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13 April 2024

Austria takes Olympic super-G gold

Austria's Andrea Fischbacher after winning gold on Saturday. (AFP)


Austria's Andrea Fischbacher upset American speed queen Lindsay Vonn to win the women's Olympic super-G final on Saturday as Korea's Lee Jung-Su and Swiss Simon Ammann grabbed their second golds of the Vancouver Games.

After capturing the downhill title, Vonn crashed out in the super-combined and wanted to bounce back in the super-G but Fischbacher basked in the glory, relieving pressure on Austria's under-fire team by winning their first ski gold of the Games.

Slovenia's Tina Maze was a surprise silver medallist with Vonn relegated to third.

Fischbacher's medal comes in the wake of huge criticism of Austria's ski "Wunderteam" which has failed to shine after dominating at Turin four years ago.

"In the speed disciplines we didn't have great results. We've not been leading by example, but we've shown that if everything goes okay you can be the best," said Fischbacher. "I didn't believe it when I saw my name on top of the leaderboard. It's just a dream come true."

Vonn, touted before the Games as a favourite to win three gold, insisted that a second medal was more than she bargained for.

"Any medal at the Olympics is already a success, and you have to be really proud of it," she said.

The action got underway as luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was buried in the Georgian ski resort of Bakuriani with unanswered questions about his death hanging heavy over the ceremony. Grief over the 21-year-old's tragic end during a training accident on the eve of the opening ceremony mingled with anger over claims that Kumaritashvili, and not the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre, was to blame for the accident.

"What can I say? Our family is devastated. But what I do know is that this was not caused by a mistake by Nodar," his father David said.

Ski-jumper Ammann conquered his nerves to claim the large hill title, following on from the normal hill one he bagged a week ago to become the only ski jumper in history to win four individual golds.

He previously pulled off the double at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. "I'm speechless. It was a nerve-wracking experience," said the Swiss, who recorded jumps of 144m and 138m to beat off Poland's Adam Malysz and Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer.

Korea's Lee matched him in the Vancouver medal stakes by winning the men's 1,000m short-track gold, following his triumph in the 1,500m.

Lee was followed home by fellow South Korean Lee Ho-Suk. Apolo Anton Ohno took bronze to become the most medalled American Winter Olympian ever, with seven in total. "I'm very pleased with two gold medals and I'm hoping for a third," said Lee, who will also compete in the relay.

American Shani Davis's dream of a golden double was ruined by Mark Tuitert in the men's 1,500 speedskating, with the Dutchman spoiling the bid with a time of 1 minute 45.57seconds.

Davis had to settle for silver, with Norway's Havard Bokko third.

It was a memorable night at the Richmond Oval for Korea with Lee Eun-Byul and Park Seung-Hi winning silver and bronze respectively in the women's 1,500m short-track final.

But the gold belonged to China's Zhou Yang, who made the most of teammate and favourite Wang Meng being disqualified in the semi-finals.

Sweden's Marcus Hellner took the gruelling men's cross-country pursuit crown.

Meanwhile, superstar South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na took to the ice for the first time after being mobbed by 300 reporters on her arrival.

The world champion pin-up has dominated the season and is hot favourite to become her country's first Olympic figure skating champion, with the short programme starting on Tuesday. "It's my first Olympics. I've been dreaming about this since I was a child. Whether I get gold or whatever, it's not about the medal," she said, attempting to play down expectations.


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