Feb. 11 (UPI) — Norway led all countries in total medal count in the 2018 Winter Olympics with eight after dominating the men’s cross-country skiathalon Sunday.
Norway swept the podium in the men’s 30km skiathlon with Hans Christer Holund claiming bronze, Martin Johnsrud Sundby winning silver and 24-year-old Simen Hegstad Kruger taking the gold medal despite a crash at the start of the race.
Kruger collided with Russian athletes Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov shortly after the race got underway leaving him last out of 68 competitors and forcing him to replace his poles.
“I was completely last in the group so I had to start the race again and switch focus to catch up with the guys,” Kruger said. “When I did it, I was [saying to myself], ‘OK, take one lap, two laps, three laps and just get into it again.’”
He eventually stormed back to take the lead with 5 kilometers remaining in the race and finished with a time of 1:16:20.
“It is an indescribable feeling,” Kruger said. “It is an amazing day, but it started in the worst way with the fall after the first 100 meters and a broken pole. I was thinking this is over.”
The United States failed to medal in women’s moguls for the first time since 2006 as 19-year-old Perrine Laffont of France won the gold.
Laffont brought France its first medal by edging out the reigning champion, Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe, by .09 points with a score of 78.65. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan earned a bronze medal with a score of 77.4.
Heavy snow was a factor during the second round of the final, limiting visibility and affecting the racers as they landed their jumps. American Jaelin Kauf was closest to the medal stand with a time of 28.79 on her first run, but her final score of 76.03 left her in seventh place.
Sven Kramer of the Netherlands became the first man to win three gold medals in the same speed skating event at the Olympic Winter Games.
The 31-year-old Kramer claimed the gold with an Olympic record time of 6:09.76 in the Men’s 5,000m, beating Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen by two seconds.
“I’ve won a lot and lost a lot, but this is really special for me,” Kramer said. “Breaking the Olympic record is amazing. I keep on progressing every four years, and that’s nice to see.”
Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen claimed a bronze medal for his country, finishing two thousandths of a second behind Bloemen.
Red Gerard won the first gold medal — and first medal overall — for Team USA in the men’s slopestyle final on Sunday.
The 17-year-old Gerard was the only American to qualify for the final event and bested Canadian favorites Max Parrot and Mark McMorris with a final score of 87.16.
Gerard was in last place prior to the final run but shot his way to the gold using a series of angled jumps and spins, while landing three clean jumps and cleanly landing a a backside triple cork 1440 on his final leap for his finale.
Women’s ice hockey
The U.S. women’s hockey team defeated Finland 3-1 in their first round of play Sunday.
Finland took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period with a goal by Venla Hovi but the United States responded with goals from Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Kendall Coyne in the second period.
U.S. goalie Maddy Rooney held Finland scoreless for the final two periods as Dani Cameranesi secured the United States’ victory with an empty-netter in the third period.
Chris Mazdzer won the first luge men’s singles medal for an American in Winter Olympic Games history by claiming the silver Sunday.
The 29-year-old finished 0.026 behind Austria’s David Gleirscher who posted a winning time of 3:10.702 and placed in front of bronze-medalist Johannes Ludwig of Germany.
“It’s 16 years in the making,” Mazdzer said. “I’ve had a rough last two years, and it just shows: Don’t ever give up. Whenever you lose, keep fighting.”
Chris @Mazdzer makes history with the first men’s singles luge medal for @TeamUSA, bringing home the #Silver! pic.twitter.com/jnd9VyDcyf- NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 11, 2018
After Sunday’s day of competition, Norway leads the overall Winter Games medal count with eight — one gold, four silver and three bronze.
The Netherlands has five medals (two gold, two silver and one bronze); Germany has four (three gold and one bronze); Canada has four (three silver and one bronze); the United States has two (one gold and one silver); and the Czech Republic has two (one silver and one bronze).
Countries with one medal include: South Korea (gold), Sweden (gold), France (gold), Austria (gold), Olympic Athletes from Russia (bronze), Finland (bronze), Italy (bronze) and Kazakhstan (bronze).