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Austria leap to team gold
Austria justify status as favourites as they soar to Olympic ski-jumping gold.
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2010 12:09 GMT

The Austrian team enjoy their moment on the podium [GALLO/GETTY]
The Austrian ski jumping team soared to the Olympic gold medal in the final week of competition at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Gregor Schlierenzauer, Thomas Morgenstern, Andreas Kofler and Wolfgang Loitzl defended their title from the 2006 Turin Games by earning 1,107.9 points to easily beat second-place Germany with Norway taking bronze.

Simon Ammann, the Swiss ski jumper who won gold in both the normal hill and large hill individual jumps, did not compete in the team event because Switzerland did not have four jumpers.

"We know we have the strongest team,'' Loitzl said on Monday.

"So we knew what to do.''

A late surge by Claudia Nystad enabled Germany to win the women's cross country final ahead of Sweden, who had led at every exchange.

The win capped a day on which Germany moved level with the high-flying Americans on seven gold medals apiece in 10 days of Olympic competition.

Germany looked to be on course to win the men's final too when they led at the final changeover but Norway's Petter Northug unleashed a powerful burst to snatch his first gold of the Games after failing to win in three individual events.

"It's like a dream for me to be an Olympic champion,'' said Northug, who had won only a bronze medal in Vancouver before Monday.

"Today was the day.''

Women's hockey

A day after the United States beat Canada in men's hockey - forcing the hosts to play an extra game to reach the quarter-finals - the women's hockey tournament resumed.

The Americans easily beat Sweden 9-1 to reach Thursday's gold-medal game, where they will face Canada, who beat Finland 5-0.

The host nation received more good news later in ice dancing when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the gold medal.

Virtue and Moir dance to a welcome Canadian gold at the Pacific Coliseum [GALLO/GETTY] 
Virtue and Moir, who began skating together as children, brought home Canada's first Olympic gold to lift a host nation struggling to cope with a demoralising ice hockey defeat and diminishing medal hopes.

The gold was Canada's fifth at the Vancouver Games and came on the same day that Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive conceded that the country would not achieve its bold ambition of finishing atop the medals table.

Germany and the United States each have seven gold medals, but the Americans have four more overall with 25. Canada have 10 overall, with half of them gold.

Revenge

Canada did partially avenge their loss in the ice hockey against the US, by eliminating the US men's curling team following a 7-2 victory.

"We felt we owed them one after the hockey last night," Canadian curler John Morris said.

Norway reached the semi-finals of the men's tournament after routing France 9-2 in a shortened eight-end game.

In other matches, Germany held off China 7-6 and Switzerland defeated Sweden 7-3 in nine ends after scoring three in the ninth.

The Canadian women rebounded from their first loss with a surprising 6-2 win over defending gold medallist Sweden.

In Whistler, bobsled officials said they will alter the profile of several tricky curves on the super-fast Olympic track, hoping the changes will make for safer and better racing.

Source:
Agencies
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