Olympic Roundup: Dutch add to huge figure skating haul

Feb. 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The Dutch reduced their speed skating rivals to complete frustration and Bode Miller was reduced to tears Sunday to start the second half of the Olympics.

Thick fog delayed yet another attempt by Ole Einar Bjorndalen to set an all-time Winter Olympics record for medals won, Sweden completed a sweep of the cross-country relay golds and the men's hockey tournament completed its first phase with the United States, Sweden, Canada and Finland earning automatic berths into the quarterfinals.

An already light day of Olympic activity became even lighter Sunday when the weather finally got the upper hand at one of the venues.

The warm conditions that have invaded the mountains have created soft snow conditions, but the action has gone on anyway. Organizers of the men's super-giant slalom event, where Miller won the sixth medal of his Olympic career, did move the competition ahead an hour Sunday before the sun could have too much of an affect on the snow.

In the evening, however, fog rolled over the biathlon course and it became too thick for the competitors to have a good view on the shooting range. So the 15-kilometer mass start race that had been scheduled was postponed until Monday morning.

Bjorndalen will be on hand trying for the 13th Winter Olympics medal of his career. He is currently tied with cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie of Norway with 12. Bjorndalen won the biathlon sprint early in the Olympics to reach a dozen medals, but has failed twice since then in his attempt to set the record.

Skaters from the Netherlands, however, set a record Sunday that will be hard to beat.

Jorien ter Mors, Irene Wust and Lotte van Beek finished 1-2-3 in the 1,500-meter race, giving Dutch skaters their third medal sweep of the Olympics. The Netherlands actually had the four fastest competitors in the event -- Marrit Leenstra finishing just outside the medals.

Ter Mors set an Olympic record of 1:53.51 after she had twice competed at the short-track venue during these Games without winning a medal.

The numbers piled up by the Netherlands in speed skating have become more than amazing. The Dutch have won five out of eight events and pile up 16 out of 24 medals awarded. The old record for most speed skating medals won by one country at one Olympics had been 13, established by the East Germans in 1988 a year prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Dutch speed skaters have put their country on top of the overall medal race almost all by themselves. With an additional medal in short-track skating, the Netherlands leads the way with 17, one more than Russia and the United States and three more than Norway and Canada.

Germany has not won a gold medal since Thursday, but still leads in that category with seven. The Czech Republic won its first gold of the Sochi Olympics with Eva Samkova capturing the snowboard cross. At least one gold medal has been by 19 nations, equaling the all-time record set in Vancouver.

There is hope among the United States camp that more medals could be on the way on Monday since ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the lead after Sunday's short program and Steven Holcomb drove his two-man bobsled into third place after two runs.

Miller added to the American total Sunday with his first medal of these Olympics and the sixth of his career. That ties him with Bonnie Blair for second place on the all-time American list, two behind short-track skater Apolo Anton Ohno.

After missing out in the downhill and the combined, both of which seemed like medal possibilities for him, Miller finished in a dead heat for third Sunday in the super-giant slalom and had to wipe away the tears once he realized what he had achieved.

He finished with a time of 1:18.67, as did Canada's Jan Hudec. With two bronze medals being awarded, it marked the first time in Olympic history that four medals were handed out in an alpine event.

The race was won by Kjetil Jansrud of Norway with American Andrew Weibrecht being a surprising second.

The Norwegian gold, however, did not offset the disappointment in that country brought on by the results in cross-country skiing. Norway is a traditional powerhouse in that sport and a medal in the relays is almost always a certainty.

This year, however, Sweden swept the men's and women's cross-country relays. The Swedish men won on Sunday with Russia and France finishing second and third. Norway has gone two consecutive Olympics without winning a relay gold, something that had never happened before.

The preliminary phase of the men's hockey tournament came to a close with the United States winning its group thanks to a 5-1 win over Slovenia. Phil Kessel scored a hat trick in the victory.

Canada also won its group with a 2-1 overtime win against Finland and Sweden had won its group on Saturday to earn the No. 1 seed heading into the knockout phase of the tournament.

Finland, by virtue of a point earned its overtime loss and a plus eight goal differential, received the fourth and final bye into the quarterfinals.

Games will be played on Tuesday to determine the other four quarterfinalists. Slovenia will play Austria, the Czech Republic will take on Slovakia, Switzerland will tangle with Latvia and Russia will meet Norway.

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