Evan Lysacek ends Yevgeny Plushenko's Olympic reign

Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:42pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - American Evan Lysacek glided to Olympic gold in men's figure skating on Thursday in a stunning upset of Russian Yevgeny Plushenko's pursuit of back-to-back titles.

It was a crushing blow for Plushenko, who had come out of retirement to rescue Russian skating, and to his nation, a traditional winter sports powerhouse clamoring for more than one gold medal six days into the Winter Games.

The surprising men's free skate final capped a day dominated by the women, who served up a few surprises themselves.

Germany's Maria Riesch came back from a disappointing downhill to win the women's super combined crown after American Lindsey Vonn tumbled and ruined her bid for a second Olympic gold medal in two days.

Over on the snowboard halfpipe, Australia's Torah Bright sliced her way to her country's first gold of these Games and speedskater Christine Nesbitt picked up the third gold for host nation Canada.

Another woman helped her country reach an Olympic milestone when Norwegian biathlete Tora Berger skied and shot her way to the country's 100th Winter Games gold, the first nation to achieve that mark.

Her team mate Emil Hegle Svendsen, however, quickly made that 101 in the men's biathlon 20 km individual.

Thursday was also a good day for beleaguered organizers, with no new reports of operational snags after a string of problems, ranging from million-dollar ticketholder refunds to unreliable ice grooming machines.   Continued...

<p>Gold medallist Evan Lysacek of the U.S. waves his country's flag after the men's free skating figure skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>