Iron Lady Bjoergen claims third gold

 Norway held their lead at the top of the medals table on Saturday as the Sochi Olympics entered the final weekend, and Russia said its first Winter Games had helped "break the ice" of scepticism towards the host nation.

On another day of glorious sunshine, Norway's "Iron Lady" Marit Bjoergen signed off with her third gold of the Games in the 30 km cross-country skiing, matching her haul in Vancouver.

Compatriot Therese Johaug took silver and Kristin Stoermer Steira, also Norwegian, claimed bronze in a rare clean sweep.

Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the 40-year-old whose 13 Olympic medals make him the most decorated Winter Games athlete, hoped to extend that record with a podium finish in the biathlon relay.

With 91 of the 98 Sochi events completed, Norway sit atop the overall medals table in Sochi with 11 golds, one ahead of Russia and two ahead of Canada and the United States. The hosts will be delighted with their showing, despite the bitter taste of defeat in the men's ice hockey competition at the quarterfinal stage.

The men's slalom brings down the curtain on the Alpine skiing programme, and Austria's Marcel Hirscher is the man to beat. He is seeking to complete a triple by adding the Olympics to his World Cup and world championship titles.

In the women's snowboard parallel slalom, Austria's Julia Dujmovits won, and in the men's event it was Russia's Vic Wild who prevailed.

Dutch domination in speed skating is set to be underlined in the Adler Arena where rivals will struggle to derail the orange locomotive in the men's and women's team pursuit.

The US speed skating team departs the Winter Olympics without a medal for the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Games after their men's and women's team pursuit trios were both knocked out in the first round on Friday.

The biggest sporting event still to come is the men's ice hockey final at the futuristic Bolshoy Ice Dome on Sunday, pitting reigning champions Canada against Sweden, who won the competition in Turin in 2006.

Third positive test

On Saturday, the Ukraine National Olympic Committee said cross-country skier Marina Lisogor had failed a doping test, a day after a German and Italian athlete were thrown out of Sochi for taking banned substances.

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