Winter Olympics / Lillehammer '94: Russian pair take back title

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EKATERINA GORDEEVA and Sergei Grinkov, the 1988 gold medalists who like Torvill and Dean returned to Olympic competition from the professional ranks, won the gold medal in pairs figure skating last night with an elegant free skating program, beating their fellow Russian defending champions, Natalia Mishkutienok and Artur Dmitriev.

Gordeeva and Grinkov, drew a perfect 6.0 for artistic impression from the Russian judge, despite two mistakes by Grinkov on jumps.

Lyubov Yegorova, who has the remarkable record of never finishing outside the top two in a Winter Olympic race, collected her fourth gold medal when she won the women's five-kilometre cross-country.

The Russian, who won three titles at Albertville in 1992, is now the joint-highest gold medal winner in Olympic Nordic skiing and fourth-highest woman medal winner with seven from seven races in her two Olympics. Medals in her remaining three races in Norway would put her alongside the former Soviet skier, Raisa Smetanina, as the highest Winter Games medal-winner with 10.

She turned the tables on Manuela Di Centa, who beat her in the 15km freestyle on Sunday. She came home 19.5sec ahead of the Italian this time, with the former Olympic champion, Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi, taking the bronze to become Finland's oldest medallist in Olympic skiing at 38.

Italy's Gerda Weissensteiner broke the track record on her first run and was fastest again on the second yesterday to lead after the first day of the women's luge. Her record time of 48.740sec helped her to a two-run total of 1min 37.630sec and a lead of 0.252sec over the 1992 bronze medallist, Susi Erdmann of Germany, going into today's final two runs.

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