Russian-American snowboarder Vic Wild wins gold for Russia as wife Alyona Zavarzina wins bronze. Source: RIA Novosti
Emma Terchenko, special to RBTH
Wednesday, Feb. 19 started out well for Team Russia with medals in snowboard and cross-country skiing, but by the end of the day, Russians were mourning some losses.
Russia’s Alena Zavarzina finished third in parallel giant slalom, beating Austria’s Ina Meschik in two runs for the bronze. Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer won the gold medal. “I just could not leave Sochi without a medal," Zavarzina told Rossiya-2 TV. “Sorry it’s not gold, guys. I have done my best."
Minutes after Zavarzina took the bronze, her American-born husband Vic Wild, who now competes for Russia, won the gold medal in the same discipline. Interviewed by championat.com, he said he was very happy for himself and his wife. “It just seems too good to be true. Alena and myself have both won medals - I couldn't even dream of it! I am extremely happy. I feel incredible. I can’t express it in words. It has been an incredible day. I have given a lot to this sport since I started at the age of seven.”
Wednesday’s Olympic events included the cross-country team sprint. The Russian women’s team of Anastasiya Dotsenko and Julia Ivanova was among those who had qualified for the finals (after finishing third in their qualification run). The Finnish women's team had the best result in the qualification round. In the men’s semifinals, the duo of Nikita Kryukov and Maxim Vylegzhnin also won themselves a place in the finals.
In the end, however, the Russian women’s team finished only sixth. The medals went to Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
The men’s team had better luck, with a second-place finish and a silver medal. Despite this outcome, Kryukov and Vylegzhanin were let down by their result. "The first feeling I had after finishing was disappointment," Kryukov said. "I could have won.”
The Russian figure skaters' performance in the ladies' short program left the fans with mixed feelings. Yulia Lipnitskaya finished only fifth after falling during her performance. She executed a perfect cascade and spin, but then made an error in the triple flip. “I will carry on fighting," Lipnitskaya said in an interview with the Sovetskiy Sport newspaper. “My score is not quite as bad as I feared it would be.”
However, Lipnitskaya’s teammate Adelina Sotnikova was second after the short program, only 0.28 points behind Korea’s Yuna Kim. Italy’s Carolina Kostner is third after the short program. The women's singles program will conclude with the long program on Feb. 20.
In the mixed relay, the Russian team of Olga Zaitseva, Olga Vilukhina, Evgeny Garanichev, and Anton Shipulin failed to win a medal after missing nine shots. Norway took gold, the Czech Republic silver, and Italy bronze.
Zaitseva was still positive about the team in a post-event interview with Gazeta.ru. "We are actually doing fine - it's just that the effects of the change of generations are taking their toll," Zaitseva said. “There’s no need to despair. Let’s not play the blame game. On the contrary, the team deserves some support. And I am grateful to all the fans who have given us so much support during these Games."
The Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova won gold in the women’s 5,000 meters with a time of 6:51.54. Ireen Wust and Carien Kleibeuker, both from the Netherlands, took silver and bronze. Russia’s Olga Graf finished fourth, trailing the leader by 4.23 seconds. Her result, however, was enough to set a new Russian record. “So far, all I can think about is the 0.12 seconds that separate me from the podium,” Sportbox quoted Graf as saying.
The greatest disappointment of the day for Russian fans was their team’s exit from the competition after a 1:3 loss to Finland. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only goal of the game for Team Russia. “Of course, that is not the outcome we were counting on," Pavel Datsyuk told the Metro newspaper. "But we have always known that the Finns are good, that they handle themselves well on the ice, and that they have excellent defense.”
"I don't want to make any conclusions in the heat of the moment,” Russian goaltender Sergey Bobrovski told journalists after the game. “It's not the right time to explain or to judge. I just feel empty now. It's hard."