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At Sochi, Russia Leads in Medals

Norway's Marit Bjoergen celebrates after competing in the women's cross-country 30 km mass start free event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor, Russia, Feb. 22, 2014.
Norway's Marit Bjoergen celebrates after competing in the women's cross-country 30 km mass start free event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor, Russia, Feb. 22, 2014.
Mike Richman
Russia won two gold medals and a bronze Saturday at the Sochi Olympics, as the host nation took the lead in total medals heading into the last day of competition.

The United States led, 27-26, before Saturday's events, but Russia now has a 29-27 edge. Russia also is tied with Norway for most gold medals with 11.

In the men's 4-by-7.5-kilometer biathlon relay Saturday, Alexey Volkov, Yevgeny Ustyugov and Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in third for most of the race, before anchor Anton Shipulin beat Germany's Simon Schempp on the final lap.

Russia, now a record seven-time Olympic relay champion, was 3.5 seconds in front of Germany. Austria won bronze.

In the relay, Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen missed out on a chance for a historic ninth Winter Olympics gold medal. The 40-year-old Bjoerndalen set a record at the Sochi Games by winning his 13th medal, but he is tied with Norwegian cross country skier Bjoern Daehlie for the most golds with eight.

A wild win

American-born Vic Wild took the gold — for Russia — in the men's snowboard parallel slalom, the first time the event has been held in the Olympics. Snowboarders from Slovenia and Austria came in second and third, respectively.

Wild, who won gold in parallel giant slalom earlier this week, was elated after his victory.

"It's beyond belief," he said. "When I came to the Olympics I had already won. When I showed up here, I was like 'alright man, I've made it, I can retire from snowboarding, and I'll be satisfied.' So to win the other day was the greatest feeling of my life, one of the greatest moments ever for me, and I just can't believe that I'm here again today."

The women's title in the snowboard parallel slalom went to Austrian Julia Dujmovits, who has battled injuries in her career.

"I had some tough years, ACL twice, I was injured a lot, and I never gave up," Dujmovits said. "I was always fighting for my dream to be an Olympic champion, and today it's true. It is just amazing."

In other competition Saturday, the Dutch added to their unparalleled medal totals in speedskating. They won the men's and women's team pursuit races, giving them a record eight gold medals in Sochi and a record of 23 overall at the 2014 Games.

In the men's slalom, Austria's Mario Matt became the oldest Olympic skiing champion. The 34-year-old Matt finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 41.84 seconds over two runs. His Austrian teammate, Marcel Hirscher, won silver and Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen took bronze. At 19 years old, Kristoffersen became the youngest Olympic medalist in men's alpine skiing.

Norway dominates skiing

The Norwegian women swept the women's 30-kilometer mass start freestyle skiing race. Marit Bjoergen won her sixth career gold medal, tying the record for the most gold medals by a woman at the Winter Olympics. She also tied the record of 10 medals overall.

Norway has dominated the skiing competition in Sochi, posting four medal sweeps in the 10 individual events.

Bjoergen called her win Saturday "incredible."

"This has been a goal for me for a long time," she said. "I thought that 30 kilometers is going to be very hard, but I had been feeling very good the last days, and I think it was possible. It's great to be three Norwegian girls on the podium, it's incredible. Very good skiers, and yes, it's a good day."

In men's ice hockey, 43-year-old Teemu Selanne scored two goals and Tuukka Rask had a 27-save shutout in Finland's 5-0 rout of the United States in the bronze medal game.

American fans left the Bolshoi Ice Dome reeling after their team was shut out for the second straight day. Canada beat the United States, 1-0, in a semifinal game on Friday.

"I am a little bit disappointed," one American fan, Mark Votto, said. "Six periods without a goal was a little heartbreaking, it was tough to watch. They weren't up for it today."

On Sunday, Canada will face Sweden for the gold medal in men's hockey. Canada, which beat the United States in the finals at the 2010 Vancouver Games, is seeking to become the first team since 1988 to win back-to-back gold medals in the sport.

Medals are also at stake Sunday in the four-man bobsleigh and the men's 50-kilometer mass start freestyle skiing race, before closing ceremonies.

In addition to Russia and the U.S., the leaders in the total medal count are Norway with 26, and Canada and the Netherlands with 24 apiece.

In other news Saturday, Olympic officials said Ukrainian cross country skier Marina Lisogor and Latvian ice hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs tested positive for banned substances. The cases came a day after German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian bobsleigh athlete William Frullani tested positive in the first announced doping cases of the Sochi Olympics.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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