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Olympic weekend: Wins, losses and medals from space

Over the weekend, Team Russia added two more gold medals to its count: Viktor Ahn triumphed in the men's 1000m race in short track and Alexander Tretyakov took first place in skeleton. Russia’s men's ice hockey team, however, has been keeping its fans in a constant state of anxiety. The team lost to the United States in a dramatic shootout. The red machine stayed in contention thanks to a victory over Slovakia, but must defeat Norway to move on.

Viktor Ahn (right), Vladimir Grigorev (left) won two medals in short track. Source: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

Viktoria Kolesnichenko, special to RBTH 

"Space medals"

The medals handed out to victorious skiers and speed skaters on Saturday were even more unusual than those issued on the other days of competition: fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite were embedded in the medals.

The special medals were handed out on Feb. 15 because this marked the one-year anniversary of the event. Fragments of the asteroid were added to 50 Olympic medals, but only 10 of these will be awarded to athletes. The rest will first go to a museum and possibly later on to private collections.

Short track

On Feb. 15, Russia won the gold and silver in the men's 1000m final. Russia owes its first ever Olympic gold medal in short track to naturalized South Korean Viktor Ahn, who has already become a legend at these Games. His winning time was 1:25.33. The silver went to another Russia athlete, Vladimir Grigorev and the bronze, to Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands. The third member of Russia’s short track team in the final, Semyon Elistratov, finished the race sixth.

This victory gave Viktor Ahn his fourth Olympic gold medal, although he says this one is special: "It has been eight years since I won my first Olympic gold. I was very nervous today. I felt such a storm of emotions inside that it was difficult to cope with them all. I still cannot believe it that I have won. I shall be frank, I was extremely impressed by the support from the fans in the stadium today. The way they cheered – it was unbelievable!"

Skeleton

Russia's second gold medal on Saturday came from Alexander Tretyakov, in skeleton. The silver went to Latvia's Martins Dukurs and the bronze, to Matthew Antoine from the United States. The other Russian team members, Sergei Chudinov and Nikita Tregybov, made it to the top 10, coming in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Ice hockey

The weekend was not an easy one for the Russian men's ice hockey squad. In its Saturday game against the United States, the Russians lost 3:2 in a nerve-racking shootout.

The regular time ended with a draw 2:2. Both Russian goals were scored by team captain Pavel Datsyuk. In the third period, Russian defender Fedor Tyutin hit American goalie Jonathan Quick's net again, however the goal was wiped off since the post on the net had been moved a few seconds before the shot. Additional play in overtime did not change the score, and the game was decided in a shootout. The victory was clinched by U.S. forward T.J. Oshie, who scored four shots into Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky's net. 

In his comments after the game, Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov remained calm and confident: "We have learned lessons from the previous game and have corrected many things. Our actions were more confident and more reliable. Overall, I liked the game. So far, of course, we are not making the most of power play. Which is especially a shame when we have such pros on the team, but we shall keep working. If we work more, results will come."

On Sunday, Russia had another important round-robin game against Slovakia. The Russian team seemed sluggish and both the regular time and overtime finished with a score of 0:0. In the Russian squad, only the performance of goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov stood out. In the shootout, Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored, bringing victory to Russia. The team must defeat Norway on Tuesday to make it to the quarterfinals.  

Ski Cross

During practice on the ski cross course on Feb. 15, Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova sustained a serious injury – a fractured vertebrae with a dislocation. She underwent an emergency six-and-a-half hour operation at a hospital in Sochi. The Olympic Committee press service later announced that Komissarova was transferred to a clinic in Munich where she will undergo further treatment. She is expected to have another surgery in approximately two weeks. 

Cross-country skiing

Russia's only medal on Sunday was won in the men's relay 4x10 km race. The quartet of Alexander Bessmertnykh, Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Legkov, and Maxim Vylegzhanin came in second, with the gold medal going to Sweden and the bronze, to France.

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