POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 10, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 2:23 a.m. HST, Feb 10, 2014
SOCHI, Russia » Matthias Mayer shut his eyes for a moment, his day’s work over.
If he had trouble believing what had just happened as he stood before the crowd, it was with good reason. The Austrian struck a big upset Sunday in one of the Olympics’ marquee events, capturing the men’s downhill and upending the elite of his sport.
“It’s amazing to be an Olympic champion,” he said.
Mayer has never finished better than fifth in a World Cup downhill. That proved no obstacle in dismissing the preordained favorites — Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished fourth and Bode Miller of the U.S. eighth.
Among the eight gold medalists on Day 3 were Irene Wust, who showed why speedskating is Dutch territory, and Russia in team figure skating, likewise an Olympic newcomer, for its first gold in Sochi.
Fred Lief, Associated Press
In a country where skiing is revered, Mayer gave Austria a jolt. A few weeks ago he was not even considered the nation’s best shot for gold. But he covered the Rosa Khutor course in 2 minutes, 6.23 seconds and beat Italy’s Christof Innerhofer by 0.06 seconds. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won the bronze. Miller, who dominated the training runs, was so unnerved by the change of visibility he thought he’d have “to do something magical to win.”
With Evgeni Plushenko and a captivating Julia Lipnitskaia winning the free skates, Russia took the team event without needing to worry about the concluding ice dance. President Vladimir Putin was among those in a crowd relishing this victory as the Russians drew away from the U.S. and Canada. Plushenko’s body has been battered by 12 operations, and he had to convince his federation he merited a spot in Sochi. “All the fans are cheering so hard that you literally cannot do badly because they do everything with you,” Plushenko said. “You get goose bumps.”
Wust gave the Netherlands its second victory by winning the 3,000. Skating before her king and queen, Wust won in 4:00.34, beating defending champ Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic, who took the silver. Wust, her nails red, white and blue like the Dutch flag, held up three fingers, signifying her third Olympic gold medal.
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna had ankle surgery in November, but that now seems ancient. He won the 30-kilometer skiathlon in 1:08:15.4, pulling away at the top of the last uphill section. The three-time overall World Cup winner claimed his second Olympic gold medal.
Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina matched her gold from Vancouver in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. Kuzmina shot flawlessly and finished in 21:06.8. Her brother is Russian biathlete Anton Shipulin, who was fourth Saturday.
Germany’s Felix Loch won his second straight Olympic gold medal, leaving the rest of the field in his icy wake. Loch completed four runs down the Sanki Sliding Center track in 3:27.562 seconds — 0.476 seconds ahead of Russia’s Albert Demchenko, who won the silver in his seventh Olympics. Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler won the bronze, giving him a record six medals in six games.
In control from the start, Kamil Stoch of Poland won the Olympic gold in the men’s normal hill individual ski jump. Stoch had the best jump in each round, putting him first ahead of silver medalist Peter Prevc of Slovenia.