Sochi 2014Friday, February 14, 2014
Home figure skating hero Plushenko pulls out
SOCHI, Russia — Russia’s flamboyant figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko pulled out of the Winter Olympics through injury yesterday in a shock twist that immediately deflated home fans pumped up by an opening victory for their beloved men’s ice hockey team. More than 10,000 flag-waving Russian fans roared the men in red to a somewhat laboured 5-2 win over Slovenia, underlining the sport’s popularity in Russia and how dearly the home nation would love to win the final held on the last day of the Games.
As ice hockey mania swept Sochi, the United States thumped Slovakia 7-1, and Canada opened the defence of their title against Norway with a 3-1 victory.
In the mountains, Joss Christensen of the United States won the inaugural men’s freestyle skiing slopestyle. Gus Kenworthy took silver and Nick Goepper the bronze in a US podium sweep.
In the women’s cross-country 10km classic, several athletes wore sleeveless tops as temperatures touched 13C in bright sunshine and contestants complained of tough conditions. Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk powered to victory. But organizers played down concerns about the quality of the snow that many athletes have described as slushy and difficult. France’s Martin Fourcade won the men’s biathlon 20km individual title, his second gold of the Games.
In Sochi, Li Jianrou avoided an early pile-up to win the women’s 500 metres short track speed skating, extending China’s winning streak at the distance to a fourth Winter Games, while Britain’s Christie Elise left the rink in tears after being relegated from second place to eighth after causing a crash on the first bend which saw three of the four finalists fall. China’s Zhang Hong claimed the women’s 1,000m speed skating title at the Adler Arena, beating pre-race favourites Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe of the United States.
In the last event of the day, the inaugural team relay went to luge powerhouse Germany, making it a clean sweep of all four luge gold medals at the Sochi Olympics. Germany are top of the medals table with seven golds, ahead of Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and the United States, all on four. Russia are seventh with two.