Bjoergen makes Winter Games history

TOP DOGS::Two Norwegians became the most-decorated Winter Olympians of all time: Marit Bjoergen with 10 medals (six gold) and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen with 13 (eight gold)

Staff writer, with agencies, KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia

Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - Page 20

Marit Bjoergen became the most decorated woman Winter Olympian in history yesterday by leading a Norwegian sweep in the women’s 30km cross-country ski race at the Sochi Games.

Bjoergen won her sixth Olympic gold, to go with three silvers and a bronze. Her career total of 10 puts her ahead of Russian cross-country skier Lyubov Egorova, who had six golds and three silvers.

Two other women — Stafania Belmondo of Italy and Soviet skier Raisa Smetanina — also have 10 medals in cross-country, but fewer golds.

The Norwegian women finally displayed their dominance of the sport yesterday, as Bjoergen pulled away from teammate Therese Johaug heading into the stadium and sprinted alone to win her third gold of the Sochi Olympics.

She also won three gold medals in Vancouver.

Johaug took silver and Kristin Stoermer Steira was third.

Russia’s US-born snowboarder Vic Wild completed a historic double yesterday by claiming parallel slalom gold.

Wild had already won the parallel giant slalom title on Wednesday, but was not prepared to settle for just that.

“It has taken a lot of hard work, man. When everyone else in the summer is taking vacation, I am working hard. I train, I train, and it paid off,” Wild said.

His real moment of brilliance came in the semi-finals against four-time world champion Benjamin Karl from Austria.

Wild made a mistake on the first run, meaning that he was hit with the maximum deficit of 1.12 seconds ahead of the second run.

His double hopes seemed over, but he produced a startling run to claw back all that time and more to steam into the final.

There he was pushed all the way by Slovenia’s Zan Kosir, but he still won by just 0.11 seconds.

Karl added Olympic bronze to the silver he won in Vancouver in 2010 in the parallel giant slalom by beating Italy’s Aaron March.

In the women’s parallel slalom competition, Austria’s Julia Dujmovits was a shock winner.

The 26-year-old overturned a huge 0.72 second deficit following the first run to beat Germany’s Anke Karstens by just 0.12 seconds following the second.

It was the first time she has ever won an elite-level parallel slalom race.

Amelie Kober of Germany narrowly held off charging Italian Corinna Boccacini to claim bronze.

Earlier, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the most decorated Winter Games athlete with his 13th Olympic medal this week and the Norwegian capped a successful Sochi Games by being elected to the International Olympic Committee’s athletes commission.

The 40-year-old won 1,087 votes of his peers, followed by Canadian ice hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser with 758, and both were elected as commission members for an eight-year term.

Bjoerndalen won gold in the biathlon 10km sprint and mixed relay to edge ahead of former cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie and move alongside his compatriot as the all-time leading gold medalist on eight.

Also yesterday, the South Korean Olympic Committee protested the results of the women’s figure skating competition, although the sport’s international governing body has not yet received their letter.

International Skating Union rules always have required such protests be filed immediately after the event.

The South Koreans believe the judging was biased and cost Yuna Kim a second gold medal. The 2010 champion finished with silver, behind Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova.

Much of the uproar over the women’s free skate centers on what many perceived as a lack of artistry in Sotnikova’s program. Yet her marks were comparable or better than those for the highly artistic Kim. Her technical marks were significantly better.

Meanwhile, four Ukrainian women gave their politically torn country some good news at the Games on Friday and Canada delivered more bad news to the US — yet another Olympic ice hockey defeat.

As government and opposition leaders worked to end the months-long Ukrainian crisis that erupted in deadly violence this week, the Ukraine women’s 4x6km biathlon relay team won the nation’s first gold medal in two decades.

The four women celebrated with a Ukrainian flag as lawmakers back home paused to mark the occasion.

“Great proof of how sport can unite the nation,” Sergei Bubka, the pole vault great and leader of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, wrote on Twitter.

There were no celebrations for the US men’s hockey team, with Canada winning 1-0 and dashing the American hopes for men’s gold for the third time since 2002. And it happened just one night after the Canadian women had ousted their American counterparts for the third straight Olympics.

Canada and Sweden are to play for the men’s gold today. The Swedes beat Finland 2-1.

The first doping cases also hit the Winter Games on Friday. Italian bobsledder William Frullani and German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle were kicked out of the games after positive doping tests.

Also on Friday, 18-year-old US skier Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest-ever gold medal winner in the women’s slalom; Marielle Thompson of Canada edged teammate Kelsey Serwa for the gold in women’s skicross; Canada routed Britain 9-3 to win their third straight gold medal in men’s curling; and short track speedskating gold medals went to Viktor Ahn of Russia in the men’s 500m, to Park Seung-hi of South Korea in the women’s 1,000m, and to Russia in the men’s 5,000m relay.