Olympic Daily News - Sunday, February 16th

The Sports NetworkFebruary 15, 2014 

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Norway's Kjetil Jansrud took gold on Sunday in the men's Super-G at the Sochi Olympics, while Americans Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller also reached the podium.

Weibrecht was a bronze medal winner four years ago in Vancouver, where he finished .03 seconds behind Miller, and bettered his fellow American this time around.

Miller, meanwhile, shared bronze with Canada's Jan Hudec, claiming the sixth Olympic medal of his career after getting shut out in his first two attempts in Sochi. Miller finished eighth in the downhill and sixth in the super combined before becoming the oldest Olympic medalist in Alpine skiing.

The 36-year-old surpassed Norway's Kjetil Aamodt, who medaled at the age of 34 in 2006.

One of Miller's career medals was a silver in this event in 2010.

"I've never been stuck on counting medals, but for me, I've put in a lot of work," said Miller. "Some days medals don't matter, and today was one of the ones where it does matter."

Jansrud, who took bronze in Sochi in the men's downhill, posted the top time of 1 minute, 18.14 seconds. Weibrecht finished .30 seconds behind Jansrud, while Miller and Hudec recorded matching times of 1:18.67.

The start time of this event was moved up an hour to combat heat that plagued the women's Super-G on Saturday. Still, three of the first 12 skiers did not finish, including Italy's Christof Innerhofer, a bronze winner in Sochi in the men's combined and claimer of silver in the downhill.

Downhill gold medal winner Matthias Mayer of Austria also failed to finish his run.

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, who beat Miller for gold in 2010, finished seventh with a time of 1:18.76, while American and 2013 Super G World champion Ted Ligety finished 14th at 1.34 seconds off the pace.

SAMKOVA DOMINATES FOR GOLD; JACOBELLIS FALLS SHORT OF REDEMPTION

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - From the start of the women's snowboard cross event, Czech Eva Samkova looked as though she would be tough to beat.

She in fact was.

Samkova was in the front of the field from the seeding to the finals, taking gold on Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.

Canadian Dominique Maltais, a bronze winner at the 2006 Olympics, grabbed silver and France's Chloe Trespeuch finished third.

American Lindsey Jacobellis was taking a third attempt at a gold medal, but like the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, she failed to make it out of the semifinals.

Fellow U.S. snowboarder Faye Gulini did advance to the final, finishing fourth after Bulgaria's Alexandra Jekova and Italy's Michela Moioli touched boards and wiped out in the big final.

The 20-year-old Samkova, a former X Games silver medalist, had the fastest time in the seeding run, coming in at 1 minute and 20.61 seconds. She then won both her quarterfinal and semifinal heats to roll into the final, where she once again jumped out in front.

Samkova even appeared to do a little fist pump midair on the final jump and flashed her drawn-on mustache at the bottom of the hill after crossing the finish line.

While Samkova showed reason to fear the 'stache, it was another winter of disappointment for Jacobellis.

The 28-year-old was in line to grab gold in this event back in 2006, leading the final when she grabbed her board on a jump at the bottom of the hill and fell. She settled for silver.

Looking to rebound four years ago in Vancouver, she cut a gate and failed to advance to the final.

This time around in Sochi, Jacobellis had the second-fastest time in the seeding run and finished first in her quarterfinal heat.

Again onto the semifinal, Jacobellis was leading her group when she lost her balance and fell on the final corner.

And again like Vancouver, she rebounded to win the small final, giving her seventh place in Sochi but little consolation.

A wipe out also took Canadian and 2010 gold medal-winner Maelle Ricker out of the running as she was one of three riders to go down in the second quarterfinal. She was competing despite a recent wrist injury that required surgery.

Samkova's victory closed out an event that saw two scary crashes in the seeding round.

Norway's Helene Olafsen was the first snowboarder to go, but was unable to finish following a crash. The 23-year-old was fourth in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and was coming off a third-place finish at the 2013 FIS World Championships.

American Jacqueline Hernandez went sixth and the 21-year-old's first Olympic run ended when she slammed her head and neck on the ground on a fall. Hernandez at first laid motionless on the snow, but eventually was sitting up and talking before being taken off on a stretcher.

The two crashes came one day after Russian skicrosser Maria Komissarova sustained a serious spinal injury while training.

SWEDEN REPEATS IN MEN'S CROSS-COUNTRY RELAY

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sweden secured its second straight Olympic gold in the men's 4x10-kilometer cross-country relay on Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.

