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Hockey heartache for hosts as Bjoerndalen annexes 13th medal
 
 
 
Hockey heartache for hosts as Bjoerndalen annexes 13th medal

SOCHi - Finland sent Russia crashing out of the Olympic ice hockey tournament on Wednesday in a bitter blow for the home nation as US skier Ted Ligety stormed to giant slalom gold. Russia -- desperate to make amends for their dismal showing at the 2010 Vancouver Games -- took the lead in the quarter-final tie but three goals from the Finns sealed the host nation's fate. The 3-1 loss was a second successive Olympic Games defeat at the last-eight stage for Russia, who were booed off the Bolshoi Ice Palace rink by their shell-shocked fans.
Teemu Selanne and Juhamatti Aaltonen scored first period goals for Finland after Ilya Kovalchuk had put Russia ahead, with Mikael Granlund adding the third. Russian TV did not hold back in its immediate post-match hyperbole in a post-mortem that is sure to be damning in its verdict. "We are all crying and we are crying with you too. We are hoping for revenge. Maybe one day there will be revenge. But maybe not with this team," said the commentator on state television Channel One. A delighted Granlund said: "They had the first goal, but we bounced back really good, and throughout the game we defended well and didn't give them much. We made it tough on them." Earlier Wednesday, Sweden thumped Slovenia 5-0. Defending champions Canada take on Latvia in the last eight while the USA will battle the Czech Republic.
Norwegian biathlon star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the greatest Winter Olympian in history by taking a record 13th medal with gold in the mixed relay at the Sochi Games. Bjoerndalen, 40, now holds the record outright for the most medals at Winter Games after overtaking his compatriot, the cross country ski legend Bjoern Daehlie, who won 12 medals.
Bjoerndalen has now also won eight gold medals at Winter Olympics, equalling Daehlie's own record.  In an astonishingly long career for an endurance athlete, Bjoerndalen won his first medals at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan. Only US swimmer Micheal Phelps and Soviet gymnasts Larissa Latynina and Nikolai Andrianov have won more medals at Summer or Winter Olympics.  In a sign of his appetite for victory, Bjoerndalen now has eight golds, four silvers and just one bronze.
In the mountains above Sochi, four-time world champion Ligety, who disappointed in the super-combined and super-G, stamped his authority on the giant slalom early, leading by nearly a second after the first run in picture-perfect conditions. The 29-year-old, who won combined gold at the 2006 Turin Games, did enough on his second ski to beat Frenchman Steve Missillier by nearly half a second in an overall time of 2min 45.29sec. French tyro Alexis Pinturault took bronze. "This is the event I wanted the most," Ligety said. "This is the event I have been putting so much pressure on myself to win, so to pull through is an awesome feeling."
Away from the action, Ukraine's pole vault great Sergei Bubka, who now heads the country's Olympic Committee, urged talks to end deadly violence in Kiev. But the International Olympic Committee rejected a request by Ukrainian athletes in Sochi to wear black armbands in mourning after violence that has left at least 25 people dead.
The main focus in Sochi on Wednesday evening will be on the Iceberg Skating Palace, where South Korean figure skating queen Kim Yu-Na is preparing to defend her title on her international farewell. Standing in her way will be long-time rival Mao Asada of Japan and Russian prodigy Julia Lipnitskaia who, at just 15, became the youngest female figure skater in 78 years to win a gold medal after helping the Olympic host nation seal the inaugural team title.
Dubbed "Queen Yu-Na" by her adoring fans, Kim, who won the world championships for the second time last year, has already announced that the Sochi Games will be her final competition. The South Korean's world record scores across the board in her stunning performance in Vancouver four years ago still stand but her Olympic season has been hampered by a right foot injury. The short programme takes place on Wednesday, with the free skate the following day.
Russia's Vic Wild captured the men's snowboarding parallel giant slalom title just minutes after his wife Alena Zavarzina took bronze in the women's event behind winner Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland. Cross country skiing superstar Marit Bjoergen took Norway to victory in the women's team sprint race, the fifth Olympic gold of her career, while Finland won the men's race. Czech speed skater Martina Sablikova defended her Olympic crown in the women's 5,000m while Ireen Wust of the Netherlands took silver -- her fourth medal of the Games.


Medals Table


TEAM    Gold    Silver    Bronze    Total
Norway    9    4    7    20
Germany    8    3    4    15
United States    7    5    11    23
Russian Fed.    6    9    7    22
Netherlands    6    7    9    22
Switzerland    6    3    1    10
Canada    5    9    4    18
Belarus    5    0    1    6
Poland    4    0    0    4
France    3    2    6    11
China    3    2    1    6
Austria    2    6    1    9
Sweden    2    5    4    11
Czech Republic    2    4    2    8
Slovenia    2    1    4    7
Korea    2    1    1    4
Japan    1    4    2    7
Finland    1    3    0    4
Great Britain    1    0    1    2
Slovakia    1    0    0    1
Italy    0    2    5    7
Australia    0    2    1    3
Latvia    0    1    2    3
Croatia    0    1    0    1
Kazakhstan    0    0    1    1
Ukraine    0    0    1    1

 
 
on epaper page 16
 
 
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