Chinese skater posts long-track surprise
Zhang Hong put up an early time that no one could beat. Certainly not the Americans, who can’t get up to speed at the Sochi Olympics.
While Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe became the latest U.S. heavyweights to flame out, Zhang gave China its first long-track speedskating gold medal with a stunning victory in the women’s 1,000 meters. The winning time of 1 minutes, 14.02 seconds was nearly seven-10ths faster than anyone else, a huge margin in this event.
“I saw the time pop up and was thinking, ‘This is amazingly fast,’ ” Dutch silver medalist Ireen Wust said. “I had never done a 1:15 at sea level.”
Zhang, who had not done much on the World Cup circuit this season, broke the track record and just missed the Olympic mark set by Chris Witty at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Germany wins luge team event
Dominant again — more dominant than ever, really — Germany won the inaugural Olympic luge team relay on Thursday, with three already-golden champions joining forces to celebrate one more time at the Sochi Games.
Felix Loch, Natalie Geisenberger and the doubles team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished their runs in 2 minutes, 45.649 seconds, good enough to beat Russia for the title by 1.030 seconds. Latvia won the bronze.
Top two women skeleton riders lead
Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain and Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States held the top spots after Thursday’s opening two runs at the Sanki Sliding Center, a predictable result since they combined to win every World Cup race this season. Yarnold’s time was 1 minute, 56.89 seconds, putting her 0.44 seconds ahead of Pikus-Pace entering Friday’s final two heats.
“It’s a pretty big margin, to be honest with you,” Pikus-Pace said. “Anything’s possible. Of course it’s doable.”
Russia’s Elena Nikitina was a surprising third, and the United States’ Katie Uhlaender was fourth, just 0.14 seconds behind Nikitina in the race for bronze.
• Martin Fourcade of France on his second biathlon gold medal of the Sochi Olympics, overcoming one penalty minute to win the men’s 20-kilometer individual race. Erik Lesser of Germany won the silver medal, and the 2010 gold medalist, Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, shot won bronze.
• Li Jianrou extended China’s dominance in the women’s 500 in short-track speedskating, winning her country’s fourth consecutive title after she was the only skater who didn’t fall in the wild final. Arianna Fontana of Italy took the silver and Park Seung-hi of South Korea the bronze.
• Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland ignored the pain in her injured foot and the warm weather beating down on the women’s cross-country skiers to win Olympic gold in the 10-kilometer classical-style race. Kowalczyk, who has a stress fracture, finished in 28 minutes, 17.8 seconds. Silver medalist Charlotte Kalla of Sweden was 18.4 seconds back, and Therese Johaug of Norway took bronze, 28.3 seconds behind.