The defending Olympic champions found themselves tied with Finland after two legs, but Johan Olsson skied a strong third leg to create a 14.3-second spread over second place heading into the final leg.

Swedish anchor Marcus Hellner, a silver medalist in the skiathlon at Sochi, then cruised to victory in the fourth leg. He picked up a Swedish flag from a coach along the way and held it high above his head down the home stretch before crossing the finish line and embracing his teammates.

Sweden finished with a total time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 42 seconds, giving the nation a sweep in the cross-country relay after the women won Sweden's first gold of the Sochi Games in the 4x5-kilometer relay on Saturday.

Russia crossed the finish line 27.3 seconds after the Swedes to secure silver, with France finishing 4.6 seconds after Russia to grab bronze.

Norway, which won silver at this event in Vancouver, finished 1 minute, 9.7 seconds after Sweden to place fourth, while the United States and Canada finished 11th and 12th, respectively.

TER MORS TAKES GOLD IN ANOTHER DUTCH SPEEDSKATING SWEEP

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Jorien ter Mors set an Olympic record to win the women's 1,500 meters and lead the Netherlands to another medal sweep in speedskating Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.

Skating in the ninth of 18 pairs, ter Mors set the gold medal pace with her record time of 1 minute, 53.51 seconds. Fellow Dutch skater Ireen Wust was .58 seconds behind for silver and Lotte van Beek completed the podium sweep with a time of 1:54.54.

Marrit Leenstra gave the Dutch the top-four finishers, although she was 1.86 seconds behind van Beek for bronze.

Ter Mors is competing in both short track and traditional speedskating at the 2014 Winter Games. She finished fourth in the short track 1,500 meters and sixth in the 500 before making her Sochi debut in long track on Sunday.

This marks the third medal sweep in speedskating for the Netherlands in Sochi and the first on the women's side. The Dutch men claimed gold, silver and bronze in both the 500 and 5,000 meters.

The Dutch have now claimed 16 of the 24 speedskating medals awarded in Sochi, winning gold in five of the eight events.

Wust now has three medals in Sochi after winning gold in the 3,000 and taking silver in the 1,000. She has won six Olympic medals overall.

Heather Richardson had the best showing by an American, finishing seventh with a time of 1:57.60. Brittany Bowe and Jilleanne Rookard were 14th and 18th, respectively, for the United States.

Canada had four skaters in Sunday's event. Kali Christ was the top Canadian with a 16th-place finish.

DAVIS AND WHITE TOP VIRTUE AND MOIR FOR ICE DANCE LEAD

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Once again, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White will battle Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for ice dancing supremacy.

Davis and White won the short dance program at the 2014 Olympics on Sunday with a record score of 78.89, edging Virtue and Moir for the top spot. The defending Olympic champions earned a short dance score of 76.33.

Medals will be awarded Monday after the free dance.

It's simply been a battle between the two couples, who also double as training partners, for the past four years.

Virtue and Moir won Olympic gold four years ago in front of the home crowd in Vancouver and captured the world title in 2010 and 2012. Davis and White finished behind the Canadian duo at the 2010 Olympics and at the '10 and '12 worlds, while finishing ahead of them for world gold in 2011 and 2013.

The United States has never won gold in the competition, which made its Olympic debut at the 1976 Innsbruck Games. In addition to the silver won by Davis and White four years ago, the duo of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto captured silver in 2006 and the team of Colleen O'Connor and James Millns won bronze in 1976.

While it's clearly a two-team battle for gold, a number of couples are in the mix for the bronze medal.

Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov thrilled the home crowd and placed third with a score of 73.04, just ahead of France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, who posted a score of 72.78. Another Russian team, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, finished fifth at 69.97.

Pechalat and Bourzat won bronze at the 2012 worlds, while Bobrova and Soloviev took bronze at the 2013 worlds.

Two other American couples finished among the top nine Sunday. Madison Chock and Evan Bates placed eighth and the sibling pair of Maia and Alex Shibutani were ninth.

Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished just ahead of the Americans in seventh.

KESSEL'S HAT TRICK POWERS U.S. TO EASY WIN OVER SLOVENIA

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Heroic efforts from T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Quick were not required for the United States on Sunday against Slovenia. Phil Kessel and Ryan Miller made sure of that.

Kessel scored twice in the first 4:33 of the contest en route to a natural hat trick and Miller made 17 saves in place of a resting Quick for the Americans in a 5-1 victory that clinched a bye into the quarterfinals of the Olympic hockey tournament.

