PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — David Gleirscher struggled to make Austria’s Olympic team. Chris Mazdzer’s season hit rock-bottom less than a month ago.

Didn’t matter.

They stood higher than anyone else atop the men’s luge podium Sunday, as the reign of Germany’s Felix Loch as Olympic champion came to a slippery, stunning and sudden end.

Gleirscher, who has never finished higher than fourth in a World Cup event, was the surprise first-run leader – and a bigger surprise as the leader when it was all over. He finished his four runs in 3 minutes, 10.702 seconds for the gold, Austria’s first in men’s luge in 50 years.

Mazdzer made history for the U.S., giving the Americans their first men’s singles medal by finishing second in 3:10.728. Germany’s Johannes Ludwig took third in 3:10.932.

Loch was supposed to be a lock for a third consecutive gold medal. But he skidded during his final run and wound up in fifth place.


BIATHLON: The two-man battle between Martin Fourcade and Johannes Thingnes Boe for Olympic gold never materialized.

When neither landed on the medal podium Sunday in the 10K sprint, it sent shockwaves through the biathlon world.

Fourcade, a Frenchman ranked No. 1 in the world, missed three of five shots from prone position, forcing him to do three penalty laps. He finished eighth.

Thingnes Boe, ranked No. 2, was even farther behind. The Norwegian missed three targets from prone position and one from standing position and wound up 31st, more than a minute behind the leader.

No one was more stunned than Germany’s Arnd Peiffer, who took home the gold medal after hitting all 10 of his targets.

“I don’t know how this could happen,” Peiffer said. “The other two guys, Martin and Johannes, they were dominating the whole season. They were dominating with their ski time; they were dominating on the range as well. So I didn’t expect it was possible to be in front of them. I’m quite surprised.”


Michal Krcmar of the Czech Republic also hit all of his targets and placed second, and Dominik Windisch of Italy was third.

Lowell Bailey, the only U.S. biathlete to win gold at the world championships, was the top American in 33rd place. Maine’s Russell Currier was not one of the four Americans selected to race.

ALPINE SKIING: The women’s giant slalom was postponed because of strong wind, again delaying the start of the Alpine competition.

A new date was not announced immediately.

The race that was supposed to open the Alpine schedule Sunday, the men’s downhill, was moved to Thursday because of dangerous wind.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Kendall Coyne scored the go-ahead goal at 11:29 of the second period and the United States rallied to beat Finland 3-1 in its opening game.


Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Dani Cameranesi also scored as the Americans improved to 6-0 in Olympic openers.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Simen Hegstad Krueger crashed and fell on the first lap, but that couldn’t stop him from winning Olympic gold.

The 24-year-old Norwegian completed an amazing comeback to win the 30-kilometer skiathlon, crossing the line in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 20 seconds.

Norway swept the podium, with Martin Johnsrud Sundby taking silver and Hans Christer Holund earning bronze.

MOGULS: Perrine Laffont put France in the medals column, skiing through the bumps and snow to give her country its first women’s gold medal in the 26-year history of the event.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada finished second to add silver to the gold she took four years ago in Sochi. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan, competing with a broken hand, won bronze.


SPEEDSKATING: There is just no stopping Sven Kramer over 5,000 meters at the Olympics.

The Dutch skater won his third straight gold medal in the distance, and he set an Olympic record.

Kramer also gave the Netherlands its second gold medal in as many races at the Olympic oval. This time, though, it was no sweep like in the women’s 3,000.

Kramer’s two other teammates disappointed and finished outside the top six.

Instead, Dutch-born Canadian Ted-Jan Bloemen fought back with a desperate drive to the line to kick his skate just in front of Sverre Lunde Pedersen and beat the Norwegian by .0002 seconds for silver.

While others were counting in thousandths of seconds, Kramer was aiming higher, beating his rivals by 1.85 seconds. Skating last as the favorite, he knew what time to chase for gold.

“Of course, it makes a difference if you know the times beforehand, but you still have to do it,” Kramer said.

The Dutchman used his typical late kick to make the difference, taking the lead two-thirds of the way through the race and letting his massive stride do the rest to finish in 6 minutes, 9.76 seconds, beating the Olympic record he set four years ago at the Sochi Games by exactly one second.

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