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Netherlands, Canada, Norway Lead Medal Count in Sochi

Gold medalist Michel Mulder from the Netherlands jumps in celebration, flanked by Silver medalist Jan Smeekens, right, and bronze medalist Ronald Mulder during the flower ceremony for the men's 500-meter speed skating race at the Adler Arena Skating Cente
Gold medalist Michel Mulder from the Netherlands jumps in celebration, flanked by Silver medalist Jan Smeekens, right, and bronze medalist Ronald Mulder during the flower ceremony for the men's 500-meter speed skating race at the Adler Arena Skating Cente
Mike Richman
The Netherlands swept the men's 500-meter speed skating competition at the Winter Olympics Monday, tying for the lead in the medal count after three days of competition in Sochi.

Michel Mulder won the gold medal in the event, followed by Dutch teammates Jan Smeekens and Ronald Mulder, Michel's twin brother.

The Netherlands, Canada and Norway are now tied for the most medals with seven.  Canada and the Netherlands lead in gold medals with three each.

Canada was sparked by Charles Hamelin, who finished first in the 1,500-meter short track speed skating.  It was his third career Olympic gold medal.

In women's Alpine skiing, Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch also won her third career Olympic gold.  She took first in the super-combined, one downhill and one slalom run.

Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen just missed winning a record 13th career Winter Olympic medal.  He finished fourth in the men's biathlon 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
 
France's Martin Fourcade won that event.

Bjoerndalen will have other chances in Sochi to break the record for most Winter Olympic medals.

  • Charles Hamelin of Canada, right, embraces Marianne St. Gelais after he won the men's 1500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Sochi, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Yuji Kamijo of Japan practices his start for the men's 500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center, Sochi, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Alexandros Kefalas of Greece speeds down the track during a training session for men's skeleton, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch leaves the finish area after competing in the downhill portion of the women's supercombined, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Shi Jingnan of China crashes in a men's 1500m short track speedskating heat at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, back left, and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, back right, cheer as they watch the men's 1500m short track speedskating heats at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Sochi, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Wilhelm Denifl of Austria carries his skis during a men's nordic combined training session in the ski jumping stadium, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • A spectator wears a fuzzy hat as he watches athletes compete in the downhill portion of the women's supercombined, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, left, and Park Se-Yeong of South Korea crash out as they compete in a men's 1500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Sochi, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Chile's Dominique Ohaco takes a jump during freestyle training in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 10, 2014.
  • Fans wave flags for United States skier Julia Mancuso during the downhill portion of the women's supercombined, Krasnaya Polyana, Feb. 10, 2014.

US, Canada to Face Off on Ice

In women's ice hockey, the U.S. routed Switzerland, 9-0, setting an Olympic record with three goals in a 55-second span.  Canada beat Finland, 3-0.

The U.S. and Canada - fierce rivals and the consensus favorites to win the gold medal in Sochi - will clash on Wednesday.

Canada has won three of the four gold medals since women's ice hockey became a Winter Olympics sport at the 1998 Nagano Games, beating the Americans in the finals in 2002 and 2010.  The U.S. won the gold in Nagano.

U.S. defender Megan Bozek said Wednesday's game is going to be a "battle."

"We're going to give it our all," Bozek said.  "We're both here for the same reason.  All eight teams are here for the same reason: to win a gold medal.  So we're going to do whatever it takes to get that win."

Curling began for the men and women Monday.  Canada's men's team, the favorite to repeat as Olympic gold medal champion, was upset by Switzerland, 5-4.  The Canadians beat Germany, 11-8, earlier in the day.

Togo in Sochi

In other news, Olympic officials from Togo discussed their country's first-ever appearance at a Winter Olympic Games.  The West African nation is represented by a cross country skier and an Alpine skier.

The vice president of Togo's Olympic Committee, Kelani Bayor, said his country is in Sochi to win.

"We came here to get some medals, that's a reality, it doesn't matter what medal it is," Bayor said.  "We came here to dazzle the world to show what Togo is all about.  We might not have everything, but we are competing.  We want to compete here in Sochi as equals to the other athletes.  We did not come here expecting to lose."

Tuesday's action includes the debut of women's ski jumping in the Winter Games, with the gold medal final scheduled for late in the day.  There are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver in 2010.re are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver in 2010.

Click here to see VOA's Winter Olympics site

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