Dominant Czech Samkova wins cross gold

Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:03am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Czech Eva Samkova's searing pace helped her avoid the rough and tumble of the pack and dominate the snowboarding cross final on Sunday to win her country's first gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.

The 20-year-old, sporting a red, white and blue moustache drawn on her top lip, had the best time in the morning seedings runs and ran away with her quarter and semi-finals over the jumps and rollers of the Extreme Park course.

There was to be no change in the final and she had established a lead of some 10 meters by the time she was a third of the way down the hill.

Coming through a slight wobble at one turn around halfway, she held her nerve over the huge final hill to cross the line well clear of the field.

Tears of joy flowed as Samkova waited to be led to the podium as her country's first Olympic champion in a snowboard event.

"I just listen to my coach, I just want to be the best and get the maximum from my movement. It's just physics, that's all," she said, before adding of her distinctive good luck charm:

"It's a lucky moustache. Today it's in national colors."

Canadian Dominique Maltais claimed silver to add to the bronze she won in Turin eight years ago, saying she had been determined to have "no regrets" in Sochi after crashing badly and failing to reach the final in Vancouver in 2010.   Continued...

First placed Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic celebrates after the women's snowboard cross finals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez