Ishmouratova takes Olympic biathlon gold

Svetlana Ishmouratova of Russia was near flawless on her way to gold in the women's 15-kilometer biathlon at the Olympics Monday, while two strong contenders for the women's downhill had spectacular crashes in training. Later Monday, figure skating fans could put the disappointment of Michelle Kwan's withdrawal behind them and concentrate on the free program in the pairs, where two-time world champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia were favorites to become the 12th consecutive team from the Soviet Union or Russia to capture the event.

Medals also were being contested in the men's 500-meter speedskating and women's snowboarding halfpipe. At the Cesana San Sicaria biathlon course in the sun-kissed mountains above Turin, Ishmouratova missed just one target out of 20 to finish in 49 minutes 24.1 seconds. Teammate Olga Pyleva also only missed once, but was not as quick on her skis, ending 45.5 seconds back in second place. Martina Glagow of Germany was third.

Defending champion Andrea Henkel was in with a chance of repeating her gold medal performance from Salt Lake City until she missed two targets on her final shoot. She finished fifth. In nearby Sestriere, the women's downhill training was repeatedly interrupted by crashes.

Defending Olympic champion Carole Montillet-Carles of France and gold medal contender Lindsey Kildow of the United States both slammed into the snow after losing control on the icy run and had to receive treatment from medics on the slope before being carried away on sleds.

Kildow was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Turin, according to Pascale Vogeli, press manager for the downhill venue. A third racer, Allison Forsyth, crashed and also had to be taken off on a toboggan.

It was not immediately clear how badly hurt the three racers were or whether they would be fit for Wednesday's race. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee announced that it had carried out 161 doping tests between the opening of the Turin Olympics athletes' village on Jan. 31 and Saturday night and all came back negative. "There are no anti-doping violations to date," International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Monday, reports the AP.

N.U.