SOCHI, Russia – Monday was Belarus Day at the Sochi Olympics.
A Belarussian woman made Olympic history by becoming the first female ever to win three biathlon titles at the same games, and one of her teammates captured the men’s freestyle skiing aerials competition to complete a gold-medal sweep on the event.
Anton Kushnir nailed a near-perfect landing after a “back double full-full-double full” jump – five twists packed into three head-over-heels flips while soaring 50 feet off the ramp and into the night sky.
“It was the best jump I’ve ever witnessed in person,” said 18-year-old American Mac Bohonnon, who finished fifth.
Darya Domracheva won her third biathlon title when she left a field of elite racers far behind to capture gold in the 12.5-kilometer mass start. As she neared the finish line, she waved her right pole above her head in celebration.
“Maybe it’s strange, but I don’t feel like I’ve done something special,” Domracheva said. “I just tried to enjoy myself and I did my race with a laugh. But for sure, it’s amazing.”
The race was in doubt earlier as dense fog forced postponement of the men’s mass start race and the men’s snowboardcross competition. It lifted just in time for the women’s race and Domracheva’s history-making performance.
Indoors, American pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold in figure skating’s ice dance, finishing just ahead of longtime training partners and rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. It was the first Olympic title in the event for the United States.
On Day 11 at the Sochi Olympics, Russia won the two-man bobsled for its fifth gold medal of the games; the U.S. and Canada advanced to the championship game of the women’s ice hockey tournament; and Germany won the men’s team ski jumping gold, raising its games-leading total to eight.
Domracheva won the pursuit and individual biathlon races last week. She took the lead for the first time after four minutes and stayed ahead of the field after the first shooting. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic took silver and Tiril Eckhoff of Norway bronze.
Russia’s winning two-man bobsled had Alexander Zubkov driving and Alexey Voevoda as the brakeman. The Swiss team of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann took silver, and the U.S. bronze, with Steven Holcomb driving and Steven Langton as brakeman. It was the first two-man bobsled medal for the U.S. in more than a half century.
Alexei Grishin won Belarus’ first ever gold medal in Vancouver four years ago – also in the men’s aerials. Afterwards, he got his picture on a stamp back home. On Monday, he failed to qualify in the aerials. Belarus now has five golds in Sochi. Australia’s David Morris finished 24 points behind Kushnir to win silver; China’s Jia Zongyang took the bronze.
Davis and White began skating together in 1997, and on the biggest day of their career, they were nearly flawless. The American pair won the silver in Vancouver in 2010, while their Canadian rivals won the gold. The two pairs train together in Detroit and are both coached by Marina Zoueva.
Germany’s win in the team event ended Austria’s winning streak. It had won gold in the last two Olympics and hasn’t lost a team large hill event since the 2005 world championships. Germany’s team included Andreas Wank, Marinus Kraus, Andres Wellinger and Severin Freund. Austria took silver and Japan won the bronze.
Megan Bozek and Brianna Decker each had a goal and two assists to help the United States beat Sweden 6-1. The United States medaled in every Winter Games since women’s hockey was added in 1998. Canada, the three-time defending gold medalist, beat Switzerland 3-1 to advance to the final for the fifth consecutive Olympics. The two North American powers have met for three of the previous four championships.
China beat Britain, 6-5, to qualify for the Olympic semifinals in men’s curling. The loss forced Britain into a tiebreaker against Norway today for the final spot in the playoffs. Canada and Sweden advanced Sunday. In the women’s tournament, Switzerland and Britain advanced to the semifinals, joining Canada and Sweden. Canada is the first women’s curling team to go through the round-robin matches without a loss.