Saturday's Olympic Highlights

Feb. 22, 2014 at 2:17 PM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Highlights from Saturday's action at the Winter Olympics:

-- Victories in the men's biathlon relay and snowboarding parallel slalom along with a bronze in women's team pursuit speed skating left Russia with 29 medals. That virtually assures the host country of sitting on top of the overall medal table in the first Winter Olympic held on Russian soil. Prior to this year, the most medals Russia had ever won in a Winter Games had been the 23 collected in Lillehammer 20 years ago. Norway and Russia both have 11 gold medals going into Sunday's final events and both have competitors who hope to do well in the 50-kilometer cross-country race. Russia will also have a good shot at winning the four-man bobsled event.

-- Ole Einar Bjorndalen, at age 40, finished what he says will be his last Olympics. The Norwegian biathlete came into these Games needing two medals to set a career record at the Winter Games and that is how many he won. His record-tying 12th medal, a gold one, came early in the Olympics in the sprint race and he then broke the record with a triumph in the mixed team event. Bjorndalen had four opportunities to add to his total, but suffered a series of disappointments, one of them coming in Saturday's relay. Norway finished fourth in that event, which was unexpectedly won by Russia.

-- Cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen of Norway won the 10th medal of her career and the sixth gold thanks to a victory in the 4x5-kilometer relay. Both her gold and overall medal totals equal the Winter Olympics record for a woman. She tied Soviet cross-country racer Raisa Smetanina for most medals won and equaled the gold total achieved by speed skater Lidia Skoblikova, also a representative of the Soviet Union.

-- The astonishing Dutch speed skating team finished off its record-shattering performance with wins in both the men's and women's team pursuit races. It would have been a shock if the Netherlands had lost either race. Saturday's victories gave the Dutch speed skater 23 medals out of a possible 32. That is nine more medals ever won by any one nation in any one sport in any one Winter Olympics.

-- After defeating Russia in an extraordinary game during group play, the United States appeared to have the momentum needed to come away with a hockey medal. A gold seemed within reach. Those hopes only increased after a solid quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic. During the next 120 minutes of action, however, the United States did not score a goal while losing to Canada in the semifinals and to Finland in Saturday's bronze medal game. Finland rolled to a 5-0 victory with 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, playing in his sixth Olympics, scoring twice.

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