Maze, Gisin win gold in downhill
SOCHI, Russia — The gold market enjoyed big gains at the Sochi Olympics on Wednesday, getting an unexpected boost from the women's downhill.
Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland were declared co-gold medalists, the first time in Olympic Alpine history a race was won in a tie.
On a day that had little to do with winter — temperatures hit 63 degrees (17 C) — the two friends covered the 1.69-mile (2.7-kilometer) Rosa Khutor course in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. A tearful Lara Gut of Switzerland won the bronze, 0.10 seconds back.
"I'm sure glad I'm going to share this gold with Tina," Gisin said.
The favorites, Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Julia Mancuso of the U.S., were afterthoughts. Hoefl-Riesch, eyeing a record-equaling fourth Olympic Alpine gold, finished 13th while Mancuso was eighth.
Five other sports awarded gold medals on Day 6 of the Olympics: figure skating pairs, luge, Nordic combined, snowboarding and speedskating.
Among the other gold medalists were speedskater Stefan Groothuis, who added to the mighty haul of the Dutch at the oval; Eric Frenzel of Germany, who has been the steadiest in Nordic combined the last two years; and Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States, who defeated defending champion Torah Bright in the women's halfpipe.
Gisin is becoming an old hand at these kinds of outcomes — two of her three downhill victories have been ties. She also is having a far better Olympics than the one in Vancouver, where she went tumbling and airborne in the downhill. This was Gisin's first major medal. Maze won two silvers in Vancouver, and was hardly troubled about splitting the pot of gold. "It's even more interesting because it's not a usual thing," said Maze, who started 30 minutes after Gisin. "It's something special."
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov maintained Russia's long tradition in pairs, winning gold in their home Olympics. Teammates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took silver. Russia or the Soviet Union had won gold in 12 straight Olympics in the event before the streak ended four years ago. "I think tonight all of the country will celebrate this beautiful victory," Trankov said.
The Dutch ruled at the oval again, with Groothuis taking the gold in the 1,000 meters and upsetting two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis of the U.S. Groothuis won in 1 minute, 8.39 seconds and was followed by Denny Morrison of Canada and 500 champion Michel Mulder of the Netherlands. The Dutch have won 10 of 15 medals through the first five events. Davis was eighth, denied in his bid to become the first man to win the same speedskating event at three straight Olympics.
Farrington posted a score of 91.75 during her second run, just good enough to beat Bright's 91.50. 2002 Olympic champion Kelly Clark took bronze to give the United States another medal.
Sweden showed off its deep offensive talent in its Olympic opener, getting two goals from Erik Karlsson and one from Henrik Zetterberg in a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic. Switzerland also won, but needed a late deflection to beat Latvia 1-0. The Swiss scored with 7.9 seconds left, and Simon Moser was credited with the goal that appeared to carom off a Latvian player in front of the net.
Canada defeated the U.S. in women's hockey 3-2 in a preview of the expected gold medal match. Meghan Agosta scored twice for Canada and assisted on Hayley Wickenheiser's goal. This was the fifth time these teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women's hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. In the day's other game, Finland beat Switzerland 4-3.
Frenzel, who served two years in the German army, won the individual normal hill. He led after ski jumping and powered home on the cross-country course. "I can't describe this feeling, it's so perfect," he said. Frenzel, the runaway World Cup leader, was followed by Akito Watabe of Japan and Magnus Krog of Norway.
China's curlers kept up their surprise run by beating Switzerland and Germany, leaving the team at the top of the standings with four straight wins. With Sweden (3-1) losing to Denmark 8-5 in the evening session, Norway (3-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the competition after defeating Germany 8-5 in the morning. On the women's side, undefeated Canada downed Britain 9-6 in a game that went down to the final stone and sent the U.S. to the edge of elimination. The Canadians joined Switzerland in first place at 3-0.