SOCHI, Russia (AP) – A Russian hockey team with immense expectations lost its shot at an Olympic title Wednesday at a Winter Games tempered by violence both in the host city and in nearby Ukraine.
Finland beat the Russians 3-1, knocking them out of the quarterfinals and ending their chances of winning a hockey gold medal in front of their own fans.
Defending Olympic champion Canada had a scare from upstart Latvia before a late goal sealed a 2-1 win. The U.S. advanced easily with a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. The U.S. will meet Canada and Sweden will take on Finland in Friday’s semifinals.
Another Russian with great expectations, 15-year-old figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, fell during the women’s short program and finished fifth. Defending gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea led the competition, which finishes Thursday.
Ted Ligety of the U.S. won gold in men’s giant slalom, the first American man to win two Olympic medals in Alpine skiing. American-turned Russian snowboarder Vic Wild won the men’s parallel giant slalom, minutes after his Russian wife, Alexa Zavarzina, won bronze in the women’s competition.
In downtown Sochi, Cossack militia attacked the Pussy Riot punk group with horsewhips and removed members’ trademark ski masks. The confrontation lasted less than three minutes and no one was arrested.
Earlier, Sergei Bubka, the pole vault great who heads the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, urged both sides in Ukraine’s political crisis to halt the violence that left at least 25 people dead and 240 injured in Kiev on Tuesday. The crisis centers on divided loyalties in Ukraine between Russia and the West.
“I’m shocked by what is happening in my native country – especially because the violence is taking place during the Olympic Games, the world’s most peaceful and democratic event,” Bubka said.
On Day 13 of the Sochi Olympics, Norway won the first Olympic mixed relay in biathlon, making Ole Einar Bjoerndalen the most decorated Winter Olympian ever with 13 medals; Norway also won the women’s cross-country team sprint, with Finland taking the men’s title; Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic denied the Netherlands another speedskating podium sweep; and the Canadian women won the gold in bobsled.
ICE HOCKEY: Finland’s win over Russia was not an upset. The Finns had advanced to the semifinals as the fourth seed, while Russia had to win a consolation round game to advance to the final eight. Sweden continued its undefeated run, beating Slovenia 5-0 to advance to the semifinals.
FIGURE SKATING: Kim scored 74.92 points, ahead of Adelina Sotnikova of Russia by 0.28. Carolina Kostner of Italy is third with 74.12. Lipnitskaia, who helped Russia win the team gold on Feb. 9, fell on a triple flip. She was too tearful to speak after her worst performance in months. American champion Gracie Gold was fourth.
ALPINE SKIING: Ligety was 21 when he won his first gold medal in the combined at the 2006 Turin Games. The only other American to win two Olympic golds in Alpine skiing was Andrea Mead Lawrence, who took the women’s slalom and giant slalom at the 1952 Oslo Games. On Wednesday, Steve Missillier of France took the silver and teammate Alexis Pinturault the bronze.
CROSS-COUNTRY: Marit Bjoergen captured her fifth career Olympic gold medal when Norway won the women’s team sprint. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg was the other Norwegian skier. Finland took silver and Sweden bronze. In the men’s race, Finland took advantage of a fall that slowed its two closest rivals. Russia grabbed the silver, Sweden the bronze.
SNOWBOARDING: Wild grew up in White Salmon, Wash., and applied for Russian citizenship after marrying Zavarzina in 2011. He then joined the Russian snowboarding team. Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland finished second for silver, and Zan Kosir of Slovenia took the bronze. In the women’s race, Patrizia Kummer cruised to victory – and Switzerland’s sixth gold medal of the games – when Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi missed a gate midway through the second run of the finals.
SPEEDSKATING: Sablikova won her second consecutive gold in the women’s 5,000 meters. The Dutch still added two more medals, with Ireen Wust winning silver and Carien Kleibeuker the bronze. Wust now has won four medals at the Sochi Games, including gold in the 3,000 and silvers in the 1,000 and 1,500. Dutch speedskaters have 21 medals overall.
BIATHLON: Bjoerndalen broke the record for overall medals that he had shared with cross-country skiing great Bjoern Daehlie. He also matched his fellow Norwegian’s record of eight gold medals. Bjoerndalen earlier won gold in Sochi in the men’s sprint biathlon. He can win another medal in the final men’s biathlon event of the Sochi Games, the 4×7.5-kilometer relay on Saturday. In the mixed relay biathlon, the Czech Republic won the silver and Italy the bronze.
BOBSLED: The Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse won their second straight Olympic women’s bobsled gold. Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams of the U.S. took silver, and teammates Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans the bronze. Williams became the fifth Olympian to medal at both the Summer and Winter Games. She has gold and silver medals from three Olympic appearances as a sprinter.
CURLING: Canada and Sweden will play for the gold medal in women’s curling after winning semifinal games that went to the final shot. In the men’s tournament, Canada will meet Britain for gold.
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