Olympics gold medal count: Canada surges

Canada added a pair of gold medals and a silver to tie the Netherlands for the most gold medals on Day 3 of the Sochi Olympic Games. 

Rich Clabaugh/The Christian Science Monitor
Top Olympic medal winners as of Monday, Feb. 10.

Canada rose in the Sochi Olympics medal count Monday, adding two first-place finishes to tie the Netherlands for the most gold medals (three).

The Netherlands – led by a dominant speed skating squad – and perennial Winter Games powerhouse Norway are tied with Canada in the overall medal count at seven each. Russia follows with six overall medals, and the United States stands at five.

Canada’s Charles Hamelin won the country’s first gold of the day with a victory in the men’s short track 1,500-meter, while his countrymen Alex Bilodaeu and Mikael Kingsbury matched the Canadian women’s feat in the freestyle moguls by finishing one-two in the men’s event.

Speed skaters from the Netherlands continued their Sochi dominance by sweeping the 500-meter event Monday, two days after a sweep of the 5,000-meter event. Dutch twins Michel Mulder and Ronald Mulder placed first and third in Monday’s sweep, becoming the first twins to win medals in the same Olympic event since 1984. 

The United States posted its sole medal Monday in the women’s downhill super combined, where American Julia Mancuso snuck in for a surprise bronze. Mancuso, the most decorated woman skier in US Olympic history, now has four Olympic medals under her belt. The Monitor's Sochi correspondent, Mark Sappenfield, notes that Mancuso “excels in bad conditions. Most top racers crave consistency on courses so they know how far to push themselves,” but Mancuso is a different breed of elite skier, Sappenfield writes:

She leaves no doubts, the Olympics are what she cares about most. In the skiing world, this is not always typical. The Olympics are skiing’s biggest event, but most skiers will tell you that the World Cup is a better gauge of talent, and therefore means more to them. Winning an Olympic medal is for popularity, winning on the World Cup is for professional respect.

But Mancuso openly said she used this season’s World Cup only to prepare for the Olympics, and she loves that the Olympics generally involve skiing a new and unfamiliar course. On the World Cup, skiers ski the same courses year after year.

"I just excel at skiing new courses," Mancuso told the Associated Press. "If it's somewhere new and everyone is not quite used to it and if you add the pressure of the Olympics … it for some reason takes the pressure off and makes it more about skiing."

France and China won their first Olympic medals of the Games today: France took gold and bronze in the men’s biathlon pursuit, and 17-year-old Tianyu Han, skating in his first Olympics for China, took home silver in the short track 1,500-meter event.  

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