SOCHI, February 20, /ITAR-TASS/ - American-born snowboarder Vic Wild brought Russia the first medal, winning in men's parallel giant Slalom, while his spouse Alena Zavarzina was third in women's contest. Russian skiers won silver in team sprint. Russian men's hockey team lost to Finland 1:3 in quarterfinals and withdrew from the competition.
After 12 days of Olympic Games, Russia netted 22 medals /six gold, nine silver and seven bronze/ which places it fourth by medal count.
Men's hockey team was eliminated from the Olympic tournament after it lost to Finland in quarterfinals 1:3. Ilya Kovalchyuk's scored with a snapshot from midrange in the 8th minute during power play, but that was the only time Russia was able to drive the puck past Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask who performed brilliantly throughout the rest of the game. Russian team stars Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin played lackluster hockey, sharply contrasted by the opponent's strongest forwards Teemu Selanne, 43 and Mikael Granlund, 21. These two actually secured breakthrough in the game, each scoring once after Juhamatti Aaltonen's equalizer.
After Finland scored the third goal, Russian hockey team coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov replaced goalie Semyon Varlamov with Sergei Bobrovsky, who made all saves. It was up to the Russian forwards to save the game, but they let the fans down.
In other quarterfinals, the USA defeated the Czech team 5:2, Sweden walloped Slovenia 5:0 and Canada bested Latvia 2:1.
In the semifinals, Sweden will play Finland and the USA will play Canada.
After snowboarder Nikolai Olyunin's success in men's final cross race, spouses Alena Zavarzina and Vic Wild met spectators' expectations in giant slalom on Wednesday. Although the public largely expected Zavarzina to win gold, it was the American-born Vic Wilder who brought Russia's first ever Olympic gold in snowboard event. He had made visible progress after moving to Russia.
Vic Wild qualified and passed elimination finals comfortably to beat Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarin in the final race.
Wild had not scored great success before, and much credit for his gold medal goes to the home stadium and fans' support.
Russia’s Andrei Sobolev finished 9thm, Vitaly Kolegav 19th and Stanislav Detkov 29th.
Aside from Zavarzina, good results were expected for Ekaterina Ilyukhina and Ekaterina Tudegesheva. In Vancouver, Ilyukhina won sensational silver in this event, but on home track, she was only 12th, while Tudegeshva was 15th. Natalia Soboleva was disqualified.
Zavarzina eventually scored the best result for Russia, losing the semifinals to Swiss snowboarder Patrizia Kummer. She was faster than Austria’s Ina Meschik though. Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi won silver.
In the morning program, Alpine skiing results brought no sensation, as Ted Ligety of the USA, with a dominating performance in this event in the recent years, confirmed his prowess. He led his rivals by 1 second after the first run, and took no risk during the second. Two Frenchmen, Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault won silver and bronze. Russia's Sergey Maytakov finished 26th, Vladislav Novikov was 35th and Stepan Zuyev was unable to finish.
In team sprint classic, medals were expected from Maxim Vylegzhanin and Nikita Kryukov, while success of women's team would have been nothing short of miracle. But no miracle happened, Anastasia Dotsenko and Yulia Ivanova lost 40 seconds to champions taking the 6th place.
Two Norwegian skiers scored comfortable victories: Marit Bjoergen became five-time Olympic champion and her junior Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg won her first gold. Silver and bronze went to skiers from Finland and Sweden.
Finland and Sweden won medals in men's dramatic team sprint. Unlike women's race, there were no breakaways in the men's, with nearly all teams vying for victory, but it was Russia’s Kryukov, Finland's Sami Jauhojaervi and Germany's Tim Tscharnke who were the first to approach the finish line. The German unexpectedly fell on the final sprint. Kryukov who nearly tripped over him was unable to catch up with the Finn. Jauhojaervi and Livo Niskanen unexpectedly won gold, but it was a well-deserved medal, and Russians could blame themselves for missing the real chance to win the event.
Czech speedskater Martina Sablikova, the winner of the five last world championships and the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010 predictably won 5,000-meter race. Ireen Wust and Carient Kleibeuker of the Netherlands won silver and bronze, respectively, bringing the country's medal haul to 21, including six gold medals.
Russian speedskater Olga Graf was 4th in the event and her compatriot Anna Chernova was 9th.
2 x 6 km women + 2 x 7.5 km men mixed relay did not bring any medals for Russia. Zaitseva who had not fully recovered from her fall in mass start lost 40 seconds in the first run to Norwegian Tora Berger. Olga Vilukhina was 40 seconds behind Italy, and Evgeni Garanichev had a chance to secure Russia's re-entry into the medal contest. However, he missed in standing position shooting and had to do a penalty loop. Anton Shipulin finished 5th in the last run.
There was no individual rivalry for medals because of the Norwegian team's overwhelming advantage. Aside from Berger, taking part in the race were Tiril Eckhoff, Ole Einar Bjorndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen. Bjorndalen, 40, became eight-time Olympic champion, setting a winter games record with 13 medals. Eckhoff, his 17-year junior won her first gold. The Czech team finished second following up the success of its biathletes who have already won five medals. Bronze went to Italy.
The last gold medal in Sochi on Wednesday was claimed in bobsleigh by Canadian team Baillie Humphries and brakewoman Heather Moyse. The Canadians were faster than U.S. teams Elana Meyers/Lauryn Williamns and Jamie Greubel/Aja Evans who finished second and third, respectively. The Russian team /Olga Stulneva/Ludmila Udobkina/ finished 9th, and Nadezhda Sergeeva and Nadezhda Paleeva were 16th.
Russia's team event Olympic champion Yulia Lipnitskaya made a technical error in short program losing nine points to Yuna Kim of South Korea, but Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova was 2nd lagging behind the South Korean by only 0.28 points.
In curling semifinals (men) Sweden lost to Great Britain 5:6, Canada outplayed China 10:6 and in women's semifinals Canada defeated Great Britain 6:4 and Sweden defeated Switzerland 7:5.