SOCHI, Russia: Irene Wust upset defending champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic to win the women’s 3,000 metre Olympic title on Sunday and hand the Dutch their second speedskating gold of the Sochi Games.
Wust clocked four minutes, 0.34 seconds over the seven-and-a-half laps at the Adler Arena in the 13th of 14 heats to eclipse the previous best mark set by Sablikova by 1.6 seconds.
Olga Graf, skating in the 10th heat and roared on by a passionate home crowd, finished a surprise third with a time of 4:03.47 to give hosts Russia their first medal of the Sochi Games.
Graf punched the air in delight upon realising her time but her expression turned to slight embarrassment shortly after as she unzipped her suit to the waist before suddenly realising and grabbing the zip edges to protect her modesty.
That mark was first beaten by Sablikova, wearing eye catching gold blades, and the slight Czech threw her hands in the air upon crossing the line with a strong finish.
Snowboarder Jenny Jones secured Britain’s first-ever Olympic medal on snow on Sunday when the 33-year-old took bronze in a nerve-shredding slopestyle final.
“It’s ridiculous! That’s me! That’s me! From Bristol!,” a jubilant Jones told reporters when informed of her feat.
American Jamie Anderson took gold with a mighty 95.25 with Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi was second on 92.50 but nobody else was able to dislodge Jones from her podium spot.
The British bronze medal winner’s snowboarding odyssey has taken her from an inauspicious start on a dry slope in Churchill to an Olympic podium finish.
“I started snowboarding when I was about 16, 17, at Churchill Dry Slope. I had my first half-hour lesson with my brothers,” she told a news conference.
“I didn’t learn much but I enjoyed it. I decided to go and work as a chalet maid so that I could snowboard more often.”
In a tense final full of thrills and spills — including a helmet cracked in a heavy crash by Czech Sarka Pancochova — Jones, second on the start list, made a beautifully clean second run to move into the lead with a score of 87.25.
She then faced an agonising wait as she watched the next 10 competitors try to take it away from her.
“It was so difficult waiting. I thought I did my best run and landed it as best as I could,” she said.
All Britain’s previous Winter Olympic medals have come in events such as figure skating, bobsleigh and skeleton. Alain Baxter did win a bronze in the men’s slalom in the 2002 Games but he was stripped of the medal for a doping offence.
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna picked the perfect time to rediscover his fitness and form as he surged to victory in a protest-hit cross-country skiathlon.
Cologna, who earlier this week was still walking with a splint on an injured right ankle, attacked with less than a kilometre left in the 30km race to finish ahead of Swede Marcus Hellner.
Norway’s overall World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby pipped Russian Maxim Vylegzhanin in a scramble on the line for bronze, prompting the Russian team to file a protest against the result, claiming that Sundby has cut across his opponent.
The protest was rejected but the International Ski Federation (FIS) said in a statement that Sundby had been given “a written reprimand for a corridor rules infraction”.
“I was tired by the end of the race and I had fog in my glasses,” the Norwegian told a news conference.
“Maybe I left my line a little bit but I don’t think it changed anything. I’m sorry about that.”
Russia, however, are likely to appeal the decision.
“The Russian Olympic Committee wants to appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” Russian ski federation president Elena Vyalbe said in a statement on the Russian Olympic team website.
Cologna, the 15km freestyle Vancouver Olympics champion, sustained an ankle injury while jogging just before the season started and returned to the World Cup circuit last weekend.