Fri, February 20, 2009

Russia, Switzerland dominate skiing events at Harbin Universiade

2009-02-20 12:35:28 GMT2009-02-20 20:35:28 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

HARBIN, Northeast China, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Russia dominated the cross-country skiing events, Switzerland took both downhill titles, while Austria, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands all made it to the gold medal tally on Friday at the Harbin Winter Universiade.

In both men's and women's freestyle cross country skiing, the first finals on snow at the Universiade, Aleksey Tchernousov crossed the line first in the men's 10 kilometers race in 27 minutes and 10.1 seconds.

Tchernousov led a Russian sweep of top four places, with Sergey Turychev in second at 27:19.3, Konstantin Glavatskikh thrid at 27:46.6 and Ilya Mashkov fourth at 27:50.9

Later, their women peers rewrote the feat as Valentina Novikova led her teammates for a clean sweep of top five places in the five kilometers finals.

Novikova clocked a winning time of 15 minutes and seven seconds. Yulia Tchekaleva took home the silver at 15:17.7 and Anna Slepova third at 15:18.4.

The downhill events became a Swiss show as they overcame the chilly wind to win both the men's and women's individual events in Yabuli, some 200km away from Harbin.

Lowly-ranked Tamara Wolf started first to lock victory in the women's downhill in 1:39.35 for her first triumph after staying away for three years over injury.

Her teammate Mirena Kueng finished 1.15 seconds behind to take the second, beating Japanese Kato Chika to third, who was the top ranked skier at the Universiade in FIS points.

In men's downhill, Sandro Boner awarded Switzerland the second downhill gold medal minutes later, edging Michael Sablatnik of Austria to second by a slim 0.09 seconds. Another Swiss Christoph Boner got the bronze.

Also in Yabuli, German Steffen Tepel edged Japanese Chota Hatakeyama to win the Nordic combined individual event despite a fifth place in the opening ski jumping.

Starting the 10-kilometer cross country 68 seconds behind winner Petr Kutal of the Czech Republic, Tepel beat Hatakeyama by 16.6 seconds after a strong ski performance.

Hatakeyama, the fourth finisher in the ski jump competition, took home the silver medal ahead of Austrian Benjamin Kreiner, who was 1:51.4 behind Tepel.

France and Austria split the men's and women's freestyle ski cross skiing golds as Antoine Galland of France crowned in the men's final and Katrin Ofner of Austria took the women's title.

Galland beat Andreas Tischedorf of Germany and Swiss Manuel Eicher to the second and third respectively, while Ofner held off Carlotta Nicoletta of France for the top honor, with Russian Yulia Livinskaya in third.

From the short track rink, the hosts enjoyed another moment of joy as their four women skaters booked all the tickets in the final before Liu Qiuhong won the gold.

Liu, ranked second in the world, took the lead all along, clocking the fastest time of 44.862 seconds.

Li Wenwen, national silver medalist in 2008, followed Liu for the silver, Meng Xiaoxue, reigning champion in women's 3,000m relay, grabbed the bronze, and Zhou Yang, who won the first gold for China on Thursday, fell on the ice to lose the podium place.

In the men's 500m, Jang Won Hoon of South Korea beat Chinese Gao Ming for the top honor, and Ito Junji of Japan took the bronze.

From the speed skating, both the Netherlands and Japan also pocketed their first medal of golden tint at the Universiade.

In the absence of their senior athletes, the Netherlands had a 1-2 finish in the men's 5,000 meters final.

Arjen van der Kieft finished the 12 and a half laps race on the 400-meter oval in six minutes and 29.95 seconds to claim the gold medal, improving the Universiade record of the discipline by 2.76 seconds.

Renz Rotteveel was the second with a time of 6:33.05, and Russian Artem Belousov took the bronze in 6:37.43.

Nao Kodaira claimed a surprising victory by winning the women's 1,500 meters, making Japan the third country after South Korea and China to take an ice gold at the Universiade.

The 22-year-old who never competed in the women's 1,500 meters race at any official tournament of the International Skating Union (ISU), clocked a record setting time of one minute and 59.03 seconds for the gold.

Dong Feifei of China took the silver in 1:59.27 and compatriot Ji Jia had the bronze medal in 2:01.28.

After the first two day finals, South Korea led the medal tally on a 4-1-2 record, China remained in second by 2-6-4, followed by Russia (2-2-4), Switzerland (2-1-2), Japan (1-1-2).

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