Martin Fourcade of France produced a masterful performance to win the men’s biathlon 20 kilometre race to add another gold to his collection in Sochi having also won the pursuit on Monday.
Fourcade – a five time world champion – missed one target at the shooting range but set a blistering pace over the last four kilometres on the skis to keep his rivals at bay.
German Erik Lesser shot clean but had to be content with silver, 12.2 seconds behind Fourcade while Russian Evgeniy Garanichev celebrated his 26th birthday with the bronze medal.
There’s more to come from the red-hot Fourcade in the coming days as he will also compete in three more races – the mass start, relay and mixed relay which could possibly take his gold medal tally for these Games to an impressive five.
A classic from Kowalczyk
Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk showed no signs of discomfort from her micro fracture in her left foot when she powered to Olympic gold in the women’s cross-country 10km classic.
It was her second career Olympic gold after also winning the 30 kilometre race in Vancouver four years ago.
The four-time overall World Cup champion was 18 seconds clear of silver medallist Charlotte Kalla of Sweden.
Norwegian Therese Johaug won the bronze.
Cross-country star and four-time Olympic champion Marit Bjorgen, who won the skiathlon in Sochi, faded at the end of the race and had to settle for fifth.
Christie collision costs silver
Elsewhere the ladies’ 500 m short track final highlighted the fact that collisions are an unavoidable part of the sport.
Britain’s Elise Christie missed out on silver – and bronze for that matter – when she was blamed for a first lap crash that sent herself, Italian Ariana Fontana and six-time world champion Seung-Hi Park sliding to the walls.
China’s Li Jianrou avoided the pileup to win gold, Fontana was promoted to silver, Park to bronze and Christie relegated to eighth.
Zhang stuns big guns
China were back on top of the Olympic speed skating podium later in the day when Hong Zhang upset the form book to win the 1 000 metres title.
Zhang crossed over 0.67 seconds clear of silver medallist Irene Wust, who won her third career Olympic gold with victory in the 3 000 metres on Sunday.
Fellow Dutch skater Margot Boer claimed bronze.
Current world champion in this discipline and pre-race favourite Olga Fatkulina of Russia was fourth.
Plushenko withdraws through injury
Russian figure skating fans were left devastated on Thursday when skating super star and national hero Yevgeny Plushenko pulled out of the men’s competition due to a back injury.
The 31-year-old double Olympic Champion injured himself during a warm-up session for the short program and withdrew from the event seconds before he had been due to start his routine.
The announcement of Plushenko’s exit left more than 10,000 fans inside the arena deflated and ended one of the most talked about careers in figure skating.
He won’t leave Sochi without a medal, though, after helping Russia win the team event.
The short program went ahead without the host’s darling skater and Japan’s gold medal hope Yuzuru Hanyu produced a stunning performance to lead the event with a record score of 101.45 points.
Patrick Chan of Canada heads into Friday’s free program in second place with 97.52 points while currently sitting in third place is European champion from Spain, Javier Fernandez on 86.98 points.
The Star-Spangled podium
Team USA celebrated a clean sweep of the podium in the men’s men’s free ski slopestyle event – which made it’s Olympic debut in Sochi.
Joss Christensen won gold, Team USA’s fourth of the Games so far, Gus Kenworthy the silver and Nick Goepper the bronze.
Germany top of the pile
Germany strengthened their position at the top of medals table in Sochi adding a gold in the luge team relay and silver in the Biathlon to their tally on Thursday.
After the day’s action Germany lead the show with seven gold, two silver and one bronze.
Winter Olympic heavyweights Canada are second (4, 4, 2) ahead of Norway, who won have the most medals so far with 13 (4, 3, 6).
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