The Russian men’s ice hockey team has again come up empty handed in its quest for an Olympic gold medal.
At the Bolshoi Ice Dome Wednesday in Sochi, Finland eliminated Russia from the tournament with a 3-1 win in the quarterfinals, putting a stunning end to the Russians’ hopes of winning gold on their turf. Finland’s Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund each had a goal and an assist, and teammate Tuukka Rask made 37 saves.
Russian teams have not won a gold medal in hockey since 1992. Four years ago in Vancouver, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Canada.
Russian fans poured out of the Bolshoi Ice Dome disappointed that their team, one of the favorites in Sochi, failed to advance.
“I just don’t have any words right now. This was a home Olympics. We didn’t have the right to make a mistake, and we made a mistake,” said one man. “Of course we always believe in, love our Russian team, but recently for some reason they let us down. We have no words, just disappointment.”
On Friday Finland will face top-seeded Sweden, which crushed Slovenia 5-0 in the men’s hockey semifinals. Canada topped Latvia 2-1 in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round, in which the U.S. downed the Czech Republic 5-2.
Also Wednesday, Norwegian biathlon star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won a 13th gold medal, the most ever at the Winter Olympics. He helped spark Norway’s team that finished first in the mixed biathlon relay.
It was Bjoerndalen’s second gold medal in Sochi, following a first-place finish in the biathlon 10-kilometer sprint.
Winning the sprint made the 40-year-old Bjoerndalen the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist in an individual sport. Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson was 39 when he won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Norway also won gold Wednesday in the women’s cross country relay.
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Flugstad Oestberg finished first in the race, where teams of two women each perform three alternate sprints. It was Bjoergen’s fifth Olympic gold medal and second at the Sochi Games.
In other medal events Wednesday, Finland took advantage of a fall by Germany on the final descent to win gold in the men’s team cross country sprint. The Finnish duo of Sami Jauhojaervi and Iivo Niskanen posted the winning time.
American skier Ted Ligety won gold in the men’s giant slalom. His two-run time edged out France’s Steve Missillier, who took the silver, and another Frenchman, Alexis Pinturault, who won bronze.
Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer won the first-ever women’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding event, and Russia’s Vic Wild won the men’s competition.
In women’s 5,000-meter speedskating, Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic defended her Olympic title with a record time of six minutes, 51.54 seconds. The Dutch won silver and bronze.
Also, Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse won their second straight Olympic women’s bobsledding gold medal.
In women’s curling, Canada and Sweden will play for the gold medal for the second straight Olympic Games after winning semifinals that each went to the final shot on Wednesday. Britain will play Switzerland for the bronze medal.
In the women’s figure skating short program, South Korea’s Yuna Kim is trying to become the first back-to-back champion in the event since 1988. Her competition includes 2010 silver medalist Mao Asada from Japan, and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia, who emerged as a star last week helping host Russia win gold in the first-ever team competition.
After 12 days of competition in Sochi, the United States leads the overall medal count with 23. Russia and the Netherlands are tied with 22 apiece, followed by Norway with 20, Canada with 18 and Germany with 15. In gold medals, Norway leads with nine and Germany has eight.
Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.