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Stoch takes men’s normal hill gold

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch wasn’t feeling too good early Sunday.

By the end of the day, with a little help from doctors and an Olympic gold medal in the men’s normal hill, he was feeling just fine.

“When I woke up I felt a headache and I had a high temperature, but the doctors did everything they could do bring me to life and they did,” Stoch said. “They did a good job, so thanks to them.”

Jumping last in both rounds, the World Cup leader and winner of four World Cup events this season had marks of 105.5 meters and 103.5 meters, the best jumps in both rounds.

Peter Prevc of Slovenia took the silver and Anders Bardal of Norway the bronze.

The 26-year-old Stoch won by 12.7 points, the fourth- largest margin of victory in a men’s normal hill at the Winter Games. It was Poland’s first Olympic ski jumping gold medal since Wojciech Fortuna won the large hill at the 1972 Olympics.

“I feel like it’s really not happened to me. Did this really happen?” Stoch said.

Stoch’s coach Lukasz Kruczek said it nearly didn’t.

“The whole day was crazy,” Kruczek said. “The first information was that Kamil was ill. So we’ve been fighting every hour to make him better.”

Prevc was pleased with second.

“I’m still collecting the best memories of my life,” Prevc said. “My performance today was one of the best. I was struggling during training.”

Thomas Morgenstern of Austria, returning from serious injuries from a fall during training a month ago, was 14th. Simon Amman of Switzerland, the defending champion from Vancouver in 2010 and who was seeking a record fifth Olympic gold medal, finished 17th.

It was another disappointing result by Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer, the 2010 bronze medalist, who finished 11th Sunday. He has a record 52 World Cup victories, two Olympic bronzes but no gold.

“I’m really disappointed because the whole year I was talking about the Olympic Games and I couldn’t get the best possible result,” he said, crying. “The technique wasn’t very good and my form was not stable for the whole season.”

While the 7,500-seat stadium had only several hundred spectators for some of the training sessions, thousands crowded into the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center for the gold final.

Russian flags were most prominent, but there were also many fans from the jumping-mad countries of Poland, Austria and Slovenia. The locals cheered when word got around the venue that Russia had won its first gold of the games in team figure skating down on the coast.

Three Americans who qualified for the final didn’t make it into the second round when the field was cut to 31. They were Nicholas Alexander of Brattleboro, Vermont (34th place), Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake, N.Y. (45th) and Anders Johnson of Park City, Utah (47th).

Earlier Sunday, Robert Kranjec of Slovenia withdrew from the final after suffering a knee injury in a landing fall during the qualification round on Saturday.

The men’s next gold medal is in the large hill on Saturday, followed by the team large hill on Feb. 17.

FIGURE SKATING

RUSSIA TAKES TEAM TITLE

With Evgeni Plushenko and a captivating Julia Lipnitskaia winning the free skates, Russia took the team event without needing to worry about the concluding ice dance. President Vladimir Putin was among those in a crowd relishing this victory as the Russians drew away from the U.S. and Canada. Plushenko’s body has been battered by 12 operations and he had to convince his federation he merited a spot in Sochi. “All the fans are cheering so hard that you literally cannot do badly because they do everything with you,” Plushenko said. “You get goose bumps.”

SPEEDSKATING

WUST TAKES 3,000

Another royal visit, more Dutch gold. Irene Wust gave the Netherlands its second victory by winning the 3,000. Skating before her king and queen, Wust won in 4 minutes, 0.34 seconds. Defending champ Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic took the silver while Olga Graf won bronze for Russia’s first medal of the games. Claudia Pechstein, 41 and a six-time Olympian, was fourth. Wust, her nails red, white and blue like the Dutch flag, held up three fingers, signifying her third Olympic gold medal.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

COLOGNA VICTORIOUS

Switzerland’s Dario Cologna had ankle surgery in November, but that now seems ancient. He won the 30-kilometer skiathlon, pulling away at the top of the last uphill section. The three-time overall World Cup winner claimed his second Olympic gold medal. He was timed in 1 hour, 8 minutes, 15.4 seconds. Defending champion Marcus Hellner of Sweden took silver, with the bronze to Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby.

BIATHLON

KUZMINA REPEATS

Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina matched her gold from Vancouver in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. Kuzmina shot flawlessly and finished in 21 minutes, 6.8 seconds. The silver medal went to Russia’s Olga Vilukhina and the bronze to Ukraine’s Vita Semerenko. Kuzmina’s brother is Russian biathlete Anton Shipulin, who was fourth Saturday.

LUGE

LOCH DOMINATES FIELD

Felix Loch, still only 24, did it again. The German luger won his second straight Olympic gold medal, leaving the rest of the field in his icy wake. Loch completed four runs down the Sanki Sliding Center track in 3 minutes, 27.562 seconds — 0.476 seconds ahead of Russia’s Albert Demchenko, who won the silver in his seventh Olympics. Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler won the bronze, giving him a record six medals in six games.

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