AMERICANS MAKE HISTORY ON ICE
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White skated into the history books at the Sochi Winter Olympics yesterday morning (Singapore time) when they won the ice dance gold, but thick fog in the mountains forced organisers to postpone two events and warn of more delays to come.
Belarus maintained their remarkable medal charge, picking up two more titles including gold for Darya Domracheva, who is now the only woman to have won three biathlon titles at the same Games after her 12.5km mass start victory.
In the biggest contest of the day, another record fell.
Davis and White became the first Americans to win the Olympic ice dance title with a spellbinding performance to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade".
While their dazzling display thrilled the crowd packed into the Iceberg Skating Palace, spectators in the mountains were disappointed by the postponement of the men's biathlon 15km mass start and men's snowboard cross competitions until this morning.
"We're so excited, we're kind of in shock a little. I'm not sure what we're feeling," a beaming Davis said after improving on their silver medal finish from four years ago.
White added: "To come away with a gold medal is amazing... And 17 years of hard work was justified."
Weather delays may extend further into the final week of the Games, officials have warned, with the women's giant slalom possibly turning into a two-day affair.
Safety was organisers' main concern after a series of injuries at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, as fog and drizzle replaced a week of uninterrupted sunshine in the Caucasus peaks high above Sochi.
The worst accident involved Russian ski cross athlete Maria Komissarova, who was flown to a specialist clinic in Germany on Sunday for a second operation after having had lengthy surgery to attach a metal plate in her spine.
After a series of weather-related delays, Domracheva won the first title of the day.
The 27-year-old said support from Russians in the crowd meant it was almost like skiing at home.
"I am thankful to the people who support me. Without their support it'd be harder," she told a news conference. "I was hearing 'Dasha, Dasha' from the tribune.
"Russian family, Belarussian family. All these nations, Russians, Belarussians, we are like brothers and sisters. For me, I feel this country is really native for me," she added.
Hours later, compatriot Anton Kushnir won the men's freestyle skiing aerials competition to take Belarus to seventh in the medals table with five golds - one more than Canada.
Russia moved up to third in the rankings, with gold in the two-man bobsleigh.
Alexander Zubkov secured the Olympic title he came out of retirement to win, as Russia's flagbearer at the Games' opening ceremony proved uncatchable on home ice.
Germany leads the world with six days of competition to go, securing an eighth Olympic title with the last event of the day - the men's team ski jumping.
The Games lost one of its top athletes when Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal decided to leave without competing in his final two races after failing to win a medal.
Expectations had been high after he showed great form this season.
AS AT PRESS TIME
MEDAL TALLY WINTER OLYMPICS