Russia land first gold in team figure skating
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SOCHI, Russia (AFP) — National idol Evgeni Plushenko and rising star Julia Lipnitskaia got hosts Russia off the mark yesterday sealing gold in the inaugural team figure skating at the Sochi Olympics.
It was a fourth Olympic medal for the 31-year-old but his achievement was almost overshadowed by Lipnitskaia, who sealed gold at the age of just 15 to euphoria at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Watched by President Vladimir Putin, Russia took a precious gold on home soil even before the final round — the ice dance free dance.
Ice dancers Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov then stepped up and placed third behind Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa virtue and Scott Moir.
The hosts won five of the eight sections over three days of competition to take gold with 75 points. Canada took silver with 65 with the United States bronze medallists with 60.
"I'm 31 years and this means everything to me. It's so much history," said 2006 Olympic champion and two-time silver medallist Plushenko.
He joins Swede Gillis Grafstroem as the only skater to win four figure skating medals — three in gold — between 1920 and 1932.
NHL teammates become foes at the Olympics
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — When the puck drops for men's hockey at the Sochi Games, friends will become foes.
The Czechs will face the Swedes on Wednesday, just four days after Boston beat Ottawa 7-2 in one of the NHL's last match-ups before its Olympic break.
David Krejci and Loui Eriksson both had two assists for the Bruins in the rout. On Wednesday, the forwards will be playing against each other and for their countries — Krejci for the Czech Republic and Eriksson for Sweden.
Most of the 18 preliminary-round games will feature NHL teammates as temporary opponents.
Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are not scheduled to face each other in the preliminary rounds, but both are hoping for a US-Canada rematch in the elimination round.
The Los Angeles Kings have six Olympians, representing four countries. Trash-talking began soon after the rosters were set last month.
"Throughout the room with the different teams, there's always been ribbing going on," Canada's Jeff Carter said.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has an NHL-high 10 of his players in the Olympics, spread out over five teams. He's looking forward to the game within the games.
Quenneville can see a trio of Swedes — Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger — gang up on the Czech Republic's Michal Rozsival on Wednesday. The next day, he can watch Kane get tested by Slovakia's Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus.
Verona rally to draw 2-2 with 'Juve'
MILAN, Italy (AFP) — Verona forward Juan Gomez came off the bench to level late and secure a 2-2 draw at home to Juventus as the champions spurned the chance to extend their lead on misfiring Roma yesterday.
Roma were away to Lazio in the city derby only four days after a 3-2 win over Napoli in the first leg of the Italian Cup semi-final.
But despite shading what was a rough and tumble encounter at the Olympic Stadium, Rudi Garcia's men failed to grab the win that would have reduced their deficit on the Bianconeri to seven points with a game in hand.
Draws for both title challengers mean Juventus retained their nine-point lead over the Giallorossi, with Napoli, who outclassed AC Milan on Saturday, are now only four points off second place in third.
With Napoli virtually out of the title equation, it remains a two-horse race for this season's scudetto and Garcia, whose side have yet to play a postponed match against Parma, appeared defiant.
Juventus looked to be on their way to a comfortable win in the north east after a Carlos Tevez double inside 21 minutes.
However, Luca Toni reduced arrears just after the restart and Juan Gomez headed past Gianluigi Buffon in the fourth minute of injury time as Juve's defence lost focus at a late free kick.
Schalke extend 6-match unbeaten
BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Schalke 04 extended their six-match unbeaten run with a 2-0 win at home to Hanover yesterday, to stay fourth in the Bundesliga behind run-away leaders Bayern Munich.
Schalke host Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid in the last 16, first leg of the Champions League later this month and have hit form after back-to-back defeats in December with three straight wins since the winter break.
The Royal Blues put on a regal performance at Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena with Jefferson Farfan tapping home after a superb run from defender Sead Kolasinac on 39 minutes.
Teenage wonder kid Max Meyer added a second a minute before the break.
The defeat ended Hanover's recent form having won their first two games of the year under new coach Tayfun Korkut to leave the guests lying tenth.
Earlier, ten-man VfB Stuttgart dropped closer to the Bundesliga's relegation battle after suffering their fifth-straight defeat in a 4-1 rout at home to buoyant Augsburg.
Bavarian minnows Augsburg are dreaming of international football next season as they rose to eighth after a sixth consecutive game unbeaten.
Two goals by midfielder Andre Hahn did the damage for Augsburg, who set a new club record of nine victories in a Bundesliga season at Stuttgart's Mercedes Benz Arena.
To compound the hosts' misery, Stuttgart had captain Vedad Ibisevic sent off with 53 minutes gone for striking Augsburg's Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker in the face.
The defeat leaves Stuttgart 14th in the table, only two places from the relegation zone.