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Sochi roundup, day 4 - Smyshlyayev, Ahn save the day

Monday, Feb. 10, was not a day of runaway success for Team Russia, but there were bright spots.

Alexander Smyshlyayev won the third place in mogul skiing. Source: Ramil Sitdikov / RIA Novosti

Emma Terchenko, special to RBTH

The Sochi 2014 short track speed skating competition began on Feb. 10. Two Russian athletes – Semyon Elistratov and naturalized South Korean Victor Ahn – made it through the qualifying heats for the men's 1500m event, but only Ahn reached the final and skated away with a bronze medal. Canada's Charles Hamelin and China's Han Tianyu took gold and silver, respectively.

Alexei Kravtsov, the chairman of the Russian Skating Union, was pleased with Ahn's performance. "The tournament has just started, and the Russian team already has a bronze medal in the 1500m event. I have no doubt that more will follow. Ahn has shown that he is in good form,” Kravtsov said.

Olympic champion Hamelin said he was glad to see Ahn taking part in events at this level again: "I am glad Victor Ahn has been back with us for the past two years. I remember in 2006 he was the world's best speed skater and I admired him."

In the women’s 500m heats, only Sofia Prosvirnova qualified for quarterfinals, posting the second-best time after the UK’s Elise Christie. The Russian team also qualified for the women’s 3000m relay final, which will be held on Feb. 18.

In the speed skating men's 500m event, Russia’s best result came in the form of Denis Koval's 13th place, with a total time of 70.44 seconds. All the medals in the event went to Dutch athletes: Michel Mulder winning gold (with a total time of 69.31 seconds), with Jan Smeekens and Ronald Mulder winning silver and bronze, respectively.

Alpine Skiing

In the ladies' super combined slalom event, legendary German skier Maria Hoefl-Riesch won the gold, while Russia's Elena Yakovishina came in 14th place. "Overall, it is a good result for us. We are a young team and this is our first Olympics," Yakovishina said, looking for the positives in the outcome.

Curling

So far, Russia's women's curling team is off to a good start. In the first round-robin session, they confidently beat the Danish team, 7:4. Captain Anna Sidorova, said: "We have won, but there are many more games ahead. We shall be preparing for those." Russia’s men's curling team achieved exactly the opposite result in its first outing, losing to the UK 7:4.

Biathlon

In biathlon, men's 12.5km pursuit did not bring Russia any medals either. The gold went to France's Martin Fourcade; silver, to Ondrej Moravec from the Czech Republic, and bronze, to another Frenchman, Jean Guillaume Beatrix. Anton Shipulin, who after his frustrating fourth place in the 10m sprint was considered to be Russia's main hope in the pursuit event, came in only the 14th, followed by his team mate Evgeny Garanichev in the 15th position.

Russia's best result in the pursuit event was shown by Evgeny Ustyugov, who came in fifth, 36.7 seconds behind the winner. Ustyugov, who started the event in 16th place, made an impressive leap to the fifth and, had it not been for one miss, could well have stood a chance of winning a medal. But fortune has so far been unkind to Russian biathletes. In an interview with the website Sportbox, Ustyugov said: "I did everything I could, I gave it my all, I tried. I deliberately stored some strength for the final lap. At the finish line, I was exhausted." Still, Ustyugov remains optimistic about future events. "If we are in the same shape, we have a really strong chance," the biathlete said.

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