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Rediff.com  » Sports » Winter Olympics: Canada breathes sigh of relief amid Dutch fury

Winter Olympics: Canada breathes sigh of relief amid Dutch fury

Last updated on: February 24, 2010 11:51 IST

Winter Olympics: Canada breathes sigh of relief amid Dutch fury

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A gold medal for Ashleigh McIvor in the women's ski cross and a thumping victory by the men's ice hockey team brought a huge sigh of relief from hosts Canada at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday.

Canada collected their sixth gold of the Games through McIvor, the popular hometown favourite in the women's ski cross, after one of her main rivals, Ophelie David of France, crashed out in an earlier round.


Image: McIvor races en route to taking the gold medal in the women's ski cross finals
Photographs: Reuters
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Errors costs Kramer Olympic gold

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It was a day to savour for Canada but not one Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer will remember fondly after a crass error by his coach robbed him of the 10,000 metres speedskating gold medal in one of the most dramatic moments of the Games.

The world record-holder and white-hot favourite celebrated victory but within seconds of crossing the line he threw his glasses down in fury and kicked the track in frustration after being told he had been disqualified for crossing into the wrong lane.

Kramer, who cruised to the 5,000m gold earlier in the Games, sat despondently on a bench, his head down and elbows on his knees after the error came to light.

"I am furious," Kramer told reporters about the gaffe, when an apparent miscommunication with his coach caused him to skate into the wrong lane.

"It's a matter of concentration. Not a concentration failure on my side," he said.

"It was the best 10,000m I have ever skated. I am mad with the coach and I will have a conversation with him."


Image: Kramer of the Netherlands drinks from a bottle after the men's 10000 metres speed skating race

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Dreams come true for McIvor

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McIvor, the popular hometown favourite in the women's ski cross, won gold after one of her main rivals, Ophelie David of France, crashed out in an earlier round.

"I am beginning to think that everything that has happened in my life has happened for a reason and I was just meant to be here at this point and racing on this course," the 26-year-old McIvor said after winning her gold medal on Tuesday.

While there were some nasty spills and crashes on Tuesday's course, McIvor made it look easy in all the qualifying heats and won by a sizable margin in the final one.

Even so, she maintains ski cross is dangerous. She has had to learn to pop her own shoulder back into place when it becomes dislocated.

While ski cross may be the newest form of Olympic ski racing, McIvor reminded reporters it has been "around forever, you know racing your friends from the top of the mountain to the bottom."


Image: Ashleigh McIvor

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Another day at the office for the Iceman

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As snow and rain swept the Olympic venues, Carlo Janka became the first Swiss man to win the Olympic giant slalom gold since 1984 but their neighbours Austria, who had dominated the discipline at the last three Olympics, missed out on the podium altogether.

Norway's Kjetil Jansrud took silver and compatriot Aksel Lund Svindal bagged his third medal of the Games by finishing third. American Bode Miller's hopes of a fourth medal in four races ended in disappointment when he skied out in the first run.

"I was a bit nervous before that second run," Janka confessed.

"There was a lot of pressure because that was my last chance to get a medal at these Olympics.

"Taking enough risks and not making any mistakes, that was the key.

"My goal at these Olympics was to get a medal, I've got a gold. This was just the perfect day for me," he added.


Image: Carlo Janka becomes the first Swiss man to win the Olympic giant slalom gold since 1984

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Some Consolation

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Gold was also decided in the Nordic combined team 4x5 kilometre relay with Austria retaining the title to provide some consolation for their flop in the Alpine disciplines.

Russia had taken the first of the day's five golds in the women's 4x6km biathlon relay, overcoming the German favourites who competed without exhausted double gold medal winner Magdalena Neuner. Germany settled for bronze behind France.

McIvor's win put Canada into a respectable fourth place in the medals table although their failure to win more has already prompted calls for an investigation.

The U.S. head the standings with seven golds and 26 medals overall. Germany also have seven golds and 23 medals in total.

Canada, Norway and Switzerland all have six golds ahead of South Korea on five and Austria with four.

The medals in men's ice hockey will not be decided until Sunday but Canada at least stayed in the hunt with a confidence-boosting 8-2 win over Germany.

The Canadians had been relegated to the sudden-death qualifiers after losing to the U.S. in the final round of preliminary matches but brushed past Germany to set up a quarter-final showdown with Russia.

Switzerland beat Belarus 3-2 in a shootout to advance to the quarter-finals against the U.S.

Roared on by another capacity crowd at the Canada Hockey Place, the Canadians led 1-0 at the end of the first period and piled on three goals in the second and another four in the third.


Image: Canadian fans cheer for their team

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