Ligety nails first Alpine gold for US

India's Himanshu signs off on disappointing note

The power of men’s ice hockey and grace of women’s figure skating were the big draws at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, but athletes from Ukraine, which neighbours host nation Russia,  found it hard to focus following bloody protests at home.

In the men’s giant slalom, which Ted Ligety won to claim the first US Alpine skiing gold at the Sochi Games. Thick fog, rain and snow that made skiing so difficult over the last two days had lifted, and conditions were clear.

Far from the sporting arena, Ukraine's Olympic team were struggling to come to terms with deadly clashes at home in which at least 26 people have been killed.Ukraine's athletes asked for permission to wear black arm bands to honour those killed, but the International Olympic Committee refused.

In a rush of gold in the Caucasus mountains high above Sochi, Ligety claimed the United States’ first Alpine skiing title of the Games by beating two Frenchmen to the top of the podium in the giant slalom.

Russia’s Vic Wild won the Olympic men's snowboard parallel giant slalom gold medal just minutes after his wife, Alena Zavarzina, had won bronze behind Swiss champion Patrizia Kummer in the women's event.

Norway, anchored by the indomitable Marit Bjoergen, won the women's team sprint classic gold medal, and in the men's event, Finland prevailed.

Norway went top of the overall medals table with eight golds, ahead of Germany. France,  Norway and Russia are among the favourites for the mixed relay in biathlon.Himanshu 72nd 

India’s campaign in the Games came to a disappointing end with Himanshu Thakur finishing 72nd in the men’s giant slalom event on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old Himanshu, in his first Winter Olympics, clocked a combined timing of 3 minutes 37.55 seconds over two races to finish last among those who completed the race.

A total of 107 skiers took part in the event and as many as 35 were either disqualified or could not finish the race.

Ted Ligety of United States won the gold medal with a combined time of 2 minutes 45.29 seconds. Silver medallist Steve Missillier of France was 0.48 seconds slower with a time of 2:45.77. Alexis Pinturault of France won the bronze in 2:45.93.  Three Indians had participated in the Sochi Winter Olympics and all of them have brought up rear positions in their respective events.

Cross country skier Nadeem Iqbal had finished 85th in the men’s 15km classic run event out of 87 athletes, who completed the race on February 14, while luger Shiva Keshavan had ended at 37th.

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