SOCHI, Russia — Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin took different paths on an Olympic downhill filled with flats and turns, jumps and bumps, across slender trees’ shadows, along snow that was icy at the top, soft at the bottom.
Any variable could have made the slightest difference over the more than 1½ miles. Gisin, the eighth woman down the Rosa Khutor course, was good enough early and fantastic at the end. A half-hour later, starting 20th, Maze followed a tighter line, faster than Gisin most of the way, until slowed by a mistake shortly before the final leap.
Add it all up, and they were each other’s equal Wednesday. Exactly, right down to the hundredth of a second. Gisin finished in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. Maze finished in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. A tie. And so two gold medals were awarded, the first time that’s happened in 78 years of Olympic Alpine skiing.
“It’s just that lower of a tuck or that cleaner of a line that makes you that much faster,” said American Laurenne Ross, who finished 11th Wednesday.
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In a field missing injured defending champion Lindsey Vonn, Gisin’s Swiss teammate Lara Gut got the bronze, 0.10 seconds back.
During the flower ceremony, Maze and Gisin held hands while they climbed together to the top step of the podium, a scene Maze described as “two happy faces.”
Davis denied third 1,000-meter gold
Speedskater Shani Davis could have cemented his place in Olympic history. A gold medal in Wednesday’s 1,000 meters meant joining Bonnie Blair as the only Americans to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Games.
Instead, the Chicago native remained with the current U.S. speedskating team in Sochi: too slow.
Davis clocked in at 1:09.12 at Sochi’s Adler Arena Skating Center, 0.73 behind winner Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands, good enough for eighth but hardly good enough for the top-ranked skater in the world.
“There’s no excuse,” Davis said. “I just simply didn’t have the speed and the lap, and that’s something that I’ve always had over my competitors.”
Even at 31 he was the overwhelming favorite. He had won three of four World Cup races coming in, and his world record of 1:06.42 has stood for nearly five years.
“This one hurts me a lot, but kudos to the people who were able to go out there and achieve their dreams,” Davis said. “It’s a great feeling.”
“I’m pretty sad — not about making history, but winning the medal — more than anything,” he said. “I’ll just have to get over it quick because in a few days I have a 1,500-meter race, and I’m going to try and win a medal there.”
It could be his last opportunity to win an individual medal. Davis reiterated Wednesday that he’ll stop when his body tells him to.
He will be 35 for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Only six skaters that age have won Olympic medals. That includes two men, most recently Rintje Ritsma of The Netherlands, who was 36 in 2006.
In other events
• Canada defeated the U.S. in women’s hockey 3-2 in a preview of the expected gold-medal match. Meghan Agosta scored twice for Canada and assisted on Hayley Wickenheiser’s goal. This was the fifth time these teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women’s hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. In the day’s other game, Finland beat Switzerland 4-3.
• In men’s hockey, Sweden showed off its deep offensive talent in its Olympic opener, getting two goals from Erik Karlsson and one from Henrik Zetterberg in a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic. Switzerland also won, but needed a late deflection to beat Latvia 1-0. The Swiss scored with 7.9 seconds left, and Simon Moser was credited with the goal that appeared to carom off a Latvian player in front of the net.
• Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov maintained Russia’s long tradition in pairs, winning gold in their home Olympics. Teammates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took silver. Russia or the Soviet Union had won gold in 12 straight Olympics in the event before the streak ended four years ago. “I think tonight all of the country will celebrate this beautiful victory,” Trankov said.
• China’s curlers kept up their surprise run by beating Switzerland and Germany, leaving the team at the top of the standings with four straight wins. With Sweden (3-1) losing to Denmark 8-5 in the evening session, Norway (3-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the competition after defeating Germany 8-5 in the morning.
On the women’s side, undefeated Canada downed Britain 9-6 in a match that went down to the final stone and sent the U.S. to the edge of elimination. The Canadians joined Switzerland in first place at 3-0.