By Mark Trevelyan
Jorien ter Mors led a Dutch clean sweep in the women’s 1,500 metres speed skating on Sunday as the Netherlands’ medal tally shot up to 17, more than any other nation at the Winter Olympics in Russia.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud sped to gold in the men’s super-G alpine skiing and Czech Eva Samkova won the women’s snowboarding cross after yet more tumbles on the testing course where a Russian skier broke her back a day earlier.
Skicross racer Maria Komissarova, 23, was in a serious but stable condition after an operation lasting more than six hours on Saturday to insert a metal implant in her back.
Doctors said it would take three or four days to know how successful the surgery had been.
On the ninth day of medal competition, Sweden won their second cross-country relay gold when they prevailed in the men’s 4x10km event, ahead of Russia and France.
But many Russians’ thoughts were still on the ice hockey action of the previous day, when a late disallowed goal cost the host nation victory over arch-rivals the United States.
In a rare moment of political unity, supporters and opponents of President Vladimir Putin came together on Twitter to express their outrage after the Americans won in a shootout.
“The puck was in the goal. What an abomination. Cheating before the whole world! Disgusting!” wrote Alexei Pushkov, a senior pro-Putin member of parliament after the score was wiped out because the goal had been shifted from its mooring.
Prominent gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev, at odds with Putin over a law banning homosexual propaganda among minors that overshadowed the build-up to the Games, was left in shock: “There’s a huge scandal in the hockey tournament. The American referee didn’t allow the Russian goal. Damn!”
After pre-Games criticism over human rights and the estimated $50 billion cost of bringing the Olympics to Sochi, Putin can so far take satisfaction from an event where Russia has shown a friendly, welcoming face to the rest of the world and the sporting action has yielded plenty of drama.
In the speed skating, Ter Mors clocked an Olympic record of one minute, 53.51 seconds to take gold ahead of team mates Ireen Wust, the defending champion, and Lotte Van Beek. For good measure, another Dutchwoman, Marrit Leenstra, finished fourth.
It was a third speed skating medal sweep in Sochi for the orange-suited Dutch, after the men completed the feat in the 500 and 5,000m.
The United States’ wait for a first speed skating medal went on. Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe finished seventh and 14th in their old skinsuits after the team ditched their Olympic ‘Mach 39’ ones on Saturday in the hope of gaining extra speed.
On the Rosa Khutor piste in the Caucasus mountains, Jansrud secured Norway’s fourth successive Olympic men’s super-G win, while 36-year-old American Bode Miller tied for bronze with Canada’s Jan Hudec to become the oldest ever Alpine skiing medallist.
Miller’s team mate Andrew Weibrecht captured a surprise silver medal after starting 29th, with all the favourites gone.
“When Andrew came down he scared me,” laughed Jansrud. “It was a little too exciting. My legs were like jelly there for a second but I knew I had finished very strong.”
Czech snowboarder Samkova, sporting a fake moustache drawn on her top lip for good luck, avoided the rough and tumble of the pack in the thrilling cross event where racers go head to head down a twisty course full of bumps and jumps, jostling with their rivals to find the best line.
“It’s a lucky moustache. Today it’s in national colours,” she said of her facial adornment in red, white and blue.
Defending champion Maelle Ricker of Canada and 2006 silver medallist Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States were eliminated in the heats after taking tumbles on the Extreme Park course.
Dominique Maltais of Canada claimed silver to add to the bronze she won in Turin eight years ago, while French teenager Chloe Trespeuch was third.
Earlier, two more racers were stretchered off after bad falls – Norway’s Helene Olafsen with knee damage and American Jacqueline Hernandez with concussion, though neither of the injuries was serious.
After 55 of 98 events, the Dutch led the overall medals table with 17 – a remarkable achievement for a country of around 16.7 million people. All were for skating and five were golds – equal with Norway and Switzerland, and two behind Germany. Russia, Canada, the United States and Poland were on four golds each.