Canada kicks off Sunday with two medals
Canada kicked off the second half of the Sochi Olympics with its fourth multi-medal performance of the Games.
Dominique Maltais took silver in women's snowboard cross Sunday, becoming the first athlete to win two Olympic medals in the event. She won bronze at the 2006 Turin Games.
Also on the slopes, Jan Hudec won bronze in the men's super-G. The medal ended Canada's 20-year podium drought in alpine skiing.
The medals came after a bit of a lull for Canada, which started off the Games with a bang but slowed down with two silvers and a bronze over four days of competition heading into Sunday's action. Canada now has 14 total medals (four gold, six silver, four bronze) and is still in the mix to attain its stated goal of winning the most medals in Sochi.
Maltais survived a wild semifinal run and came through with a strong effort in the final to sin silver. The result was vindication for Maltais, who had a disappointing showing at the Vancouver Olympics.
"I decided to have revenge and show the world how good I can be and how fast I can be on the course," said the 33-year-old rider from Petite-Riviere-St-Francois, Que. "The last four years I have been improving myself and focusing to get faster on that kind of track just for today.
"I made it happen today so I'm really, really happy."
Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic was dominant in her heats and never trailed in the final. France's Chloe Trespeuch was third.
Defending champion Maelle Ricker of West Vancouver, B.C., went down in the quarter-finals after trying to make a pass on a turn. She did well just to make it to Sochi after undergoing wrist surgery a few weeks ago.
Maltais won bronze at the Turin Games when snowboard cross made its Olympic debut. She was a contender heading into Vancouver but a training crash left her battered and she didn't advance to the elimination heats.
She completely changed her routine after the experience with one goal in mind — redemption in Sochi.
"The last four years have been like I was on a mission," she said. "Everything I was touching, everything I was eating was to be a better athlete, to get faster on that course."
Hudec had to overcome much more recent problems to get his medal.
He suffered a herniated a disc in his lower back in mid-January. It was so painful that he struggled to walk and under normal circumstances, he would have shut himself down. But he knew he needed to get some runs in so he entered a pair of World Cups right before Sochi.
"I'm over the moon considering where I came from in the last five weeks," said Hudec. "It's nothing short of a miracle to be here, to be able to even perform at this level. I can't be thankful enough."
Hudec finished tied with American star Bode Miller in one minute 18.67 seconds. Kjetil Jansrud won the fourth straight Olympic super-G gold medal for Norway in 1:18.14 and Andrew Weibrecht of the United States was second, 0.30 seconds behind.
For Hudec, who has battled a series of injuries throughout his career, it was meant to be.
"No matter how crappy it got the last five weeks, I never let that site (of racing in Sochi) leave my mind," he said. "That gave me the confidence and the strength to be mentally prepared for the race."
Canada's curlers both advanced to the playoffs. Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones improved to 8-0 with a 7-6 extra-end win over the United States, while Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won his fifth straight by beating the U.S. 8-6.
Jones could have put the game away in the 10th end, but she missed her last shot and the U.S. stole one to force an extra end.
But Jones, who has curled exceptionally in Sochi, didn't miss on her winning draw for a point in the 11th.
"The quality and calibre of teams here is so tremendous that you're going to have battles out there, but we're finding a way to be in control of our own game and holding our fate in our own hands," Jones said.
Jacobs also had to hold on for his win. American skip John Shuster had a chance to send the game to an extra end, but his final shot wound up just short, and the two sides shook hands.
"We played all right, definitely not our best, but it's still good to get the win knowing that we didn't put our best performance together," said Jacobs.
Jacobs faced China in a later draw with a chance to move into second place in the standings.
Later Sunday, Team Canada faced Finland in men's hockey.
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