SOCHI, Russia — Four Ukrainian women teamed up to win their country’s first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, giving the politically divided nation some good news after days of bloody anti-government protests back home.
As government and opposition leaders worked on a political solution to the months-long crisis, the Ukrainian women won the 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay. The four medalists wrapped themselves in the Ukraine flag as they celebrated victory.
The first doping cases also hit the Winter Games on Friday. Italian bobsledder William Frullani and German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle were kicked out of the games after positive doping tests. Frullani was due to compete in the four-man bobsled race, which begins Saturday. Sachenbacher-Stehle, a five-time Olympic medalist, participated in five events in Sochi but did not win any medals.
On the ice, undefeated Sweden advanced to hockey’s gold medal game when Erik Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal in a 2-1 victory over Finland. The Swedes will meet Canada, winner of a 1-0 victory over the United States.
The North American hockey powers, both entering their match up unbeaten in Sochi, played in a rematch of the 2010 and 2002 gold-medal games that Canada won.
Elsewhere, 18-year-old U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest ever gold medal winner in the women’s slalom; Marielle Thompson of Canada edged teammate Kelsey Serwa for the gold in women’s skicross; and Canada routed Britain 9-3 to win its third straight gold medal in men’s curling.
On Day 15 at the Sochi Olympics, medals also were being awarded in three short track speedskating races.
BIATHLON: Ukraine’s team of twins Vita and Valj Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, and Olena Pidhrushna missed five targets but avoided penalty loops to finish in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 2.5 seconds. Russia was 26.4 seconds behind to take silver, and Norway trailed by 37.6 to win bronze.
ICE HOCKEY: Finland went up early in the second period when Olli Jokinen scored, but Loui Eriksson tied it up and Karlsson made it 2-1 with a slap shot from the middle of the ice. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots for the Swedes.
ALPINE SKIING: Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion, male or female, with her win. That mark was previously held by Paoletta Magoni of Italy, who won gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Games when she was 19. Austrians Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel took silver and bronze.
FREESTYLE SKIING: Thompson and Serwa gave Canada its third 1-2 finish in freestyle skiing events in Sochi. The others came in men’s and women’s moguls. Canada also won gold and bronze in women’s slopestyle skiing, and picked up a silver in the men’s halfpipe, for a total of nine freestyle medals. In the skicross final, Ophelie David of France wiped out about two-thirds down the course, giving the bronze to Sweden’s Anna Holmlund.
CURLING: Canada’s championship gave the country a sweep of the curling titles in Sochi. The Canadian women won their first-ever curling title on Thursday. Sweden won the bronze in men’s curling, taking an extra end to defeat China 6-4.