Winter Olympics: Old master Defago makes experience count in blue riband triumph
Published 17/02/2010 | 05:00
Switzerland's Didier Defago became the oldest winner of the men's downhill skiing as the delayed blue riband event of the Winter Olympics finally got under way on Whistler Mountain.
Mo Tae-Bum celebrated his 21st birthday by claiming a first gold for South Korea in the men's 500 metres speed skating at Richmond Olympic Oval.
And in the pairs figure skating, China's Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao finally converted bronze into gold in their third Olympics.
In the rescheduled and much anticipated men's downhill skiing race, Defago, 18th on the start list, made his vast experience count as he clocked one minute 54.31 seconds to set a mark that proved beyond his rivals.
Monthey-born Defago (32) then watched as his countrymen -- pre-race favourite Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka -- offered no threat.
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal took the silver medal with a time of 1min 54.38secs and American extrovert Bode Miller claimed the bronze in 1:54.40.
The 32-year-old Defago, who shot to stardom when he completed the famed Wengen-Kitzbuehel double last season, said: "I think my experience made a bit of difference."
The speed skating was disrupted by a long delay during the race one programme due to problems with the ice repairing machines at Richmond Olympic Oval. But when racing resumed it was Mo who emerged victorious to take the gold medal with a time of 69.82.
In the figure skating pairs, it was a triumphant return for Shen and Zhao, who had to settle for third in both Salt Lake City in 2002 and Torino in '06 and had quit the sport for two years. Going last and needing to score 136.66 to win they were near faultless and a 139.91 gave them a winning total of 216.57.
Meanwhile, Irishman PJ Barron (left) finished 91st place in a gruelling men's 15km individual cross- country ski. He finished a time of 43 minutes 50 seconds, over 10 minutes behind gold medal winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland.