Svendsen denies Fourcade gold

Fog, rain hamper competitions

Snowboarders and skiers raced through fog and rain at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday as organisers fought to clear a backlog of events in the mountains, while on the Black Sea coast, hosts Russia meet Norway in a do-or-die men's ice hockey clash.

In the first medal to be decided on a wet, misty day, the men's snowboard cross athletes soared over jumps, muscled rivals aside for the inside line and crashed out spectacularly in a thrilling contest narrowly won by Pierre Vaultier of France. He edged out Russian Nikolay Olyunin in the final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, but not before there had been a delay following an injury to Italian athlete Omar Visintin, who was carried off on a stretcher.

The crash was a reminder of the dangers of competing on the edge, and of how organisers are trying to strike a balance between keeping the Games on track and making them safe.

In the eagerly awaited men’s biathlon mass start event, Frenchman Martin Fourcade was denied a golden Sochi hat-trick as Norway’s  Emil Hegle Svendsen claimed his third Olympic title in a photo finish. 

In a race twice postponed since Sunday because of fog, Svendsen and the Frenchman reached the final straight together but the Norwegian sealed victory when he pulled away in the sprint for the line.

Fourcade had earlier claimed the gold in both the men’s pursuit and the men’s individual. The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that future bidders may have to abide by a specific anti-discrimination rule modelled on the Olympic Charter's Principle 6 if they are to be awarded the Games. Principle 6 says sport does not discriminate on any grounds, including race, religion, politics or gender.

There has been little sign of dissent against legislation introduced last year, although in the most prominent act of protest so far, two members of protest group Pussy Riot were detained by law enforcement authorities on Tuesday.

On the 11th day of full competition at the Feb 7-23 Games, favourite Tina Maze won her second gold of the Sochi Games in the women's giant slalom. The Slovenian, who shared downhill gold with Swiss Dominique Gisin in an Olympic first, made the most of starting first in slippery conditions to comfortably lead after the first run.

But it came down to hundredths of seconds in the end, as she just edged out Anna Fenninger of Austria. For most Russians, the big contest of the day comes at the futuristic Bolshoy Ice Dome, where the hosts face Norway in a mid-afternoon qualification playoff.

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