New doping blow as Canada skaters soar
THE Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was hit by a third doping scandal yesterday, casting a shadow over the magic on ice served up by peerless Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
On a day when the first unified Korean Olympic team took an emotional bow, the Games suffered a fresh doping blow with the suspension of Slovenian ice hockey player Ziga Jeglic.
It came soon after a Russian bronze medalist in curling was suspended for failing a doping test and a Japanese short-track speedskater was similarly kicked out of the Games last week.
Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium while Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol, a banned substance used to treat breathing difficulties, and was given 24 hours to quit the Olympic Village.
The latest drugs scandal hit just after one of the high points of the Games — a magnificent performance by Virtue and Moir to take ice dance gold.
They skated last after watching French rivals Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron break their own free dance record and top the standings with the best combined total of their careers.
The pressure was unbearable but Virtue and Moir showed no signs of buckling, skating out a flawless routine to Roxanne from Moulin Rouge in what may well be their last hurrah on the world stage. “Amazing. It was a special moment to come out last,” said Virtue.
Away from the grace and elegance of the skating rink, Martin Fourcade became the most decorated French athlete in Olympic history as he helped his country to gold in the biathlon mixed relay.
It was the remarkable 29-year-old’s fifth Olympic title, his third in South Korea. “We often say that we are doing an individual sport but we are living more than 220 days a year together,” Fourcade said, stressing it was a team achievement.
In contrast, his fellow French competitor Marie Martinod flopped on her final run in freestyle skiing’s halfpipe to hand gold to Cassie Sharpe of Canada.
Sharpe produced some jaw-dropping aerobatics and celebrated by raising her hands behind her head in a bunny-ear sign as she crossed the line backwards.
There were tears and cheers as the unified Korean women’s hockey team exited the Olympics with a 1-6 defeat to Sweden in its final game.
The team, with 12 North Koreans on its roster, was hastily assembled, but had little success, shipping 28 goals and scoring just twice in its five defeats.