Norway celebrates 100th gold medal, Vonn leads

  on

Norway claimed their 100th gold medal in Winter Olympics when Tora Berger won the women's 15 kilometer individual biathlon on Thursday but Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn again threatened to grab the limelight later.

Norway became the first nation to reach the magical milestone in winter sports when the 28-year-old Berger surged clear of her rivals to win the lung-bursting event, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.

Berger's success provided Norway with their second gold medal in Vancouver after Marit Bjoergen won the women's cross-country sprint classic on Wednesday, lifting the Scandinavian powerhouse to sixth place on the medals table at the start of the sixth full day of competition.

The United States led the standings with five golds after scooping up three on Wednesday and were on track to add to their tally on Thursday when Vonn returned to the Whistler mountains in pursuit of her second victory in 24 hours.

Berger completed the course in 40 minutes 52.8 seconds, more than 20 seconds clear of Kazakhstan's Elena Khrustaleva, who took the silver medal, and Darya Domracheva of Belarus, who had to settle for the bronze.

TREACHEROUS COURSE

The 25-year-old Vonn defied a painful shin injury to win the women's downhill with a superb run down a treacherous course on Wednesday but has her sights on an unprecedented five golds.

The odds were stacked against her sweeping the lot but she was among the favorites to win Thursday's super combined, which comprises both a downhill and slalom.

The pressure is off me now, she told reporters. I got the gold medal that I came here to get. Anything else is a bonus.

Vonn made a perfect start to her bid for a second gold when she set the fastest time after the downhill leg, but faces a tough challenge holding out Germany's Maria Riesch, the reigning slalom world champion, who was second heading into the more technically-demanding slalom.

Vonn's American teammate Julia Mancuso, silver medalist in the downhill, was third while Swede Anja Paerson, who survived a high-speed crash the previous day, was seventh.

The downhill course was shortened by 95 meters for the super combined and the final jump which brought Paerson to grief, was shaved to stop competitors flying out of control.

The women's combined was the first of six gold medals on offer in five sports on Thursday. There was also a second gold in biathlon for men as well as one each in speedskating, snowboarding and figure skating, one of the glamour events of the Olympics.

Russia's Yevgeny Plushenko was bidding to become the first man in more than half a century to successfully defend the men's figure skating title after he won in Turin in four years ago.

He held a narrow lead over American Evan Lysacek and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi after Tuesday's short program and has vowed to risk all by attempting to nail a quadruple jump in Thursday's free program.

Without the quad it's not men's figure skating, he said.

Join the Discussion