'Tot and Max' snatch Olympic pairs gold

This time, there was no judging scandal in the pairs. Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin eliminated any chance for controversy on Monday night in the Olympic pairs with a balletic free skate reminiscent of other great Russian couples.

“Tot and Max” won by 14,75 points from Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao—a margin that erased thoughts of any judging improprieties in the first Olympic pairs event since the 2002 Salt Lake City scandal that led to the new points system.

“I felt really great on the ice,” said Totmianina. “I can’t even explain the emotions because they are very, very high.”

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China won their second straight bronze medal.

Zhang and Zhang stole some of the limelight from the Russians, showing incredible courage and stamina to skate out their routine after Zhang Dan fell in a split while attempting an unprecedented throw quad salchow.
They stopped skating as Zhang Hao helped her off the ice, pain etched on her face.

But after a few minutes talking with their coaches, she asked to continue. With the fans clapping in support, the event referee allowed it and, somehow, they nailed every element in the next four minutes to secure silver.

A Russian or Soviet pair has won the pairs gold medal every Olympics since 1964.

Earlier, Joey Cheek produced his two best races to win the men’s speed-skating 500m and Hannah Teter dominated both runs to win the snowboarding half-pipe as the United States Winter Olympic team lifted their gold medal haul to four.

Cheek was in a class of his own. He was the only skater to break the 35-second mark for the one-and-a-quarter lap race at the Lingotto oval—and he did it in both legs of the event.

“It’s miraculous,” said Cheek. “I’m kind of shocked that I skated that fast. That’s the two best races I’ve ever skated in my life.”

Svetlana Ishmouratova of Russia was near flawless on her way to gold in the women’s 15km biathlon, missing just one of the 20 targets in shooting.

Teter led the second straight US 1-2 finish in snowboarding.

Gretchen Bleiler took silver in the half-pipe. Kjersti Buaas of Norway was third.

On Sunday, Americans Shaun White and Danny Kass won gold and silver in the men’s event.

Teter’s first run sealed gold and she could have cruised down the half-pipe in her second but instead she posted the top run of the day, scoring 46,4 on the strength of a frontside 540 followed by a frontside 900.

At the Cesana San Sicaria biathlon course, Ishmouratova finished in 49 minutes and 24,1 seconds. Teammate Olga Pyleva also only missed once, but was not as quick on her skis, ending 45,5 seconds back in second place. Martina Glagow of Germany was third.

“I consider myself very lucky today,” Ishmouratova said.

Defending champion Andrea Henkel had a chance to repeat her gold-medal performance from Salt Lake City until she missed two targets on her final shoot. She finished fifth.

In Sestriere, practice for the women’s downhill was repeatedly interrupted by crashes.

Defending Olympic champion Carole Montillet-Carles of France and gold-medal contender Lindsey Kildow of the US both slammed into the snow after losing control on the icy run and had to receive treatment from medics on the slope before being carried away on sleds and taken by helicopter to hospital.

The 21-year-old American has a severely bruised left hip, US Alpine physician Bill Sterett said.

“She has no other significant injuries and has not ruled out competing in these games,” Sterett said. “I’ve known her for 10 years, and she’s a very tough young lady.”

Montillet-Carles (32) hurt her ribs and back. Her ninth vertebra is a problem and burns on her face mean she cannot put on her helmet.

“There is very little chance she will race the downhill,” said French team technical director Gerard Rougier said.

Canada’s Allison Forsyth is definitely out after she crashed and damaged ligaments in her left knee.

There also were several crashes in the women’s luge, the worst when US slider Samantha Retrosi was taken away in an ambulance after slamming into the wall on the second run. Retrosi had a concussion and short-term memory loss and was taken by helicopter from Cesana to Turin.

The International Olympic Committee reports an all-clear on doping. It has conducted 161 doping tests between the opening of the Turin Games athletes’ village on January 31 and Saturday night and all came back negative.—Sapa-AP

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