The 27-year-old was criticized for withdrawing from the slopestyle
event to avoid risk of injury and the strategy backfired when
Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov was comfortably the better jumper
and twister in the floodlit final.
"I am disappointed," White said after the event. "I hate the fact
that I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It's hard to be
The drama unfolded while the women ski jumpers fought it out for the
first-ever Olympic medals, after campaigning for 13 years to be
included alongside the men.
Germany's Carina Vogt collapsed in tears, then was mobbed by
jubilant teammates, when her narrow win was confirmed following a
tense wait at the bottom of the hill.
That brought to a close the fourth day of thrilling competition at
the February 7-23 Games, with most of the action set among the peaks
of the Caucasus Mountains.
Mild temperatures left many competitors complaining about poor snow
conditions, and the number of tumbles across disciplines ranging
from cross-country to freestyle skiing slopestyle appeared to back
The final training session for Wednesday's women's downhill was
canceled due to the conditions, and ahead of the Nordic Combined
competition on the same day, American Bill Demong said of the snow:
"It's not even slushy, it's just mushy."
Temperatures are expected to rise to at least 15C (59 Fahrenheit)
later this week, potentially posing more problems.
DEAD SKIER REMEMBERED
Darya Domracheva gave her rivals no chance as she powered to victory
in biathlon's 10km pursuit, becoming the first woman to win a Winter
Olympic gold for Belarus.
Germany's Natalie Geisenberger was as dominant in securing victory
in the women's luge, but in a rare display of discord, compatriot
and silver medalist Tatjana Huefner said the winner was favored by
Teenager Dara Howell of Canada won the inaugural women's freestyle
Several skiers crashed out spectacularly, including Howell's
compatriot Yuki Tsubota, who suffered a suspected broken jaw when
falling heavily in the final.
Howell paid tribute to freestyle skiing pioneer Sarah Burke, who
died in a training accident in January 2012. The International
Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier banned athletes from wearing
stickers in her memory.
"She was such an inspiration to me and everyone else in free skiing,
I just think that she would be so proud and happy," said Howell.
"It's truly an honor."
It was Canada's fourth gold of the Games but they trailed in the
overall table after Norway won both the men and women's
Russia lingered in seventh position with a solitary gold, three
silver and three bronze medals.
The hosts are desperate to improve on their woeful performance at
the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver when just three gold medals
left them ranked 11th.
President Vladimir Putin has staked his personal and political
reputation on holding a successful Games, and sporting glory would
go a long way to convincing his countrymen that the project's huge
price tag was worth it.
Back in Sochi, Russian Olga Fatkulina came close to an upset in the
500 meters speed skating, but the overwhelming favorite and world
record holder, South Korea's Lee Sang-hwa, retained her title and
left an army of home supporters in the Adler Arena crestfallen.
[to top of second column]
The Olympic title coveted more than any other in Russia would be the
men's ice hockey.
The Russians, Canadians and Americans were all paraded before the
world's media on Tuesday, whipping up a frenzy of anticipation
before a single puck had been shot.
"I participated in four Olympic Games and I don't remember such an
interest in ice hockey players," former goaltending great Vladislav
Tretyak, now president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, told
Attention was already turning to Saturday's mouth-watering clash
between the United States and Russia.
That game will bring back memories of the "miracle on ice" at Lake
Placid in 1980 when a U.S. team made up of amateur and college
players, stunned the dominant Soviets, who had won five of the
previous six Olympic titles.
PRAYING FOR AN EARTHQUAKE
The Sochi Games have cost an estimated $51 billion, making them the
most expensive Olympics ever, although that figure has been
questioned and would anyway include long term infrastructure
projects in the region.
The buildup to the Games was overshadowed by threats of militant
violence, an international outcry over a contentious "anti-gay
propaganda" law and allegations of widespread corruption and
Once they got underway that hostility quickly evaporated, although a
militant Islamist group has urged followers to pray for an
earthquake in Sochi during the Olympics to avenge Muslims who died
there fighting "Russian infidels".
"We know how the Russian infidels — those who we have been fighting
for centuries in the Caucasus — have become arrogant and decided to
hold the Satanic Games on the ground of the companions who brought
Islam," said an appeal from a local branch of the militant group
"May Allah give the infidels in Sochi the last earthquake of their
lives," it said.
On a more positive note, the International Olympic Committee lifted
a ban on the Indian Olympic Association, which was suspended when a
corruption-tainted official was voted in as secretary general in
It means that the three Indian athletes in Sochi who marched under
the Olympic banner in the opening ceremony will carry their own flag
at the closing event.
(Additional reporting by the Reuters Winter Olympic team, editing by
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