Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Sandro Viletta stuns favorites to claim gold


Russia’s Alexander Ovechkin controls the puck against Slovenia in their Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey Group A match in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Sandro Viletta of Switzerland stunned the favorites and won the Olympic men’s super-combined skiing title yesterday in a spring-like race.

Viletta finished in a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 45.20 seconds.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took the silver medal in the event for the third consecutive Olympics, 0.34 seconds behind, while Christof Innerhofer of Italy took bronze, 0.47 seconds behind, to add to his silver from the downhill.

Viletta stood only 14th after the downhill portion, but he put down the second-fastest slalom run and then waited as one skier after another failed to catch him.

The 28-year-old Viletta has won only one World Cup race in his career, a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in December 2011. His best super-combined result came in Wengen, Switzerland, last month when he was fourth.

Downhill leader Kjetil Jansrud of Norway finished fourth.

The medalists were determined by adding the times together from one downhill run and one slalom leg.

The temperature soared to 13?C shortly before the start of the slalom leg, turning the snow to slush.

Defending champion Bode Miller made a big mistake during his downhill run and finished sixth, while world champion Ted Ligety had a ragged slalom leg and placed 12th.

Norwegian standout Aksel Lund Svindal finished in a tie for eighth with former overall World Cup winner Carlo Janka of Switzerland.

French contender Alexis Pinturault went out toward the end of his slalom leg — one of many racers who struggled with a difficult course set by Kostelic’s father, Ante.

Switzerland’s Dario Cologna won his second gold of the Games and underlined his supremacy in cross-country skiing with a dominant performance in the men’s 15km classic.

After a steady start, Cologna took the time trial race by the scruff of the neck from the middle section and was able to punch the air in triumph as he crossed the line.

He finished in 38 minutes, 29.7 seconds, a colossal 28.5 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Johan Olsson of Sweden, who took silver. Daniel Richardsson, also of Sweden, won the bronze.

Cologna’s gold is his second in Sochi after his win in the skiathlon that mixes both the classic and freestyle.

It is his third Olympic gold after he also won the 15km in Vancouver 2010 which was run as a freestyle event.

On Thursday, Russian skating icon Yevgeny Plushenko dramatically announced his retirement after withdrawing from the Games with a back injury, leaving a nation stunned and questions asked over his original selection.

The two-time gold medalist had warmed up at the Iceberg Arena for the men’s short program as he began his campaign for a fifth medal and the accolade of the most successful ever Olympic figure skater, but he felt his long-standing back injury as he gingerly attempted a series of jumps, even stumbling at one stage.

After consulting his coach, the 31-year-old gave up on his Sochi dream and waved an emotional farewell to a stunned crowd.

“Amateur sport is finished for me. Maybe not in the way that I wanted, but I leave with a gold medal, that is also great,” he told Russia’s Channel One. “I am sorry for my fans and for everybody, but I tried until the end. I almost cried. It’s hard, believe me. I am very disappointed, but I tried to do my best.”

Plushenko had already won gold in Sochi in the new team event for his second Olympic title after taking the men’s honors at the 2006 Turin Olympics. He was also a two-time silver medalist, in 2002 and 2010.

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