Chapuis leads French surge

Members of Ukraine team pull out of Games as a mark of protest

Chapuis leads French surge

World champion Jean Frederic Chapuis was coolness personified as he led Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol to France's first Winter Olympics podium sweep in the men's ski cross final on Thursday.

Chapuis calmly negotiated the crashes and chaos of one of the most unpredictable events at the Sochi Games and the 1-2-3 was secured when the fourth finalist, Canada's Brady Leman, fell on the penultimate jump after tangling with Midol's skis.

"With the two other French guys it's like a dream," said Chapuis, who has dual nationality and was on the Swiss Alpine skiing team before switching sports and countries in 2010.

It was the second medal sweep for one nation in the freestyle skiing at the Extreme Park after the Americans took all three podium places in the slopestyle event.

It also ensured France their best tally at a Winter Games with a total of 14 medals, exceeding the 11 the nation won at Salt Lake City and Vancouver. Chapuis never looked like being caught once he got in front and when Leman fell, the French trio just had to stay upright after the final jump.

The exit of the Swedish medal contender Victor Oehling Norberg was the most spectacular, crash-landing on the final jump while leading his quarter-final – and missing out on the semis by only a matter of centimetres. Meanwhile, looking ahead to action in the evening session, all eyes will be on the evening finale of the women's figure skating contest.

Champion Kim Yuna of South Korea aims to become only the third woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles as the competition heads for a thrilling finale in the free dance.

Only a slender margin separates leader Kim from Russian Adelina Sotnikova and 2012 world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, who is in third after the short programme. There are also finals in women's ice hockey and curling, with Canada featuring in both.
The ice hockey final pits the United States against Canada, far and away the strongest teams in the sport.

Canada have had the upper hand recently, beating the Americans 2-0 in the 2010 Vancouver final and 3-2 in the preliminary round in Sochi. In curling, Canada's women face Sweden in another repeat of the 2010 final.


The International Olympic Committee, meanwhile, said some Ukrainian athletes had decided to leave Sochi for home, where at least 43 people have died in anti-government protests. They said they had withdrawn in protest at Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovic, who enjoys Moscow’s backing, and his government.

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