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Sage Kotsenburg wins surprising gold in slopestyle

SOCHI RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08:  Sage Kotsenburg United States competes Snowboard Men's Slopestyle Final during day 1 Sochi 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Sage Kotsenburg of the United States competes in the Snowboard Men's Slopestyle Final during day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

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Updated: March 10, 2014 6:50AM



The kid they call ‘‘Second-run Sage’’ didn’t waste time putting down the run of his life.

Unheralded Sage Kotsenburg of the United States tamed the treacherous slopestyle course Saturday to grab the first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics. And he did it with a run that left him momentarily stunned in disbelief.

Kotsenburg’s first run, which featured jumps of 31/2 rotations and two flips and 41/2 rotations while grabbing his snowboard and flexing it behind his back, ended with a score of 93.50 that held up for the next 30 minutes as the rest of the field failed to catch him.

Staale Sandbech of Norway won the silver and Mark McMorris of Canada, who nearly missed the finals because of a broken rib, the bronze.

‘‘Never even tried it before,’’ Kotsenburg, 20, said of the 41/2
rotations. ‘‘Never, ever tried it in my life. I kind of do random stuff all the time, never make a plan up. I had no idea I was even going to do a 1,620 [41/2 rotations] in my run until three minutes before I dropped. It’s kind of what I’m all about.’’

But Kotsenburg’s victory wasn’t without controversy. Several competitors performed the much-
ballyhooed triple cork, which features three head-over-heels flips. That was considered by many to be the must-have trick to win the gold, but Kotsenburg didn’t even attempt it, leaving some scratching their heads.

‘‘I think definitely Mark and
Staale did some runs that should’ve scored higher,’’ said Sebastien Toutant of Canada, who finished ninth. ‘‘Sage had some really creative stuff, but whatever. They’re all homeys. They deserved it. The sport is getting judged by humans, and life goes on.’’

BIATHLON

Bjoerndalen oldest to win gold

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway became the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist at 40 by winning the men’s 10-kilometer sprint. Bjoerndalen broke the
record held by skeleton racer Duff Gibson of Canada, who was 39 when he won gold in 2006 in
Turin, Italy.

‘‘I am in super form,’’ Bjoerndalen said. ‘‘I prepared well for this, and I am feeling strong.’’

Bjoerndalen missed one target before finishing in 24 minutes, 33.5 seconds for his seventh Olympic gold medal, leaving him one short of the all-time mark held by cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie of Norway. With his 12th medal overall, Bjoerndalen also tied Daehlie’s record for most medals won at the Winter Games.

Dominik Landertinger of Austria finished 1.3 seconds behind to take the silver and Jaroslav
Soukup of the Czech Republic 5.7 seconds back to earn the bronze.

SPEEDSKATING

Kramer breaks 5,000 record

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands set an Olympic record and defended his title in the men’s 5,000 meters, winning gold with a time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds.

With the king, queen and prime minister of his country cheering him on, Kramer flew around the big oval with amazingly consistency, all falling within a range of eight-tenths of a second. He easily beat the previous Olympic mark of 6:14.60 he set in 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Dutch swept the medals. Jan Blokhuijsen took the silver and Jorrit Bergsma the bronze.

FREESTYLE SKIING

Canadian sisters go 1-2

Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the women’s moguls.

Hannah Kearney of the United States was denied a second consecutive gold in an event she dominated between the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games and settled for the bronze.

HOCKEY

U.S. women capture opener

Hilary Knight scored 53 seconds into the game, and Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter tallied in the second period to give the U.S. women a 3-1 victory against Finland in their Olympic opener. The United States outshot Finland 43-15 and dominated play for most of the game.

Sun-Times wires



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