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February 20, 2014

Russia out in men’s hockey

SOCHI, Russia — A Russian hockey team with immense expectations lost its shot at an Olympic title Wednesday at a Winter Games tempered by violence both in the host city and in nearby Ukraine.

Finland beat the Russians 3-1, knocking them out of the quarterfinals and ending their chances of winning a hockey gold medal in front of their own fans.

Defending Olympic champion Canada had a scare from upstart Latvia before a late goal sealed a 2-1 win. The U.S. advanced easily with a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. The U.S. will meet Canada and Sweden will take on Finland in Friday’s semifinals.

Another Russian with great expectations, 15-year-old figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, fell during the women’s short program and finished fifth. Defending gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea led the competition, which finishes Thursday.

American-turned Russian snowboarder Vic Wild won the men’s parallel giant slalom, minutes after his Russian wife, Alexa Zavarzina, won bronze in the women’s competition.

Earlier, Sergei Bubka, the pole vault great who heads the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, urged both sides in Ukraine’s political crisis to halt the violence that left at least 25 people dead and 240 injured in Kiev on Tuesday. The crisis centers on divided loyalties in Ukraine between Russia and the West.

“I’m shocked by what is happening in my native country — especially because the violence is taking place during the Olympic Games, the world’s most peaceful and democratic event,” Bubka said.

On Day 13 of the Sochi Olympics, Norway won the first Olympic mixed relay in biathlon, making Ole Einar Bjoerndalen the most decorated Winter Olympian ever with 13 medals; Norway also won the women’s cross-country team sprint, with Finland taking the men’s title; Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic denied the Netherlands another speedskating podium sweep.

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