For a moment, gold medal unites Ukraine

Ukrainian gold medalists (from left) Vita Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, Olena Pidhrushna and Valj Semerenko celebrated after their victory in the 4 x 6-kilometer biathlon relay.
Harry How/Getty Images
Ukrainian gold medalists (from left) Vita Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, Olena Pidhrushna and Valj Semerenko celebrated after their victory in the 4 x 6-kilometer biathlon relay.

The women’s biathlon team from Ukraine gave its country, marred by deadly riots, a victory it had been longing for.

The team won the Olympic 4x6-kilometer relay on Friday for its first gold medal of the Sochi Games.

Sergey Bubka, pole vault great and chief of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, tweeted, ‘‘Thanks to the girls — Vita and Valja Semerenko, Julia Dzhyma and Olena Pidhrushna!’’ he said ‘‘You made it for Ukraine!’’


‘‘I am very proud,’’ Bubka said. ‘‘The girls brought such a fantastic success, which really we needed today for the Ukrainian people, to bring the light, to bring the bright future and to show that Ukraine exists, the Ukrainian people together.’’

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The team missed five targets but avoided penalty loops to finish in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 2.5 seconds.

Defending champion Russia was 26.4 behind to take silver, and Norway trailed by 37.6 to win bronze.

It was the second medal for Ukraine these Games, after Vita Semerenko took bronze in the women’s 7.5K sprint.

It was Ukraine’s first gold medal since 1994, when Oksana Baiul won gold in figure skating.


It was a momentum-shifting day for Ukraine, with Parliament voting to restore the 2004 constitution that limits presidential authority, clawing back some of the powers that President Viktor Yanukovych had pushed through after being elected in 2010.

The US team of Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker, Sarah Studebaker, and Annelies Cook, finished seventh.

Freestyle skiing

Women’s ski cross — Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa finished 1-2 for Canada, giving their country bookend gold-silver performances in Olympic freestyle skiing.

Freestyle opened Feb. 8 with sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal finishing 1-2 in moguls.

This marked Thompson’s third and biggest win of the season.


The final pitted the four fastest women in qualifying. Thompson, ranked third, took an early lead against the first-ranked Serwa and never let it slip.

Ophelie David of France wiped out about two-thirds of the way down the course, which gave the bronze to Sweden’s Anna Holmlund.


Gold medal — Canada won a third consecutive Olympic title with an overwhelming 9-3 victory over Britain in eight ends to complete the country’s sweep of the gold medals at the Sochi Games.

Canada beat Sweden in the women’s final on Thursday.

Playing in their typically aggressive manner, Brad Jacobs’s Canadian team pounced on a string of mistakes by Britain to take a 6-1 lead after four ends. The British conceded with two ends still available because of the large deficit.

The result matched the biggest margin of victory in a men’s Olympic final, equaling Canada’s 10-4 win over Finland in 2006 and Switzerland’s 9-3 win against Canada in 1998. After starting the round robin with a 1-2 record, Jacobs’s rink won eight straight games to live up to the lofty expectations of a country where curling ranks second only to ice hockey in winter sports.

Bronze medal — Sweden won the bronze medal, beating China, 6-4, in a game that was decided by the final shot in an extra end.