Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

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Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. (REUTERS)
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South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay. (AP)
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Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history. (AFP)
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Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

SPEED SKATING: Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. The 27-year-old — who was in pain because of an ankle injury — was disqualified in her women’s 1,000 meters heat and had to be carried off the track on. It was a sad end to another disappointing Games for the Scot — a triple world champion. Christie, who was disqualified in all three of her events at Sochi 2014, fell in the 500m final and suffered the same fate in Saturday’s 1500m semifinal. And she said: “I guess you could say (I am cursed). It’s a bit weird that it seems to happen at Olympics and nowhere else. I’m not someone who commonly gets penalties and stuff, so it just seems mental. It’s just six races of my life that have gone completely wrong.”
Meanwhile, South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay, defending the title they won in Sochi. It was a typically wild race for the gold with several crashes and near wipeouts before South Korea grabbed control with two laps left. They muscled their way to the front, triggering a mighty roar from the near-capacity crowd, before holding on for victory to maintain their domination of the event. Canada won the first relay gold at the 1992 Albertville Olympics but South Korea have taken ownership since, topping the podium in six of the next seven Games with only China interrupting that run with victory in 2010. Italy took the silver while China and Canada were disqualified in the final to hand the bronze medal to the Netherlands who set a world record to win the B Final.

BIATHLON: Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history by anchoring his team to victory in the biathlon mixed relay. The 29-year-old became the first athlete to win three gold medals in Pyeongchang, lifting his career tally to five Olympic golds. That is the most of any French athlete in Summer or Winter Olympics. Fourcade erased a 38-second deficit on the last leg of the relay by hitting all 10 shots to secure the French team to the come-from-behind win. Fourcade had enough of a lead to wave the French flag as he crossed the finish line for his team in one hour, eight minutes and 34.3 seconds, more than 20 seconds ahead of second place Norway.

CURLING: Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky could not have taken a banned drug deliberately, Russia’s sports minister said after anti-doping authorities confirmed a violation that has rocked the Pyeongchang Games. Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, and is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in the near future after he tested positive for a banned substance, meldonium. “It’s obvious that in this particular case, the athlete could not have intentionally used a prohibited substance, it just does not make any sense,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said. “Curling, in theory, in not the kind of sport in which dishonest athletes dope,” he added. The Russian Olympic delegation said on Tuesday it could not explain how meldonium, which can aid endurance, ended up in Krushelnitsky’s body and that it was launching an investigation.


Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

Updated 25 March 2019
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Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

  • Five-year old bidding to become first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.
  • $12 million race takes place at Meydan on Saturday.

LONDON: Thunder Snow is preparing well as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups, according to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
The five-year-old memorably won the showcase $12 million race at Meydan by five and three-quarter lengths, winning in a track record time last year. He returned to the track on Super Saturday two weeks ago, finishing second in the Group 1 Al-Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
And Godolphin are expecting big things from him in the famous race. Bin Suroor, the most successful handler in the history of the 2000m dirt feature with eight winners to his name, is feeling confident.
“He did his final serious piece of work on Saturday and went very well indeed,” the Godolphin trainer said. “He needed his Super Saturday outing — his first run since November — badly and has come on a lot for it. We expect him to run a big race under conditions we know suit him, but obviously it is a good race.”
Thunder Snow has already made history as the only horse to win both the Group 2 UAE Derby and Group 1 Dubai World Cup, but if he is to win this Saturday then he will be revered for years to come.
One of his big rivals in the race will be Yoshida. Trained by Bill Mott he arrived in Dubai on March 19 in preparation for the cash-rich race. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry landed in the Emirate off a sixth-place finish in the inaugural Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
He won the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the prestigious Woodward at Saratoga last year and Riley Mott, assistant to his father Bob, said Yoshida is looking good ahead of the big race.
“He’s settled in really well,” he said. “He traveled great and we’re very happy with him. The facilities here are top class. This is my seventh time over here and we’re treated very well.”
Yoshida went out just after 7:00 a.m. in Monday to stretch his legs over the famous dirt track.
“He just had a routine gallop this morning and we let him stand in the gate. Nothing too serious,” Mott said.
Jose Ortiz, who has piloted Yoshida though his last two starts and was aboard for the Grade 1 score at Churchill Downs, will make his first appearance in Dubai. Mott said he expects Ortiz, who guided Yoshida to a closing fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have plenty of options in the 2000m race.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of pace from the local horses, but we have a horse that’s pretty versatile in the way he runs,” Mott said. “He’s able to adapt to the pace scenario. It’s just a matter of how the race develops in front of him.”