SOCHI, Russia – A pair of skiers from Switzerland collected gold medals at the Sochi Games Friday, and a teenager from Japan overcame a pair of falls to become the first Asian man to win an Olympic title in men’s figure skating.
With competitors seeking relief from the unusually warm weather on the mountain trails, Swiss skiers earned gold in the men’s super-combined and the men’s classical-style 15-kilometer cross-country race. The haul gave the Swiss five golds, only two behind Germany.
Sandro Viletta stunned the favorites to win the super-combined. Two of the favorites, defending gold medalist Bode Miller and world champion Ted Ligety, failed to win a medal.
Dario Cologna added the other gold for Switzerland and his second of the games, winning the sweat-drenched 15K race. Cologna, who had ankle surgery in November, won the 30K skiathlon Sunday.
In figure skating, 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu claimed the men’s title, one day after Russian great Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the Olympics because of injury.
Hanyu made a bid to take Plushenko’s mantle when he became the first skater to score more than 100 points in the men’s short program Thursday. On the final night of the men’s competition, however, all three medalists had flawed performances.
Plushenko, who won gold in the team competition at the start of the Sochi Games, came under criticism at home about his decision to drop out, leaving Russia without a contestant in the men’s finals. The outburst prompted President Vladimir Putin to come to his defense.
“He really does have a big problem with his health,” Putin said, according to Russian news agencies.
On Day 8 of the Sochi Games, three other sports awarded medals: biathlon, freestyle skiing and skeleton.
Hanyu won the gold despite two falls during his free skate routine, largely because of the lead he built with his record-setting short program. Canadian Patrick Chan, skating after Hanyu, won the silver despite three errors. World silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan took bronze.
Sweden’s Johan Olsson captured the silver, finishing 28.5 seconds behind Cologna. Another Swede, Daniel Richardsson, took bronze.
Viletta finished the downhill and slalom runs in a combined time of 2 minutes, 45.20 seconds. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia earned the silver and Christof Innerhofer of Italy got bronze.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus earned her second gold medal of the games by winning the women’s 15-kilometer individual race. Domracheva, who also won the 12.5K pursuit three days ago, missed one target before finishing in 43 minutes, 19.6 seconds. Selina Gasparin of Switzerland finished 1:15.7 behind to take silver. Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus got the bronze.
Alla Tsuper of Belarus pulled off a stunning upset to win gold in women’s aerials. Tsuper beat a field that included defending Olympic champion Lydia Lassila of Australia and two-time Olympic medalist Li Nina of China. The 34-year-old Tsuper never finished higher than fifth in four previous Olympics. Xu Mengtao of China won silver while Lassila earned bronze.
Lizzy Yarnold of Britain won gold in women’s skeleton, beating rival Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States by a full second. It was Britain’s first gold medal in Sochi. Winning the silver allowed Pikus-Pace to reach her goal of closing out her career with an Olympic medal. Elena Nikitina of Russia won the bronze.
China and Britain won close games in the men’s tournament to move into a three-way tie with Sweden atop the 10-country field. China beat Norway 7-5, while Britain topped Denmark 8-6. In the women’s tournament, China beat South Korea, Britain defeated Japan, Russia beat Switzerland, and Denmark topped the United States, all but eliminating the Americans from the playoffs.
Canada topped Austria 6-0 in the preliminary rounds of men’s hockey. Also, Sweden beat Switzerland 1-0, the Czech Republic downed Latvia 4-2 and Finland defeated Norway 6-1.