US ends 20-year hockey drought, Russian curler stripped of medal

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AMERICA'S women broke an ice hockey gold medal drought stretching back 20 years yesterday as a Russian curler admitted doping and was stripped of bronze.
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Reuters

China’s men’s relay team (middle, back row) celebrates with other team members after winning silver in the 5,000 meters relay final during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, South Korea, yesterday. Hungary took the surprise gold with Canada taking bronze. 

AMERICA’S women broke an ice hockey gold medal drought stretching back 20 years yesterday as a Russian curler admitted doping and was stripped of bronze at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

United States skier Mikaela Shiffrin was denied gold in the women’s combined, while veteran teammate Lindsey Vonn bombed out of the same event, in a sad end to her Olympic career.

In ice hockey, the US edged fierce rival Canada 3-2 on penalties, celebrating ecstatically when goaltender Maddie Rooney saved the decisive attempt from Canada’s Meghan Agosta.

America’s win torpedoed a 24-game Olympic win streak for Canada, the four-time defending champion. It also edged the US 12-11 ahead over its arch-rival in Olympic and world titles.

Away from the competition, Russia’s Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his mixed doubles curling bronze medal after testing positive for meldonium, an endurance booster.

The 25-year-old was one of 168 Russian athletes who passed rigorous testing to compete as neutrals in Pyeongchang, after Russia was banned over a major doping scandal.

Krushelnitsky’s case comes as the International Olympic Committee consider whether to lift Russia’s suspension in time to fly their flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

In skiing, Shiffrin was restricted to second place in the women’s combined, meaning she ends the Games with one gold and one silver — a far cry from the potential five titles she had targeted.

“I came into these Olympics knowing I could be a medal threat in multiple disciplines,” the 22-year-old said.

“After the gold in the giant slalom, I was really hopeful and positive. Then I had a tougher day in the slalom (when as defending champion, she lost her title) but it still feels good.”

Vonn, 33 and competing in her last Games, led the combined after the downhill race, but she only lasted a couple of gates in the slalom before skiing out.

There was a shock in the men’s slalom as the favorites Marcel Hirscher and Henrik Kristoffersen both imploded, allowing Sweden’s Andre Myhrer to become the event’s oldest champion at 35 years and 42 days.

Austria’s Hirscher, seeking his third gold medal in Pyeongchang, crashed out in the morning run and Kristoffersen of Norway followed suit in the afternoon, leaving the stunned Myhrer to top the podium.

“It means everything. I’ve been training my whole life for a moment like this,” said the Swede.

In the men’s ski halfpipe, American defending champion David Wise kept his nerve despite crashing out of his first two runs to seal victory on the final attempt.

Wise, 27, twice lost a ski on his first two runs but he recovered to notch up a scintillating 97.2 on his last attempt and lead a US one-two ahead of Alex Ferreira.

“I’m honestly just in disbelief right now,” Wise said.

“Winning, losing, whatever. Just the fact that I landed that run in the moment when it needed to happen, on that third run, just felt so good.”

Among the evening events, South Korea’s teenage short-track speedskater Choi Min-jeong suffered heartbreak as she crashed out of her final event, the women’s 1,000 meters.

Choi, winner of the 1,500 and 3,000 relay, clipped the blades of team-mate Shim Suk-hee in the final lap, sending both skaters hurtling into the side padding.

South Korea was also knocked out of contention after a fall in the men’s 5,000 relay, in which Hungary won its first ever Winter Olympics gold medal, with China, led by Wu Dajing, taking silver.

In other events yesterday, Anna Gasser of Austria won the women’s Big Air snowboarding event, and Germany took the Nordic combined team title.

Belarus won the gold in the women’s 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay, finishing in 1 hour, 12 minutes, 3.4 seconds.

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