Sochi 2014: Day 14 – Ukraine’s timely gold, Canada star, drugs surface
Sochi 2014: Two positive drugs tests tainted a special day in which politically-troubled Ukraine won their first Olympic gold for 20 years as Canada had a stormer
The day that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, overseeing his first Games, so badly did not want to see during his tenure unfortunately showed up on day 14 in Sochi as two athletes were thrown out for positive drugs tests.
Germany’s two-times Olympic cross-country skiing champion Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian police officer and four-man bobsledder William Frullani were the pair in question, the skier left aghast.
Any sense of horror at the decision bore little significance compared to the state of political turmoil in nearby Ukraine, where the loss of over 70 lives in violent clashes with police this week has made it the worst spell of disorder since the country emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Because of the events that happened in Ukraine, I would ask you for a minute of silence in honour of the people who died there during the last few days
Ukrainian biathlete Olena Pidhrushna
Biathlon quartet Juliya Dzhyma, Olena Pidhrushna and twin sisters Valj and Vita Semerenko did their best to divert attention away from the grotesque scenes in their own country and the bad press emanating from the positive drug tests by winning Ukraine’s first Winter Games gold since 1994.
Russia finished in second with Norway third, so this was some scalp for Ukraine, though before Pidhrushna spoke about the race she asked for the press room to respect her fallen comrades.
“Because of the events that happened in Ukraine, I would ask you for a minute of silence in honour of the people who died there during the last few days,” she said.
Political questions followed. Pidhrushna was asked about her husband, who is a member of the opposition in the Ukraine parliament. She was not impressed.
“There is not a single question without politics today. Every journalist asks the same. Really, try to tune into the race.”
It was some race, in which Ukraine shot the cleanest and skied the fastest, but the day’s honours across the board belonged to Canada, who stamped their mark on the medal table top dog fight as they won two golds, one silver and one bronze and beat the USA 1-0 in the highly-anticipated men’s ice hockey semi-final.
There is some fight brewing to finish first in the medal charts, with Norway currently pacesetting thanks to 10 golds (22 overall) while Russia (26), Canada (24) and the USA (27) all have one less win.
Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa won gold and silver in the ski cross for their country to take their freestyle skiing medals total for Sochi 2014 to an incredible nine (four golds, four silvers and one bronze) – a new Olympic record for the sport.
Indoors and skip Brad Jacobs led his curling team to a crushing 9-3 victory over David Murdoch’s Great Britain team, the most emphatic winning margin in a men’s Olympic final since Canada beat Switzerland by the same score at Nagano 1998.
They are very good at boxing guys out and that let me have my ice
Canadian ice hockey goaltender Carey Price
Sweden won bronze after a dramatic 6-4 victory over China following a sudden-death 11th-end to claim their first men’s curling medal since the sport made its debut in Chamonix 1924.
Canada’s defence rather than imperious attack was on display in the ice hockey as goaltender Carey Price made over 30 saves to shutout the USA, Jamie Benn scoring the game’s only goal shortly into the second period.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in that group in front of me. There’s a lot of winners in that dressing room, they all know how to play in tough situation,” said Price.
“They are very good at boxing guys out and that let me have my ice.”
In the other semi-final, goals from Loui Eriksson and Erik Karlsson helped Sweden come back from a goal down to beat Finland 2-1.
There was further North American success as US skier Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, made history when she became the youngest-ever Olympic slalom champion.
Shiffrin produced two good runs to fight off the challenge of Austrians Marlies Schild (who also won silver in 2010) and Kathrin Zettel.
Back indoors and two of the favourites for short track skating medals in the women’s 1000m crashed out in the semi-finals. Great Britain’s Elise Christie and China’s Li Jianrou collided and were subsequently disqualified. Park Seung-Hi won gold, Fan Kexin claimed silver and Shim Suk Hee took home the bronze.
Russia’s Viktor Ahn, formerly of South Korea, won gold in the men’s 500m, ahead of China’s Wu Dajing (silver) and Canada’s Charle Cournoyer (bronze).
Ahn then anchored the Russian team to a gold medal and an Olympic record in the 5000m relay event to take his personal tally to eight medals including six golds having claimed three wins and a bronze in Sochi.
The Dutch dominance of speed skating looks set to continue after their men’s team sealed their place in tomorrow’s final, where they will face South Korea. Poland will take on Canada for bronze.
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