Hattestad, Falla, give Norway double gold in cross-country
Canadians eliminated early
Norway won both cross-country sprints on Tuesday at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, with Ola Vigen Hattestad winning a crash-filled men’s event, while Maiken Caspersen Falla took gold on the women’s side.
Hattestad managed to avoid the carnage midway through the men’s final, as a crash took out three skiers, essentially leaving two men vying for gold.
The Norwegian posted a time of 3:38.39, outlasting Sweden’s Teodor Peterson, who took silver with a time of 3:39.61. Fellow Swede Emil Joensson ended up with the bronze, well back at 3:58.13.
Norwegians took gold and silver in the women’s sprint. Falla finished in first in a time with 2:35.49, and her teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg just stretched for the silver medal over Slovenia's Vesna Fabjan. Oestberg finished in 2:35.87, and Fabjan ended up with a time of 2:35.89.
U.S. skier Kikkan Randall, who was gunning to become the first American to win gold in cross country, made a surprising exit in the quarters of the women’s sprint, after finishing fourth in the deepest heat of the round. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, who won the skiathlon on Saturday and was the defending Olympic champion in this event, was eliminated in the semis.
Canadians shut out
No Canadians advanced to the semifinals of either event. Alex Harvey was Canada’s best hope for a medal in the men’s event, but was eliminated in the quarter-finals, finishing fourth in his heat.
Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., needed to finish in the top-two of his heat or post one of the two best times out of the rest of the competitors to advance. He finished the race with a time of 3:37.89.
Canadians Devon Kershaw, Jesse Cockney and Len Valjas all failed to crack the top 30 in the qualifying round and didn’t advance. Kershaw finished in 56th, Cockney in 53rd, and Valjas in 36th.
Two Canadian women advanced to the quarter-finals, but couldn’t get through their heats. Daria Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., finished fifth in the second grouping, and Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., placed fifth in the final heat.
Chandra Crawford, Canada’s 2006 Olympic champion in the event, finished out of the top 30 in the qualifying round and didn’t advance to the quarter-finals, placing 44th. Teammate Heidi Widmer finished just ahead of Crawford in 43rd.
Canadian coach helps Russian out
Though Canada was shut out of the medals, the Canadian cross-country team's head coach received a cheer from the crowd. Justin Wadsworth handed Russia’s Anton Gafarov a spare ski during the first heat of the men’s semifinal.
Gafarov crashed during the heat and broke his ski in the process, and despite being out of the race he was determined to finish the race. As he laboured, Wadsworth ran onto the slope, handing the Russian a spare ski so he could continue the course and cross the finish line.