POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 19, 2014
SOCHI, Russia >> The politics got a little hotter. The slopes got a lot slushier.
On a day when the mountain courses seemed better suited for the crawl or butterfly but posed no obstacle to Tina Maze, the Sochi Olympics took a more overt political turn.
Two members of the punk band Pussy Riot -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina -- were among nine people detained Tuesday while walking in downtown Sochi. All were later released and no charges were filed.
Police said the two band members were questioned about a theft at the hotel where they were staying.
Pussy Riot has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Vladimir Putin's government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.
At the Olympic Park, the Russian men's hockey team looked plenty vulnerable in its opening hockey game in the elimination round, defeating Norway 4-0 in a game that -- despite the scoreline -- was anything but a rout.
No questions, however, about the Dutch speedskaters. Jorrit Bergsma won the men's 10,000 meters to lead another sweep of the medals for the Netherlands.
Seven gold medals were on offer on Day 12 and among the winners were Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway in biathlon, Pierre Vaultier of France in snowboardcross, South Korea in short track relay and Joergen Graabak of Norway in Nordic combined.
Maze captured her second gold medal by winning the giant slalom. The Slovenian was in full command, leading all the way and finishing 0.07 seconds ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria. Defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was the bronze medalist and teen sensation Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was fifth in her Olympic debut.
Russia did not look strong in the preliminary round, and that was the case against Norway, which hasn't won an Olympic hockey game since its home Lillehammer Games in 1994. The game was scoreless after one period and 2-0 after two. Russia got two goals from Alexander Radulov and advanced to the quarterfinals against Finland on Wednesday. Latvia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia also advanced to the quarterfinals.
Bergsma set an Olympic record with his time of 12 minutes, 44.45 seconds. He was followed by Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong, sending the Dutch to their fourth podium sweep at this venue and giving them a total of 19 speedskating medals.
Svendsen edged Martin Fourcade of France to win gold in the men's 15-kilometer mass start biathlon. They both finished in 42 minutes, 29.1 seconds, with Svendsen's ski crossing the line a fraction ahead. This was Svendsen's fourth career Olympic medal but first in Sochi. Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic won bronze.
Vaultier held off Nikolay Olyunin of Russia to win the gold medal in men's snowboardcross on a chopped-up course slowed by drizzle. Alex Deibold of the U.S., a wax technician for the Americans in Vancouver four years ago, took the bronze. Italy's Omar Visintin was removed by a stretcher after crashing in the semifinals.
South Korea won the 3,000-meter relay, passing China on the last lap to take the lead. Italy took the bronze, giving Arianna Fontana her third medal in Sochi.
Norway delivered a one-two finish in the Nordic combined large hill. Graabak broke away from a five-man group with about 100 meters left in the cross-country race, finishing six-tenths of a second ahead of Magnus Moan. Fabian Riessle of Germany won the bronze.
Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers in USA-1 lead at the halfway point of the bobsled. Williams, a two-time medalist in track at the Summer Games, and Meyers made two trips down the Sanki Sliding Center track in 1 minute, 54.89 seconds to open a 0.23-second lead over Canada's Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse. USA-2's Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans are in third. American track star Lolo Jones is in 11th with teammate Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3.
Britain reached the semifinals in men's curling by beating Norway 6-5 in a tiebreaker. The British will face Sweden in the semifinals Wednesday while Canada plays China.