U.S., Netherlands Lead in Sochi with 20 Medals Each

The United States and the Netherlands surged toward the end of the day Tuesday at the Sochi Winter Olympics, leaving the two nations tied for the overall medals lead with 20.

In the final event of the day, U.S. skier David Wise won the inaugural men's freestyle halfpipe competition. With heavy snow falling, he tallied 92 points to head a medals podium comprised of world champions. Canada's Mike Riddle took silver and France's Kevin Rolland earned bronze.

Until the freestyle medals, the Dutch had been in the medals lead with a sweep in men's 10-km speedskating. Jorrit Bergsma finished in an Olympic record time of 12 minutes, 44.45 seconds to win gold, ahead of teammates Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong.

It was the fourth event in which Dutch skaters won gold, silver and bronze medals in Sochi.

Canadas second placed Mike Riddle, first placed David Wise of the U.S. and Frances third placed Kevin Rolland (from left) celebrate on the podium after the mens freestyle skiing halfpipe finals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor, Russia on Tuesday. /Reuters Canada's second placed Mike Riddle, first placed David Wise of the U.S. and France's third placed Kevin Rolland (from left) celebrate on the podium after the men's freestyle skiing halfpipe finals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor, Russia on Tuesday. /Reuters

◆ Slovenian Skier Wins Second Gold

In other competition Tuesday, Slovenian skier Tina Maze won her second gold in Sochi, taking first place in the women's giant slalom. The win followed her gold medal run last week in the downhill.

France's Pierre Vaultier won gold in the men's snowboard cross, postponed from Monday because of heavy fog. Vaultier was ecstatic after his "miracle" victory.

"My knee is broken, I am racing with a brace," he said. "It's just unbelievable -- first, to be here at the Olympics and second, to be in first place. That's great."

In Tuesday's three other medals events, Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen narrowly defeated Frenchman Martin Fourcade to win the men's 15-km biathlon mass start; Norway's Joergen Graabak took gold in the men's large hill Nordic combined, with silver going to his teammate, Magnus Moan; and Korean speed skaters finished first in the women's 3,000-m relay, ahead of Canada and Italy.

In men's curling, Britain reached the semifinals by beating Norway in a tiebreaker, 6-5. The game came down to the final shot, and British skip David Murdoch delivered. Britain faces Sweden and Canada plays China in the semifinals Wednesday.

◆ Men's Hockey Quarterfinals

At the futuristic Bolshoi Ice Dome, Russia beat Norway, 4-0, to qualify for the men's hockey quarterfinals. Canada and the United States, the men's ice hockey powers in Sochi along with Russia, also play in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

On Tuesday, members of Canada's men's hockey team spoke to reporters about the squad's quest for a second straight Olympic gold medal.

Canadian forward Ryan Getzlaf, a star for the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, said the national team needs to raise its level of play. "Well, I think anytime you're in the situation where you're win or go home, the urgency level is going to go up much like the [NHL] playoffs and those kind of things," Getzlaf said. "I think we have a group here that's had a lot of that experience, and we've got to draw on those things obviously going into the game tomorrow."

Sixty-seven of the 98 medal events at the Sochi Games are now completed. Trailing the United States and the Netherlands in the overall medal count are Russia with 19, Norway 18, Canada 17 and Germany 15. In gold medals, Germany leads with eight, and Norway has seven. The U.S. and the Netherlands are tied with six each.

VOA News / Feb. 19, 2014 07:54 KST