Jean Frederic Chapuis skied calmly through the chaos to take freestyle ski cross gold at the Sochi Games yesterday and lead France to their first Winter Olympics podium sweep.
Arnaud Bovolenta took silver and Jonathan Midol won bronze after the fourth finalist, Canada’s Brady Leman, crashed out on the penultimate jump.
It was the second 1-2-3 in freestyle skiing at the Extreme Park after the US swept the slopestyle event and gave France a total of 14 medals in Sochi, their best tally at a Winter Games.
World champion Chapuis, who has dual nationality and raced for Switzerland in Alpine skiing before switching sports and countries in 2010, had shown good form all day.
Fourth fastest in the morning seedings run, the 24-year-old led Midol through from their round-of-16 heat and the pair repeated the one-two in their two subsequent races to secure berths in the final.
Bovolenta came through the bottom half of the draw with Leman and made a good start in the final, edging ahead of Chapuis before being hauled in by the world champion.
When Chapuis got in front, he never looked like being caught and once Leman, who missed out on skiing at the Vancouver Games after breaking his leg on the eve of the contest, had fallen, the French sweep was on.
Although Midol’s ski made contact with that of Leman before the fall, the Canadian had earlier similarly taken out Swiss favourite Alex Fiva in the first round of heats.
Having tangled with Leman, Midol, whose world championship silver medalist brother Bastien was ruled out of the Games by a serious back injury, looked unlikely to catch Bovolenta and the trio settled for staying upright over the final jump.
Semi-finalist Armin Niederer apart, it was a miserable day for the strong Swiss team.
Defending champion Michael Schmid, who has had three ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments since winning gold in Vancouver, sustained another knee injury last Sunday and did not start.
Fiva, the 2012-2013 overall World Cup champion, was struggling with his back and failed to complete the seeding run before being taken out while leading by Leman.
As usual in the rough and tumble of the most unpredictable freestyle event, there were plenty of crashes and Fiva was by no means the only leading skier to go out early.
Medal contender Victor Oehling Norberg’s exit was the most spectacular, the Swede crash-landing while leading after the final jump in his quarter-final and still missing out the semis by only a matter of centimeters in a photo finish.
AP, SOCHI, Russia
Britain won the bronze medal in women’s Olympic curling by beating Switzerland 6-5 yesterday, ensuring the country will at least match its record haul of four medals at a single Winter Games.
British skip Eve Muirhead secured victory with a draw to the button on the last stone.
Muirhead’s world champion rink recovered from a 6-4 loss to Canada in Wednesday’s semi-finals to win Britain’s first curling medal since 2002, when the women’s team captured the gold.
Britain already had won a gold and a bronze in Sochi and is assured of either a gold or silver in men’s curling, with David Murdoch’s team in the final. Britain last won four Winter Games medals in 1924.
Canada were to play Sweden in the gold-medal game later yesterday.
AP, KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia
Germany took the lead in the Nordic combined team event yesterday when all four competitors, including normal-hill gold medalist Eric Frenzel, ski jumped 125m or better — the only team to do so.