Ryan McDonagh and David Backes also scored for the United States, which avoided a letdown after its dramatic shootout win against Russia on Saturday. Oshie scored four times in the shootout and Quick came up with enough stops during the extra phase to help the Americans gain the valuable extra point, which enabled the U.S. to enter Sunday's contest needing only a win to earn an extra day off heading into the second week of the tournament.

The Americans finished with three wins and eight points to claim first place in Group A, bypassing the qualification playoff on Tuesday. The U.S. will next play again on Wednesday as the second overall seed against the winner of Tuesday's contest between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Joe Pavelski assisted on all three goals by Kessel, who became the first American with a hat trick in Olympic play since John LeClair in 2002 against Finland.

Marcel Rodman scored with 17.6 seconds remaining to avoid the shutout for Slovenia, which was coming off its first-ever Olympic win on Saturday against Slovakia. Luca Gracnar stopped 23 shots in defeat.

Kessel gave the United States a 1-0 lead just 64 seconds into the contest. He took a pass from Pavelski at the Slovenia blue line and made a neat move through the right circle past defenseman Mitja Robar before slipping a shot through Gracnar.

The same duo increased the American lead at the 4:33 mark. Pavelski chased the puck down in the Slovenia zone and made a pass from the right side of the cage toward the top of the crease for an onrushing Kessel, who knocked the puck out of midair and into the net.

Slovenia carried play for most of the final 10 minutes of the opening period and the early portion of the second, but Miller was up to the task and helped the Americans maintain their lead until Kessel and Pavelski struck again.

Pavelski rifled a shot on net from the right circle with James van Riemsdyk providing a perfect screen. The rebound kicked directly to the left side of the crease and Kessel was there to knock it home for the natural hat trick.

Just 1:12 later, McDonagh scored on a one-timer from the right circle to make it 4-0.

Backes added a goal at 3:26 of the third before Rodman spoiled what would have been Miller's second career Olympic shutout.

Slovenia is seeded eighth for the elimination round and will face Austria on Tuesday with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Sweden.

DOUGHTY LIFTS CANADA PAST FINLAND IN ROUND-ROBIN FINALE

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Drew Doughty wrapped up an impressive preliminary round with two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as Canada edged Finland 2-1.

Doughty took a pass from Jeff Carter on a rush, carried the puck into the Finland zone and ripped a shot along the ice from the left circle past goaltender Tuukka Rask at 2:32 of the extra session.

The win locked up Group B, the No. 3 seed and a bye into the quarterfinals for the defending Olympic champions.

Despite the loss, the Finns secured the fourth seed as well as a bye. However, host Russia is looming as a potential quarterfinal foe. The Russians will play Norway in the qualification round.

Canada's next opponent will be either Switzerland or Latvia on Wednesday.

Doughty, who scored four goals in three games, opened the scoring on a power play at 13:44 of the first period from nearly the same place on the ice as his winner.

Earlier in the frame, teammate Rick Nash had a goal waved off because contact was made with a high stick. A point shot was deflected and wound up landing on top of the net. Nash swiped at the puck with his stick, freeing it from the mesh, and the disc went in off the back of Rask.

The Finns tied the game when Tuomo Ruutu, celebrating his 31st birthday, positioned himself in front of Canadian goaltender Carey Price and redirected a point shot with two minutes left in the second period.

Price made 14 saves, while Rask stopped 25 shots.

RUSSIANS BOUNCE BACK WITH SHOOTOUT WIN OVER SLOVAKIA

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - After Saturday's heartbreaking shootout loss to the United States, Russia was looking to avoid a letdown against winless Slovakia on Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.

It did, but just barely.

Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored in the shootout, while Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves through overtime and stopped both Slovaks in the shootout to send Russia to a 1-0 win in the men's ice hockey tournament at Bolshoy Ice Center.

Despite the win, Russia wrapped up preliminary round action with six points to finish second behind the U.S. in Group A. The top team in each group, along with the best of the three second-place teams, automatically earns a spot in Wednesday's quarterfinals, while the other eight squads will face off in Tuesday's qualification round to determine the last four quarterfinalists.

Russia wound up with the fifth overall seed and will play Tuesday against Norway. The winner of that matchup will square off against fourth-seeded Finland in the quarterfinals.

Slovakia outshot Russia 22-16 over the first 40 minutes, but Varlamov turned away all comers to keep the game scoreless.

The host nation then came to life in the third, peppering netminder Jan Laco with 15 shots while permitting Slovakia to put just two pucks on net.

Despite the extreme disparity, the Russians were unable to solve Laco, who got some help from the crossbar early in the period and saw an Evgeni Malkin blast find iron late in the frame.

