News / Europe

China Skaters Golden on the Track

From left, Li Jianrou of China, Elise Christie of Britain, Arianna Fontana of Italy and Park Seung-hi of South Korea start in a women's 500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 13, 2014.
From left, Li Jianrou of China, Elise Christie of Britain, Arianna Fontana of Italy and Park Seung-hi of South Korea start in a women's 500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 13, 2014.
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VOA News
China took its spot on the medals board at the Sochi Olympics Thursday by winning two gold medals in speedskating.

Short track speedskater Li Jianrou won the women's 500-meter race, beating Italy’s Ariana Fontana and South Korea's Park Sueng-Hi.  In the women’s 1,000-meter speedskating event, China’s Zhang Hong beat two Dutch skaters for the top spot.

In skiing, American freestylers dominated the first-ever Olympic slopestyle competition, sweeping the top three spots.  Joss Christensen won the gold medal, with Gus Kenworthy taking silver and Nicholas Goepper earning bronze.

Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk won gold in the women's 10-kilometer cross country skiing race, and sharp-shooting French biathlete Martin Fourcade won the 20-kilometer individual gold.

In the final medals event of the day, Germany remained dominant on the luge track in the new team relay competition, which involves one women's, one men's and one doubles run in succession.

Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the pairing of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished first in the relay, giving the Germans gold medals in all four of the luge events so far in Sochi.

The win lifted Germany into the gold medal lead with seven. 

On the ice, the top men's hockey teams -- Russia, the United States and Canada -- played for the first time in these Games Thursday.  Russia beat Slovenia, 5-2, and the U.S. routed Slovakia, 7-1.  Canada is playing Norway.    

Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Sochi

  • United States' Sophie Caldwell skis with a sleeveless top as temperatures went well over the freezing point during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • In this image made with a multiple exposure, Finland's Antti Ollila competes in the men's ski slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Fan Kexin of China, Elise Christie of Britain, Jessica Hewitt of Canada and Emily Scott of the United States compete in a women's 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Sebastien Lepape of France crashes out in a men's 1000m short track speedskating heat at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Canadian fans cheer during the men's ski slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Kanae Aoki of Japan races after the goal shot by Franziska Busch of Germany during the closing seconds of the women's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • A spectator wears the Olympic rings made from bagels during the men's ski slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Canada's Jill Officer, left, and Dawn McEwen, right, sweep the ice during the women's curling competition against Denmark at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.
  • Norway's Marit Bjoergen catches her breath after the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014.

In other news, Russian figure skater Evgeny Plushenko pulled out of the men's individual figure skating competition Thursday.  Plushenko, a two-time gold medalist, was seen clutching his back during warmups, before he announced his withdrawal from the event.

He later said he is retiring from figure skating.

Meanwhile, the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said he is not worried about the unseasonably warm temperatures that have been melting snow and ice in and around Sochi.

Temperatures in Sochi have been hitting 17°C for the past four days.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Bach recalled even warmer conditions at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

"It's not as warm yet as it was in Calgary at the time, where I remembered going around the last days of the Games in a T-shirt.  It was about 25 degrees Celsius, so the situation so far is under control.  The organizing committee together with the international federations is working very, very hard.  There is still storage of snow and so far it is going well," he said.

Bach said the accident of an Olympic track worker struck by a bobsled was not related to other accidents caused by sloppy conditions created by the warm weather.

The worker was on the track when he was hit by a forerunning sled, just before the start of Thursday's two-man bobsled training.

Olympic officials said he broke both legs and may have a concussion.

"That is different. It's a worker being in the braking zone of the bob and we do not know why he was there in this zone. This you cannot compare with any incident with an athlete," said Bach.

After six days of competition in Sochi, Norway leads in the overall medal count with 13, followed by the United States and the Netherlands with 12.  Russia has 11, and Canada and Germany have 10 each.

There are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver in 2010.

Click here to see VOA's Winter Olympics site

WATCH: Related video clip - U.S. Women's Halfpipe Medalists

Olympics: US Women Halfpipe Medalistsi
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February 13, 2014
Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States was the surprise Sochi Olympics gold medalist in the women's halfpipe snowboarding event Wednesday night under floodlights at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Competing in her first Olympics, she finished above the three most recent Olympic gold medalists, who placed second, third and fourth. Austrian Torah Bright, the defending champion from Vancouver, earned the silver medal and American Kelly Clark, the 2002 Salt Lake City champion, won the bronze. American Hannah Teter, the 2006 Turin Olympics gold medalist, had to settle for fourth place. Farrington and Clark spoke to the media at a news conference Thursday at the Main Press Center in Sochi.


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