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Austria's Anna Fenninger swept to gold in an incident-packed, attritional Olympic super-G on Saturday as the United States and Russia prepared to renewed their titanic ice hockey rivalry in sun-kissed Sochi.
Only 12 of the leading 30 women managed to finish the 2.2km-long Rosa Khutor course -- with just three of the first 10 getting safely home.
But 24-year-old Fenninger, wearing bib number 18, showed off all of her smooth and technically sound giant slalom skills, conquering the course to clock 1min 25.52sec for victory.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch won silver at 0.55sec to go with the gold she won in the super-combined, while combined silver medallist Nicole Hosp of Austria took bronze, a further 0.11sec adrift.
"You have to be so tactical. I can't describe my emotions, I am really stunned. I didn't think it was going so well while I was going down," said Fenninger.
"I was very good up top, not so good at the bottom but in the middle section, there was still the possibility to go faster."
Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, who shared gold with Slovenia's Tina Maze in the downhill, was one of the skiers to crash out while Maze finished fifth just behind downhill bronze medallist Lara Gut of Switzerland.
In men's ice hockey, there are no medals at stake on Saturday but there will be plenty of historical overtones when the USA and Russia clash.
Russia are seeking to win their first gold medal since the 1992 Albertville Games while the Americans are hoping for their first gold since the "Miracle On Ice" victory over the Soviets at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.
In 1980, an underdog American team, consisting of mainly college players, posted one of the biggest Olympic upsets of all time by beating the Soviet Union "Red Machine", who had won almost every world championship and Olympics since 1964.
The USA went on to claim the gold medal by beating Finland in their final match of the tournament, while the Soviets won the silver.
- Temperatures continue to soar -
Since 1980, USA and Russia have met five times, with the Americans winning just once, and one match ending in a tie. In their most recent meeting, Russia won 5-4 at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
The balmy weather conditions continued to pose headaches for the Games schedulers, with a high of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded at the Black Sea coastal venues.
Up in the mountains of Rosa Khotur, it was 13 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) early on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday's men's super-G race will start earlier than planned at 10:00 am (0600 GMT) to make the most of firmer conditions.
Despite the bright sunshine, which has seen some competitors race in shorts and T-shirts, organisers insist the Games remain free of weather-related strife.
"We have had no sports cancelled or moved. Everything is going according to plan," said International Olympic Committee spokesman, Mark Adams.
In all seven golds were to be decided on Saturday.
World record holder Shani Davis of the United States races in the men's 1,500m speedskating event as he aims to make up for his disappointment in failing to take a third successive Olympic gold in the 1,000m on Wednesday.
The Americans will dump their high-tech suits for the remainder of the Games after expressing their dismay with their performance and will revert to the racing gear they use during the World Cup season.
Poland's Kamil Stoch aims to become only the third ski jumper to win both the normal and large hill golds at the same Olympics.
Swiss ski jumper Simon Ammann, twice a double gold medallist, is seeking a record fifth gold.
Latvian brothers Martins and Tomass Dukurs are among the favourites in the men's skeleton while short track titles will be decided in the women's 1,500m and men's 1,000m.
In Nordic skiing, the women's 4x5km relay will be contested.