Russia wins its eighth Olympic gold medal, Switzerland takes snowboard parallel slalom title

Russia won its eighth gold medal of the Turin Olympics when it easily beat two-time defending champion Germany in the 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay Thursday.

Later in the day, reigning world champion Irina Slutskaya was aiming to add to Russia's gold tally by overtaking Sasha Cohen of the United States in women's figure skating.

If Slutskaya can overhaul the slight lead Cohen built up after the short program, she will complete a Russian sweep of all four Olympic figure skating events.

Russia dominated the biathlon relay, beating Germany by 50.7 seconds. France finished third.

Anna Bogaliy started in place of Olga Pyleva, the only athlete caught so far in the tightest drug net in Winter Olympics history, and gave her team a big lead at the first exchange that the Russians never gave up.

The Russian team of Bogaliy, Svetlana Ishmouratova, Olga Zaitseva and Albina Akhatova covered the San Sicario course in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 12.5 seconds.

Germany's star-studded team of Martina Glagow, Andrea Henkel, Katrin Apel and Kati Wilhelm finished 50.7 seconds behind for the silver, and France overtook Belarus for the bronze.

Bringing back three of the four biathletes from the gold-medal winning 2002 team, the Germans were the favorite to capture this event again, especially after Pyleva was thrown out of the games and stripped of her silver medal last week for using a banned stimulant.

The Russians simply were too good on the shooting range for the rest of the 18-team field.

The Russians needed only two extra bullets to knock down their 40 targets. Germany needed eight, and Apel had to ski a penalty loop for missing a target on the third leg, ruining any chance for Wilhelm, who won gold in the 10km pursuit, of catching Akhatova on the final leg.

Switzerland continued its dominance of the snowboarding parallel giant slalom when three-time defending World Cup champion Daniela Meuli won gold after her opponents in the semifinals and final crashed.

Philipp Schoch had won the men's event a day earlier, with brother Simon taking silver.

Amelie Kober of Germany won silver and Rosey Fletcher won the United States' first ever medal in the event by taking bronze.

At the men's freestyle aerials, Han Xiaopeng won China's second gold of the games, adding to Wang Meng's victory in short-track speedskating. Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus took silver and Vladimir Lebedev of Russia won bronze after coming to the Olympics ranked 30th in the world.

Sweden needed an extra end to beat Switzerland for curling gold. The victory gave Sweden its 11th medal of these games beating the country's previous best Winter Olympic haul of 10 set in 1948 and 1956.

The Swedes, who starred in a heavy metal video ahead of the games, played a conservative game to beat Switzerland 7-6 in an extra end in the Olympic gold medal game. Earlier, Canada defeated Norway 11-5 to take bronze.

Away from the competition, testing was continuing on doping samples taken from 10 Austrian athletes last weekend during raids of the country's accommodation in the Italian Alps, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team