Hockey heartache for hosts, Ukraine violence shocks Games

Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:27pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia fell to Finland in the big men's hockey clash at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, robbing the hosts of a shot at the gold they covet most, while athletes and officials reacted with shock to the deaths of protesters in neighboring Ukraine.

The roar of the home fans at the Bolshoy Ice Dome was not enough to inspire the team to victory over Finland, who have been on the podium in four of the last five Olympics.

Finland won 3-1 in a result that took some of the wind out of home sails at Russia's first Winter Games.

Hockey heavyweights Canada and the United States advanced to meet in one of Friday's semi-finals, beating Latvia and the Czech Republic respectively, while top seeds Sweden saw off Slovenia 5-0 and will meet Finland.

At the adjacent Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, 15-year-old figure skater Julia Lipnitskaya, who mesmerized the Games with her performance in the team event, fell in the short program to add to the host nation's heartache.

She looked devastated as she left the ice, and ahead of Thursday's free skating program, she is placed fourth. Defending champion Kim Yuna leads.

On Wednesday eight gold medals were decided.

They included the men's giant slalom, which Ted Ligety won convincingly to claim the first U.S. Alpine skiing gold of the Games. Thick fog, rain and snow that made skiing so difficult over the last two days had lifted, and conditions were clear.   Continued...

Finland's Teemu Selanne (L) scores on Russia's goalie Semyon Varlamov (C) during the first period of their men's quarter-finals ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder