Despite clear skies and mild temperatures, complaints about
slushy snow conditions in the Caucasus mountains melted away, while
on the Black Sea coast excitement grew with the first puck set to be
dropped in the men's ice hockey competition.
History was made when Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze of
Slovenia shared the women's Olympic Alpine skiing downhill gold
medal after clocking exactly the same time down the sun-bathed Rosa
Gisin, lost in amazement at the bottom of the piste, called it
"I attacked hard from top to bottom," added the 28-year-old, who has
had her share of injuries over the years.
Alpine skiers have shared medals before at the Olympics, but never
It was the second time in two days that women athletes made history
at the Olympics.
On Tuesday night, women ski jumpers finally had the chance to prove
their mettle in one of the ultimate sporting tests of power,
technique and daring, 90 years after the first men competed at a
For years they were told the sport was too risky, that there were
too few top-class women competitors, or even that the impact of
landing could damage their fertility.
But ending a long battle for inclusion, all the frustration was
consigned to the past at the hill at RusSki Gorki in the mountains
The events, added to the shock failure of U.S. snowboard king Shaun
White to win a medal in the halfpipe on Tuesday, have grabbed the
attention of the watching world and pushed a troubled buildup to the
Sochi Games further into the background.
RUSSIANS SKATE FOR GOLD
Going into Russia's first Winter Games, the biggest worry was the
threat of attack by Islamist militants based in the north Caucasus
hundreds of kilometers to the east.
On Tuesday, a militant group urged followers to pray for an
earthquake in Sochi during the Olympics to avenge Muslims who died
there fighting "Russian infidels", but as yet there has been no
violence directly linked to the Games.
President Vladimir Putin, whose reputation rides on a safe and
successful Games, was also criticized after Russia introduced a law
last year banning the promotion of gay propaganda among minors.
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There have been no major protests in Sochi over legislation which
critics say encourages violence against gays.
The cost of staging the Games, estimated at $51 billion, although
that figure is disputed, and allegations of widespread corruption
have also slipped from the headlines for now.
The more the action and excitement take hold, the happier Putin, and
Russia, will be.
Six medal events will be decided on Wednesday.
Russia has high hopes of gold in pairs figure skating, with world
and European champions Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar tipped
for the title.
Russia linger in seventh place in the medals table, with Norway
ahead of Canada at the top.
American speedskater Shani Davis will be bidding for his third
straight gold in the 1,000 meters and aiming to put a dent in the
Dutch domination on the ice.
Australian Torah Bright defends her snowboarding halfpipe title
against rivals who include America's Kelly Clark — the 2002 winner
is appearing at her fourth Games.
In the luge doubles, Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger
seek their third successive Winter Games gold.
The International Olympic Committee and International Luge
Federation will remember Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili,
whose death from injuries in a training crash four years ago to the
day at the Vancouver Games stunned the sporting world.
"We are laying flowers at the luge center in Whistler," IOC
spokesman Mark Adams said in Sochi. "It is an ongoing thing. We will
also continue to work with the family (of the athlete) for a lasting
The puck drops for the start of action in the eagerly anticipated
men's ice hockey tournament, in which Czech Republic play Sweden and
Latvia meet Switzerland in the opening group games.
(Additional reporting by the Reuters Winter Olympics team;
by Peter Rutherford)
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