Germany bagged gold medals in biathlon and luge, hosts Canada celebrated another victory while South Korea triumphed again in speed skating at the Winter Olympics.
However, overnight snow forced the cancellation of the men’s super combined alpine ski event, and organizers had to scrap the standing-room area at the snowboard venue after days of heavy rain.
The Vancouver organisers and International Olympic Committee dismissed international press criticism of the Games, which have had to deal with the death of a Georgian luger, adverse weather conditions and a number of technical and transportation problems.
Renee Smith-Valade, organising committee VANOC’s director of communications, said she had been “shocked” by some of the coverage, saying the feedback from athletes and spectators had been positive.
“It is a little bit like lost luggage. It’s not whether your luggage gets lost its how you deal with it,” she said.
“Sometimes things can happen. The most important thing is being creative, responding quickly and coming up with good solutions.” The organisers admitted to underestimating the public interest in the cauldron burning at the Vancouver waterside which has been attracting thousand of visitors every day.
After criticism that the view was being hindered by an ugly chain-link fence, VANOC chief executive John Furling promised action to make the site more attractive to the public and make it easier to take photographs.
The latest setback for organisers came at Cypress Mountains where rain has washed away the snow ferried in next to the course for snowboarding and was deemed unsafe for standing spectators. A total of some 28,000 tickets will be refunded.
Caley Denton, VANOC’s vice-president of ticketing, said: “It’s too unstable up there to have people walking around the sides of the course. It’s a disappointing decision for us and our biggest disappointment is taking away that Olympic experience.” The Games’ weather woes could, however, be over. The forecasts predicted clear blue skies for the next few days.
With almost a quarter of the medal events already decided, Germany went to the top of the medals table thanks to golds for Magdalena Neuner in biathlon and Tatjana Huefner in luge.
Neuner dominated a women’s pursuit race at Whistler. In a reverse of Saturday’s sprint finish, Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina had to settle for silver while Marie Laure Brunet took bronze.
Huefner clinched Germany’s fourth straight Olympic women’s luge gold ahead of Nina Reithmayer of Austria and German teammate Natalie Geisenberger.
The men’s biathlon pursuit saw Bjoern Ferry come from behind to win Sweden’s second men’s biathlon gold half a century after the first. Austrian Christoph Sumann won silver while the sprint winner Vincent Jay of France added bronze.
Maelle Ricker captured Canada’s first snowboard Olympic gold medal since 1998 by winning the snowboard cross competition. It was Canada’s second gold of the Games following the men’s freestyle skiing moguls victory by Alexandre Bilodeau on Sunday.
South Korea collected another speed skating gold when Lee Sang-Hwa clinched the women’s 500m ahead of Germany’s Jenny Wolf and Wang Beixing of China. It came a day after Mo Tae-Bum won the men’s 500m in what was South Korea’s first Olympic gold medal outside short track.
In men’s figure skating, Yevgeny Plushenko took the first step in defending his 2006 Olympic gold medal by using a quadruple jump to take a slight lead in Tuesday’s short program.
Plushenko, bidding to become the first skater to retain the title in 58 years, finished with a score of 90.85 points, followed by 2009 world champion Evan Lysacek of the United States (90.30) and Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi (90.25).