After both teams failed to score in overtime, Varlamov opened the shootout with a stop of Michal Handzus before Radulov raced in and roofed a backhander over Laco's glove to give Russia an early edge.

Varlamov then made a nice right pad save on Tomas Tatar and Kovalchuk ended the game by beating Laco blocker side with a backhand.

Despite the setback, Slovakia secured its first point in Sochi and is seeded 10th for the elimination round. The Slovaks will battle the seventh-seeded Czechs on Tuesday with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals against the second-seeded United States.

AUSTRIA TOPS NORWAY FOR FIRST VICTORY IN SOCHI

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Grabner lit the lamp twice and added an assist, as Austria secured its first victory of the Sochi Olympics with a 3-1 win over Norway on Sunday in the men's ice hockey tournament from Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Grabner and Michael Raffl scored 2:25 apart in the opening frame to provide just enough support for Mathias Lange, who stopped 34-of-35 shots in his first Olympic start.

Grabner potted his fifth marker in Sochi late in the third, as Austria secured its first Olympic ice hockey win since 2002 to finish third in Group B at 1-2.

Per-Age Skroder scored the lone Norway goal, while Lars Haugen allowed three goals on 27 shots in the setback, Norway's third in as many tries in Sochi.

Austria jumped on top just under 4 1/2 minutes in, as Thomas Pock picked up a drop pass atop the right circle and threaded the needle to the low left side for a cutting Grabner, who one-touched the disc past Haugen for a 1-0 lead.

Austria doubled its edge on the power play under three minutes later, as Raffl stuffed one home from the low right side to make it 2-0 at 6:52 of the opening frame.

Norway cut the margin in half just over eight minutes into the second when Patrick Thoresen recovered a rebound just below the goal line on the low right side and quickly dished to the slot, where Skroder ripped the puck past Lange to bring Norway within 2-1 at 8:05.

However, Norway was unable to solve Lange the rest of the way, despite having a pair of power plays in the third.

Grabner then put the game away late, as he got behind the defense and waited for Haugen to come out and challenge before stepping around the Norwegian netminder and stuffing the puck into the empty net to account for the final margin.

Austria is the ninth seed in the qualification round and will play Slovenia on Tuesday in an elimination game. The winner advances to a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Sweden.

Norway is seeded last among the 12 teams and will face Russia on Tuesday with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Finland.

FINLAND'S BARKOV TO MISS REST OF OLYMPICS

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Team Finland suffered another loss as forward Aleksander Barkov will miss the rest of the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a lower-body injury.

Barkov was hurt in Friday's 6-1 win over Norway, a victory that improved Finland to 2-0 in Group B play. He left in the third period and did not return.

That leaves Finland without another forward ahead of Sunday's matchup with 2-0 Canada for first place in the group. The Finns came into the Winter Games already without forwards Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula due to injury.

The 18-year-old Barkov has eight goals and 24 points in 54 games this NHL season with the Florida Panthers, who selected him second overall in the 2013 draft.

SLOVENIA'S KOVACEVIC GIVEN 1-GAME BAN FOR ELBOW

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Slovenia's Sabahudin Kovacevic was given a one-game suspension on Sunday for an elbow delivered in a victory over Slovakia.

The Olympic men's tournament disciplinary panel issued the ban one day after Kovacevic hit Slovakia's Tomas Kopecky in the head and neck area during a 3-1 triumph. Kopecky was forced to leave the game and did not return.

Kovacevic, who logged nearly 23 minutes of ice time on Saturday, will miss Slovenia's game on Sunday against the United States.

RUSSIA LEADS TWO-MAN BOBSLED; U.S. THIRD

Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Russia is in gold medal position after the first two runs of the men's two-man bobsled, while the top team from the United States sits third after Sunday's competition at the Sochi Olympics.

The Russian sled piloted by Alexander Zubkov posted the best time in each run Sunday and holds a lead of .32 seconds over Switzerland heading into the final two runs on Monday. Russia completed its two runs at Sanki Sliding Center in 1 minute, 52.82 seconds.

The U.S. sled piloted by Steven Holcomb was second after the first run, but fell to third overall after posting only the eighth-best split of Run 2. The Americans are .36 seconds behind Russia for first place and .04 seconds behind the Swiss.

Holcomb piloted the four-man sled that won a surprising gold four years ago in Vancouver, giving the U.S. its first Olympic gold in bobsled since 1948. The Americans haven't medaled in two-man bobsled since 1952 and last won gold in the event in 1936.

