New Sport, More Gold For U.S. In Turin

Snowboardcross made a terrific debut in the Winter Olympics.

American snowboarding veteran Seth Wescott won the gold medal in what's been called the Olympics' most extreme sport. The boarder from Farmington, Maine, slipped into first place midway down the 3,100-foot chute and held off Slovakia's Radoslav Zidek for the win. The two were nearly side by side as they crossed the finish line.

Paul-Henri Delerue of France took the bronze.

Going into the games, Wescott was confident, CBS News' Manuel Gallegus reports.

"You need really quick footwork, really precise turns to get the job done and be fast. So it really kind of plays into my strengths," Wescott said.

Americans now have won all three gold medals awarded in snowboarding.

Also Thursday, the Winter Olympics got its first doping scandal when Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva was stripped of the silver medal she won three days earlier and kicked out of the games for doping.

In the Italian Alps, Estonian cross-country skier Kristina Smigun won her second gold of the week. And with Pyleva out of the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint, Florence Baverel-Robert of France was a surprise winner.

Later Thursday, Evgeni Plushenko of Russia was the favorite to take the men's figure skating gold after opening up a commanding lead in the short program on Tuesday. If all goes well for American favorite Johnny Weir, the U.S. will have another silver.

Medals also were being awarded in the women's skeleton and another event making its Olympic debut in Turin — speed skating team pursuit.


Check the schedule of upcoming events.
Track the current medal count here.
In related developments:
  • The U.S. men's hockey team is trying to bounce back from an opening tie against Latvia. The Americans have first-period goals from Brian Gionta, Bill Guerin and Brian Rolston, and they lead 3-to-0 after one. Canada's up on Germany 4-to-1 after two periods. Finland today shut out Italy 6-to-0 for a second straight win. Teemu Selanne scored twice.
  • Switzerland's Maya Pedersen, back in competition after taking time off to have a baby, has earned her country's first gold medal of the Turin Olympics. She slid to a win of almost one and a-quarter seconds in the women's skeleton. Britain took the silver — its first medal of the games — and bronze went to Canada. Katie Uhlaender of the U.S. was sixth.
  • Germany and Italy won the first Olympic gold medals in speedskating's team pursuit. Following the Germans in the women's competition were Canada and Russia. Canada also got the silver in the men's event, and bronze went to the Netherlands.
  • Estonia's Kristina Smigun is a two-time gold medalist at the Turin Olympics. She won the women's ten-kilometer classical cross-country race today. She'd won the 15-K pursuit on Sunday. The top American was Utah's Wendy Kay Wagner in 50th place. Alaskan Kikkan Randall was 53rd, Montana's Abby Larson 57th, and Minnesota's Lindsey Weier 59th.
  • Austria won the Nordic combined team gold. The U-S placed seventh.
  • There's a flap over the Olympic flame in Turin. The cauldron at the Olympic stadium burns a lot of gas. And officials say it will continue to do so. Environmental groups had asked that the flame be temporarily reduced or extinguished to mark the first anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Italy is also dealing with recently reduced gas supplies from Russia.
  • A man in a red-and-white ski suit called Lindsey Kildow aside Wednesday afternoon. "That was amazing," Herbert Mandl, the Austrian women's ski coach, told her. "Thanks," said Kildow, who tied for eighth in the women's downhill 48 hours after being hospitalized because of a horrific crash, that almost knocked her out of the Winter Games.
  • France, Sweden and Ukraine got the medals in the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint Thursday at the Winter Olympics. American Sarah Konrad of Laramie, Wyo., finished in the bottom half of the standings. This is the race Pyleva missed after failing the doping test. American Rachel Steer took 35th place.
  • A hastily convened, three-member IOC panel found Pyleva guilty of a doping violation. She had tested positive for the banned stimulant carphedon in a urine test following Monday's race.

    Nikolai Durmanov, head of the Russian Anti-Doping Committee, said a doctor who treated her for an ankle injury in January gave her an over-the-counter medication that did not list carphedon as one of its ingredients.

    "This was 100 percent the physician's mistake," Durmanov said.

    Martina Glagow of Germany, who finished fourth, will be awarded the silver. Albina Akhatova, Pyleva's Russian teammate, goes from fourth to bronze.

    Further possible sanctions — such as a long-term ban from competition — are up to the International Biathlon Union.

    "It's a bad thing that somebody is testing positive, but it's a good thing we got her," World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said.

    The head of Russia's biathlon federation, Alexander Tikhonov, said athletes have been told repeatedly only to use medications approved by team doctors.

    "We warned them a thousand times," he told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency. "Take only medical formulas that are in the team and come only to our doctors. I have no idea where that doctor who treated Pyleva's foot injury came from."

    Tikhonov maintained Pyleva used an "innocent" substance to accelerate healing and has no performance-enhancing properties.

    "One has to admit that all should be blamed on our illiteracy and irresponsibility," he said.

    The IOC has conducted 380 tests since the athletes' village opened Jan. 31; Pyleva is the first athlete to be caught by the IOC's most rigorous doping control program ever at a Winter Olympics. A total of 1,200 samples are being tested, a 72 percent increase over the number in Salt Lake City, where there were a total of seven doping cases.

    In Pyleva's absence, Baverel-Robert crossed the line first, followed by Anna Carin Oloffson of Sweden and Lilia Efremova of Ukraine in third.

    The race started in a heavy snowfall but the sun was shining and the San Sicario course turned slushy by the finish. Oloffsson crossed the finish line 2.4 seconds behind Baverel-Robert's time of 22 minutes, 31.4 seconds. Efremova was 6.6 seconds behind the surprise gold medalist.

    In the final race of the snowboardcross, Wescott took the lead over silver medalist Radoslav Zidek of Slovakia with a deft passing move in the middle of the course and led the rest of the way, barely beating Zidek to the finish line. Paul-Henri Delerue of France took the bronze.

    "I just knew if I was patient and confident that I'd reach the part of the course that I could work a little better, catch the speed on him," Wescott said. "Then coming into that one turn, I dove the inside line on him like clockwork. That's how it worked out."

    In the women's 10-kilometer classical cross-country race, Smigun, who won the 15K pursuit on Sunday, took the lead by the 7-kilometer mark and finished in 27:51.4, a commanding 21.3 seconds ahead of World Cup leader Marit Bjorgen of Norway. Another Norwegian, Hilde Pedersen, took the bronze.

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