeni Plushenko was second in the team men short program, but had no equals in the team men free skating. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the team pairs short program, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were victorious in the team pairs free skating. Finally, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev took third place in the team ice dance short dance. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov were third in the team ice dance free dance.

The first medal on Sunday was brought to team Russia by speed skater Olga Graf. In ladies’ 3000 meters, she was only behind Olympic champions Irene Wust from the Netherlands who won her third gold of Olympics, and Martina Sablikova from the Czech Republic, who took the silver. Graf’s bronze medal became Russia’s first in this type of speed skating over 20 years: in 1994, Svetlana Bazhanova secured the gold at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Female biathletes followed speed skaters. The women competed in biathlon sprint, and Russians were not left without awards. Anastasiya Kuzmina, born in the west Siberian city of Tyumen, who currently represents Slovakia, won the second gold in her career. The silver went to 25-year-old Russian Olga Vilukhina, for whom that medal was the biggest achievement in her career. Vilukhina lost 19.9 seconds to Kuzmina and has good chances to win a medal in pursuit.

The last Sunday medal was brought to team Russia by luger Albert Demchenko. In men’s singles, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics triumphant German Felix Loch and Italy's Armin Zoeggeler, who won in Turin in 2006 and Salt Lake City in 2002, were also among the favorites. Demchenko won the first run on Saturday, but lost the second, third and fourth runs to Loch, who eventually became an Olympic champion for a second time in a row. Demchenko repeated his achievement of eight years ago, winning the second silver of Olympics in his career. The Sochi Olympics became the seventh for 42-year-old Demchenko.

Russian female ice hockey players won the preliminary round at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on Sunday. Losing 0-1 after the second period in the match with German players, the Russians used the third period to deliver four pucks without a response from their rivals. The team of Mikhail Chekanov will hold its next match against team Japan on February 11.

Another four sets of medals were awarded on Sunday, February 9. Swiss skier Dario Cologna won Olympic gold in cross-country men's skiathlon 15km classic + 15km free. Russian Maxim Vylegzhanin took fourth place, losing 0.1 seconds to Norway’s Martin Sundby, but team Russia protested the Scandinavian’s actions in the finishing gate. The protest was dismissed, but representatives of team Russia appealed the decision. The race’s results may still be reviewed.

Austrian Matthias Mayer secured the gold medal in men’s downhill, arriving 0.06 seconds ahead of Italy’s Christof Innerhofer. Alexander Glebov, the best of Russians, took 23rd place. US snowboarder Jamie Anderson won gold in ladies’ slopestyle, leaving behind Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi, who took silver, and Britain’s Jenny Jones (bronze). In men's normal hill individual final round, Poland’s Kamil Stoch was in first place, leaving behind Slovenian Peter Prevc (silver) and Norway’s Anders Bardal, who took bronze. Russia’s best Mikhail Maksimochkin was in 30th place.

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