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USA end 20-year hockey drought, Russian curler admits doping

USA’s Megan Keller (left) celebrates with teammate Danielle Cameranesi after winning the women’s ice hockey at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics yesterday. AFP
USA’s Megan Keller (left) celebrates with teammate Danielle Cameranesi after winning the women’s ice hockey at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics yesterday. AFP

USA end 20-year hockey drought, Russian curler admits doping

America’s women broke an ice hockey gold medal drought stretching back 20 years on Thursday as a Russian curler admitted doping and was stripped of bronze at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin was denied gold in the women’s combined, while veteran teammate Lindsey Vonn bombed out of the same event, in a sad end to her Olympic career.

In the ice hockey, USA edged fierce rivals Canada 3-2 on penalties, celebrating ecstatically when goaltender Maddie Rooney saved the decisive attempt from Canada’s Meghan Agosta.

America’s win torpedoed a 24-game Olympic win streak for Canada, the four-time defending champions. It also edged USA 12-11 ahead over their fierce rivals in Olympic and world titles.

Away from the competition, Russia’s Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his mixed doubles curling bronze medal after testing positive for meldonium, an endurance booster.

The 25-year-old was one of 168 Russian athletes who passed rigorous testing to compete as neutrals in Pyeongchang, after Russia were banned over a major doping scandal.

Krushelnitsky’s case comes as the International Olympic Committee consider whether to lift Russia’s suspension in time to fly their flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

In skiing, Shiffrin was restricted to second place in the women’s combined, meaning she ends the Games with one gold and one silver – a far cry from the potential five titles she had targeted.

“I came into these Olympics knowing I could be a medal threat in multiple disciplines,” the 22-year-old said.

“After the gold in the giant slalom, I was really hopeful and positive. Then I had a tougher day in the slalom [when as defending champion, she lost her title] but it still feels good.”

Vonn, 33 and competing at her last Olympics, led the combined after the downhill race but only lasted a couple of gates in the slalom before skiing out.

‘It means everything’

There was a shock in the men’s slalom as the favourites Marcel Hirscher and Henrik Kristoffersen both imploded, allowing Sweden’s Andre Myhrer to become the event’s oldest champion at 35 years and 42 days.

Austria’s Hirscher, seeking his third gold medal in Pyeongchang, crashed out in the morning run and Kristoffersen of Norway followed suit in the afternoon, leaving the stunned Myhrer to top the podium.

“It means everything. I’ve been training my whole life for a moment like this,” said the Swede.

In the men’s ski halfpipe, American defending champion David Wise kept his nerve despite crashing out of his first two runs to seal victory on the final attempt.

Wise, 27, twice lost a ski on his first two runs but he recovered to notch up a scintillating 97.2 on his last attempt and lead a USA one-two ahead of Alex Ferreira.

“I’m honestly just in disbelief right now,” Wise said.

“Winning, losing, whatever. Just the fact that I landed that run in the moment when it needed to happen, on that third run, just felt so good.”

Among the evening events, South Korea’s teenage short-track speed skater Choi Min-jeong suffered heartbreak as she crashed out of her final event, the women’s 1,000m.

Choi, winner of the 1,500m and 3,000m relay, clipped the blades of team-mate Shim Suk-hee in the final lap, sending both skaters hurtling into the side padding.

South Korea were also knocked out of contention after a fall in the men’s 5,000m relay, in which Hungary won their first ever Winter Olympics gold medal.

China, hosts of the next Winter Games in 2022, won their first gold of Pyeongchang when Wu Dajing set a new world record in the men’s 500m.

Elsewhere on day 13, Belarus won the women’s 4x6km biathlon, and Germany were crowned champions in Nordic skiing’s team Gundersen.

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