Fast finish carries Norwegian to gold Canada tops USA in men's hockey final
• Photo gallery: Winter Olympics Sunday Feb. 28
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Petter Northug saw the back of a familiar rival ahead of him, and knew this race would have a familiar ending.
The Norwegian blew past Germany's Axel Teichmann near the finish line for the second time at these Olympics, using his trademark sprint to win the 50-kilometer classical cross-country race for his second gold medal of the games.
"I knew I could take him," Northug said with his usual bravado. "I had another gear to use if I needed it."
This gear was more than enough.
Northug finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 35.5 seconds. Teichmann took the silver after coming in 0.3 seconds behind. Johan Olsson of Sweden took bronze, 1 second back.
Northug specializes in winning mass starts just like this one, where he can simply tag along behind the leaders for much of the way before deciding the race with his unrivaled closing ability. Teichmann knows that very well — Northug overtook him in similar fashion to give Norway the gold in the team sprint.
Yesterday, the German tried to pull away from the rest of the leading group in the final uphill section, but never got enough of a gap to shake Northug.
"I knew that if I don't fall or end up breaking a pole, I have a very good chance to sprint down Teichmann," Northug said, before paying tribute to the German — and himself.
"Teichmann is maybe the second-best sprinter after 30K, or after 50K," he said, not bothering to point out who's the best. "He's really fast at the end."
SECOND ATHLETE TESTS POSITIVE
Lubomir Visnovsky — a Slovakian hockey player for the Edmonton Oilers — tested positive for a stimulant contained in a cold medication and received a reprimand from the IOC.
This is only the second doping violation of these Olympics. A female Russian hockey player was reprimanded after testing positive for a stimulant before the games.
The IOC said Visnovsky declared on his doping control form that he was taking the medication pseudoephdrine and didn't know it was prohibited.
Slovakia lost to Finland, 5-3, in the bronze-medal game Saturday night.
IOC PRESIDENT DEFENDS JUDGING
IOC president Jacques Rogge called the figure skating judging "absolutely impeccable," regardless of what Russia's Evgeni Plushenko thinks.
After settling for silver, Plushenko griped that the scoring was flawed because his routine was more difficult than the one by gold medalist Evan Lysacek of the United States.
Rogge said international skating authorities have made it clear they value versatility.
"If Plushenko wants things to be changed," Rogge said, "he has to ask his own Russian federation to work at the level of the ISU to adapt the rules."
Rogge also called Plushenko, a former gold medalist, a "great champion."
ERROR MAY LEAD TO ADDITIONAL COACH
Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer is considering hiring an additional coach after a disastrous error by his current one cost him a second gold medal.
Kramer said yesterday he was not planning to dump Gerard Kemkers but may add another coach to his team as he builds toward the Sochi Games in 2014.
Such an addition though would sharply change the way Kramer has been working with Kemkers the past five years as he became the world's dominant skater.
Kramer won the 5,000-meter Olympic race. In the 10,000, Kemkers sent him into the wrong lane during a crossover deep into a race he was well on his way to winning. More miscommunication cost the Dutch team pursuit a spot in the final.
"It is tough because three times you are fastest and you only have one gold. You have nothing to show for the rest," he said.