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Canada sits comfortably at the top of the gold medal standings with 13

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-28

With 13, Canada can be confident of finishing the Vancouver Olympics with the most number of gold medals. Austria's alpine reputation, meanwhile, lies in tatters as their men limped out of the Games without a single medal from five alpine events.

AFP - Canada ensured it will finish its home Olympics with more gold than anyone else Saturday as Italy's Giuliano Razzoli won the slalom to condemn once-proud Austria to their worst men's alpine showing since 1936.

On the penultimate day of the Vancouver Games, the Canadians had 13 gold after capturing three more Saturday. Germany have 10 and the United States nine.

There are only two more medal events left, including a blockbuster ice hockey final between Canada and the United States that closes the 17 days of competition on Sunday.

If the hosts win, they will become the first country ever to bag 14 gold from a Winter Games.

The US can't overtake their North American rivals, but a gold by Steven Holcomb's USA 1 in the men's four-man bobsleigh meant they equalled the most medals by any nation at a single Games in Winter Olympic history.

Add in a guaranteed medal from the hockey and they have 37 -- one more than Germany's 36 medal haul from 2002 in Salt Lake City for a new rocord.

Veteran Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson upset Austrian favourite Benjamin Karl in the men's snowboard parallel slalom to give the hosts their first gold of the day, sparking more celebrations in a country that has embraced the Olympics with a passion.

"A true athlete drives out adversity so I try to be a true athlete. I love being in new situations where I rise above the challenge," said the beaming 34-year-old.

Canada then won the men's speed skating team pursuit ahead of the United States and the Netherlands before their dominant men's curlers crushed Norway 6-3 for the title.

Razzoli clocked a combined total of 1min 39.32sec over the two runs to win the slalom, 0.16sec ahead of Croatia's Ivica Kostelic with Andre Myhrer of Sweden third.

"It's a dream because I've been training a lot for this day. It's incredible," said Razzoli.

"It's been a long time coming, the last time Italy had a medal in the slalom was in 1992, and now in 2010, it's fantastic."

His victory left Austria's alpine reputation in tatters as their men limped out of the Games without a single medal from five alpine events.

It is their men's worst performance since 1936, when alpine skiing was first introduced at the Winter Olympics.

"That's very disappointing for our team but we have to handle it. It's not easy," said Benjamin Raich, the most successful of the men's team in Whistler.

"It's hard to say (why the team have failed). We have trained very well and we were prepared, so that was not the problem. It was close.

Elsewhere, Germany won the women's speed-skating team pursuit title with Japan taking silver and Poland the bronze.

Pole Justyna Kowalczyk, meanwhile, claimed victory in the women's 30km cross country after a photo-finish with Marit Bjoergen, the Norwegian she accused of cheating her way to three Olympic golds.

Kowalczyk, who claimed her rival used asthma medication to fuel her triple triumph, came home in one hour 30min 33.7sec, with Bjoergen just 0.3sec behind.

She apologised for the slur Saturday.

"I am sorry, because it wasn't a good time for such a question and opinion," she said.

After losing to Canada and the United States respectively, Slovakia and Finland must pick themselves up for the bronze medal ice hockey decider.

The Slovaks staged a late comeback to scare Canada in their semi on Friday before losing 3-2, while the Finns were hit by a six-goal first-period blitz by the US and never recovered, crashing 6-1.

Date created : 2010-02-28