A second sled from the U.S. piloted by Cory Butner was third after the first run, but now sits in 11th place. A third American team is in 13th place.

Justin Kripps has piloted Canada's top sled into fourth place. The Canadians are .44 seconds behind Russia for first and .08 seconds behind Holcomb and the Americans.

Canada's two remaining sleds are in eighth and ninth place heading into Monday's final runs.

MEN'S BIATHLON MASS START POSTPONED

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sunday's men's 15-kilometer biathlon mass start was postponed because of fog.

The event was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) and was originally pushed back an hour. Officials then decided to postpone it until Monday. The start will be at 10 a.m. local time.

RUSSIA DOWNS JAPAN IN WOMEN'S CLASSIFICATION GAME

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Galina Skiba scored two goals to help Russia post a 6-3 win over Japan in a women's ice hockey classification game on Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.

Skiba tallied at 7:33 of the second period to give Russia a 3-2 lead and her second goal of the night made it 5-3 for the host nation midway through the third period. Tatyana Burina, who had a goal and two assists, scored with 4:18 remaining in regulation to account for the final margin.

Anna Shokhina also had a goal and two assists for Russia, which will battle Finland for fifth place on Tuesday.

Japan and Germany will face off Tuesday in the seventh-place classification game.

Backed by 20 saves from Noora Raty, Finland picked up a 2-1 win over Germany earlier on Sunday.

Jenni Hiirikoski scored just 1:15 into the contest for Finland and Michelle Karvinen made it 2-0 at the 8:32 mark. Riikka Valila assisted on both tallies, including Hiirikoski's goal that came just five seconds into a power play.

Raty made six saves in the first period and kept Germany off the board until Bettina Evers scored 8:59 into the middle frame on the power play, but Raty made the one-goal edge stand up.

Jennifer Harss took the tough-luck loss despite 25 saves.

The semifinal games in the women's tournament are set for Monday with the United States taking on Sweden and Canada facing off against Switzerland. The Americans and Canadians are both considered heavy favorites to reach Thursday's gold medal game.

CANADA EDGES U.S. TO STAY UNBEATEN IN WOMEN'S CURLING

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canada remained unbeaten in women's curling at the Sochi Olympics, improving to 8-0 with a close victory Sunday against the United States.

The unbeaten Canadians posted a 7-6 win over the U.S. on Sunday. Skip Jennifer Jones scored a single point on the final throw of the extra end to help Canada edge the Americans, who fell to 1-7. Both the U.S. men and women have been eliminated from medal contention in curling.

If Canada wins Monday against South Korea it would become the first women's team to go undefeated through round-robin play at the Olympics.

Prior to Sunday's win over the U.S., Canada's women already had earned a spot in the semifinals in Sochi. The Canadians are after their first Olympic gold since 1998. They lost to Sweden in the gold medal match four years ago in Vancouver, as the Swedes won their second straight Olympic title.

The Swedes joined Canada in Wednesday's semifinals after improving to 6-2 in the competition on Sunday. Sweden earned its place in the knockout stage thanks to a 5-4 victory over Russia and Japan's 9-7 win over Switzerland.

Denmark also recorded a 7-4 win over South Korea to improve to 3-5 in the women's tournament.

On the men's side, both Canada and Sweden were able to punch tickets to the semifinals on Sunday.

The Canadians won their fifth straight match, downing the U.S. by an 8-6 score to qualify for Wednesday's semifinals. Canada added a sixth consecutive victory in the late session, edging China 9-8 in the extra end.

Swedish men also won twice Sunday to improve to 8-1. They posted an 8-4 win over Russia in the morning and downed the U.S. by a 6-4 count in the late session.

Sweden and Canada have both completed their round-robin schedules and will head into the semifinal round as the top two seeds. China is currently in third place with a 6-2 record with Great Britain and Norway next with 5-3 marks.

Canada has won the last two gold medals in men's curling.

The U.S. is 2-6 and will play out the string when it finishes round-robin play Monday against Switzerland.

COSTAS READY TO RETURN FOR NBC

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Bob Costas will return to NBC's primetime coverage of the Sochi Olympics on Monday after a six-day absence due to an eye infection.

Costas anchored the network's coverage at the start of the Sochi Games but the eye condition worsened and NBC opted to replace him with Today Show host Matt Lauer beginning with last Tuesday's primetime show. It marked the first time since 1988 that someone other than Costas has anchored the coverage.

Lauer will handle the primetime duties one last time on Sunday night before Costas returns to the studio for Monday's broadcast.

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