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Olympics: Joy for Fenninger, USA, Games hit by horror accident

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Anna Fenninger swept to Olympic super-G gold while the USA edged ice hockey rivals Russia Saturday, but gloom hit Sochi when a freestyle skier suffered a broken back in a horrific fall.

Austrian 24-year-old Fenninger showed off her smooth and technically sound giant slalom skills, conquering the demanding course to clock 1min 25.52sec for victory.

Only 12 of the leading 30 women managed to finish the 2.2km-long Rosa Khutor run -- with just three of the first 10 getting safely home.

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, T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the USA defeated Russia 3-2 in a nail-biting hockey clash to decide the latest chapter of the two giants' historic rivalry.

Pavel Datsyuk had two goals in regulation for the Russians while Joe Pavelski and Cam Fowler scored powerplay goals for the Americans with both coming while Russian forward Alexander Radulov was sitting in the penalty box.

- Disallowed the goal -

With the score tied 2-2 in the third period, the Russians appeared to score the winner, but the goal was disallowed, apparently because the net had been knocked out of place.

Away from the action, there was a sombre mood at the Extreme Park when Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova sustained a broken back in a fall while training on the ski-cross course.

The state-owned R-Sport news agency quoted a source familiar with the situation as saying the 23-year-old had sustained a fractured vertebrae while it was later revealed that Komissarova had undergone a six-hour operation to repair the damage to her spine.

"Maria Komissarova received a serious injury today during training. She was urgently taken to hospital," the Russian freestyle federation said.

"Doctors carried out the necessary examination and took the decision to operate on her on the spot."

The balmy weather conditions continued to pose headaches for schedulers, with a high of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded at the Black Sea coastal venues in the early afternoon

Up in the mountains of Rosa Khotur, it was 13 degrees Celsius.

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.

- Free of weather-related strife -

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.

Russia's Victor Ahn won his fourth gold in short track when he stormed to victory in the men's 1,000m.

Ahn, who won three golds for his native South Korea at the 2006 Turin Olympics before switching nationality, triumphed in a time of 1min 25.325sec.

Poland's Zbigniew Brodka won a dramatic 1,500m speed skating race by just three-thousandths of a second from devastated Dutchman Koen Verweij.

Sweden took a thrilling gold in the women's 4x5km cross country relay, overtaking Finland and Germany in the last metres while in women's short track, China's Zhou Yang defended her 1,500m title.

Later Saturday, 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.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140215/olympics-joy-fenninger-usa-games-hit-horror-accident