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Bobsleigh duo boost ranking

IRELAND's women's bobsleigh team of Aoife Hoey (Laois) and Claire Bergin (Dublin) improved their international rankings by three places after finishing 17th at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

While several big-name competitors -- including the top German and British pairs -- came a cropper on the notoriously fast Whistler track, the Irish pair had a good 54.73 third run to move up to 19th place and then improved again in a final run of 54.58.

Their 17th place left them ahead of Russia 2 and two places ahead of Australia 1.

"After all the legal fuss before the event, we feel vindicated by our results," Hoey said.

Ireland's top female skier Kirsten McGarry finished 50th in the women's Giant Slalom, moving up five places after the fog-delayed second round but still 18 seconds behind the surprise winner, Viktoria Rebensburg.

McGarry was due to compete in the women's Slalom today and Shane O'Connor is the last of the Irish team in action when he participates in the men's Slalom tomorrow.

An extraordinary day of raw human emotion saw Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen become the first triple gold medallist of the Games, and Canada won the women's ice hockey to join Germany and the USA at the top of the medal standings.

The Canadians beat the US 2-0 to trigger wild celebrations at Canada Hockey Place and add to the suffocating pressure on the men's team to emulate their feat in the final event of the Games on Sunday.

However, it was the evening figure skating which capped off another day of enthralling action across all the Games' events.

South Korea's Kim Yuna shrugged off the weight of Korean expectation to win the gold with a record total of 228.56 points, well clear of Japan's Mao Asada in second. But Canada's Joannie Rochette won most hearts by claiming a bronze medal just four days after her mother suddenly died.

"When I stepped on to the ice I knew I had to be as cold as possible. My legs were shaking but my mother was there with me, giving me strength," Rochette said after her routine.

Canada's men's ice hockey team, watching their female counterparts claim another gold for the home nation, play Slovakia in today's semi-finals, while the US face off against Finland, setting up the possibility of a north American rematch in Sunday's final.

Away from the snow, the US bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was arrested for allegedly assaulting his partner and then released to compete in today's event.

A South Korean man was also arrested in Seoul for threatening to blow up the Australian Embassy after an Australian judge disqualified the South Korean women's short-track speed-skating team on Wednesday.


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