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Olympic downhill king: Austria’s Mayer

  • Austria's Matthias Mayer finishes to win the gold in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

    Austria's Matthias Mayer finishes to win the gold in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

  • Austria's Matthias Mayer celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

    Austria's Matthias Mayer celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

  • Austria's gold medalist Matthias Mayer jumps during the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

    Austria's gold medalist Matthias Mayer jumps during the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates after winning the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates after winning the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates at the end of her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Anderson won the gold medal.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates at the end of her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Anderson won the gold medal. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

  • Irene Wust of the Netherlands waves to the crowd after the women's 3000-meter speedskating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Irene Wust of the Netherlands waves to the crowd after the women's 3000-meter speedskating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

  • Irene Wust of the Netherlands makes her way around a turn during the women's 3000m speed skating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Irene Wust of the Netherlands makes her way around a turn during the women's 3000m speed skating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

  • Evgeni Plushenko of Russia gestures to spectators as he leaves the ice after competing in the men's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)

    Evgeni Plushenko of Russia gestures to spectators as he leaves the ice after competing in the men's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)

  • Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

    Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

  • Jamie Anderson of the United States takes a jump on her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Jamie Anderson of the United States takes a jump on her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

  • Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Austria's Matthias Mayer finishes to win the gold in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
  • Austria's Matthias Mayer celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
  • Austria's gold medalist Matthias Mayer jumps during the men's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates after winning the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates at the end of her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Anderson won the gold medal.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Irene Wust of the Netherlands waves to the crowd after the women's 3000-meter speedskating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
  • Irene Wust of the Netherlands makes her way around a turn during the women's 3000m speed skating competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Wust went on to win the gold medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
  • Evgeni Plushenko of Russia gestures to spectators as he leaves the ice after competing in the men's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)
  • Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
  • Jamie Anderson of the United States takes a jump on her final run in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia competes in the women's team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

SOCHI, Russia – Matthias Mayer shut his eyes for a moment, his day’s work over.

If he had trouble believing what had just happened as he stood before the crowd, it was with good reason. The Austrian struck a big upset yesterday in one of the Olympics’ marquee events, capturing the men’s downhill and upending the elite of his sport.

“It’s amazing to be an Olympic champion,” he said.

Mayer has never finished better than fifth in a World Cup downhill. That proved no obstacle in dismissing the preordained favorites – Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished fourth and Bode Miller of the U.S. eighth.

In a country where skiing is revered, Mayer gave Austria a jolt. A few weeks ago he was not even considered the nation’s best shot for gold. But he covered the Rosa Khutor course in 2:06.23 and beat Italy’s Christof Innerhofer by 0.06 seconds. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won the bronze. Miller, who dominated the training runs, was so unnerved by the change of visibility he thought he’d have “to do something magical to win.” That was left to Mayer, who enjoys good skiing bloodlines – his father, Helmut, won a super-G silver medal at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Among the eight gold medalists on Day 3 were: snowboarder Jamie Anderson, the American slopestyle queen who triumphed in her sport’s Olympic debut; Irene Wust, who showed why speedskating is Dutch territory; and Russia in team figure skating, likewise an Olympic newcomer, for its first gold in Sochi.

Figure skating

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 silver medalist Canada and the U.S., which took bronze. 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.”

Snowboarding

The U.S. now has a double gold hit in slopestyle, with Anderson doing her part a day after Sage Kotsenburg. “Even though it’s just another competition, the stage and the outreach that this event connects to is out of control,” Anderson said. Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi won the silver. The bronze went to Jenny Jones, a 33-year-old former maid at a ski resort who gave Britain its first medal in any snow sport.

Speedskating

Another royal visit, more Dutch gold. Wust gave the Netherlands its second victory by winning the 3,000. Skating before her king and queen, Wust won in 4:00.34. 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

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 1:08:15.4. Defending champion Marcus Hellner of Sweden took silver, with the bronze to Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby.

Biathlon

Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina matched her gold from Vancouver in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. Kuzmina shot flawlessly and finished in 21:06.8. The silver medal went to Russia’s Olga Vilukhina and the bronze to Ukraine’s Vita Semerenko.

Ski jumping

Kamil Stoch of Poland made his first Olympic medal a gold one, winning the men’s normal hill individual ski jump after a stunning first-round jump put him in control. Down the hill last among 50 starters in the first round, this season’s World Cup leader had a jump of 105.5 meters, four meters better than Anders Bardal of Norway. Peter Prevc of Slovenia, the 2013 world champion, overtook Bardal in the second round to take the silver. Bardal settled for the bronze.

Luge

German Felix Loch won his second straight Olympic gold medal in men’s luge, finishing four runs down the Sanki Sliding Center track in 3:27.526. Russia’s Albert Demchenko won the silver and Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler took bronze, his record sixth Olympic luge medal.

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