Carlo Janka captured his first Olympic title and Switzerland’s sixth at the winter Olympics with victory in the men’s giant slalom while South Korea bagged another speed skating win and saw Kim Yu-Na move closer to a figure skating gold.
Hosts Canada also celebrated a sixth gold medal, and breathed a sigh of relief that its men’s ice hockey team reached the quarterfinals, while victories also came the way of Russia and Austria on day 12 of the Vancouver Games.
There was drama in the speed skating rink when Dutch medal favourite Sven Kramer was disqualified, allowing South Korea’s Lee Seung-Hoon in for gold in the men’s 10,000 metres.
Kramer, the 5,000m gold medallist, appeared well on course for his second gold of the Games but was wrongly directed by his coach to make a crossover from the outer to the inner lane eight laps from the end of a powerful run.
“It was my mistake, my responsibility,” said coach Gerard Kemkers who has trained the world champion and world record holder for the last five years.
“It is the worst moment of my career. My world collapsed.” Canada earned a sixth gold of the Games when Ashleigh McIvor became the first women’s ski cross medallist on the sport’s winter Olympics debut at the Games.
Meanwhile world champions Russia won the women’s biathlon relay gold for the second straight time and the Austrian team clinched the team event in Nordic combined.
After days of clear sunny skies, wintry weather returned to the Games venues with snow falling particularly at Cypress Mountain where McIvor captured ski cross gold ahead of Hedda Berntsen of Norway and Marion Josserand of France.
“This is just the most amazing thing in my entire life. I am so proud of myself,” said McIver. “There’s nothing I could have done to be better equipped.” At Whistler Creekside, Janka took the giant slalom after notching the best time in the first run to continue Switzerland’s successful Games.
“It’s fantastic, I think I don’t realise it yet,” said Janka.
“It’s such a great thing to be Olympic champion and I am just 23 years old, it’s just amazing.” Kjetil Jansrud of Norway jumped from 11th place after the first run to the silver medal while teammate, super-G gold medallist and downhill silver medal winner Aksel Lund Svindal, grabbed the bronze.
The Russian team of Svetlana Sleptsova, Anna Bogaliy-Titovets, Olga Medvedtseva and Olga Zaitseva dominated the 4x6-kilometres biathlon, with Zaitseva blowing kisses to the crowd before crossing the line where her teammates were waiting to celebrate. France got the silver and Germany the bronze.
The Nordic combined team event went to Austria ahead of the United States and Germany.
In one of the most eagerly-awaited events of the Games, reigning world champion Kim Yu-Na put herself in a strong position to win the women’s figure skating gold with a world record points tally in the short programme.
The South Korean left her Japanese rival Mao Asado trailing in second place at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum going into Thursday’s free skating.
Kim earned 78.50 points for her James Bond routine that ended with her hands clasped together in the shape of a pistol. It was an immediate response to Asada who had skated before her and gone ahead on 73.78 points.
Canada’s Joannie Rochette, the world silver medallist, received a rousing welcome in her first appearance since her mother Therese died early Sunday after arriving in Vancouver from the family home in Montreal.
Rochette give a flawless display to La Cumparsita and fought back tears on completion of a programme which earned her a personal best 71.36 to put her into the bronze medal position.
The ice hockey tournament saw favourites Canada respond to a 5-3 defeat to the United States to ease past Germany 8-2 in the play-off qualifications to set up a quarterfinal battle against two-time reigning champions Russia on Wednesday.