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Olympics: Ukraine win emotional gold, Canada beat US in hockey semi

Ukrainian athletes won an emotional first gold of the Sochi Games for their violence-wracked nation as defending champions Canada saw off the United States in a tight ice hockey semi-final.

SOCHI, Russia: Ukrainian athletes won an emotional first gold of the Sochi Games for their violence-wracked nation on Friday as defending champions Canada saw off the United States in a tight ice hockey semi-final.

Ukraine's victorious women's biathlon team dedicated their triumph to a nation grieving over violence that has claimed dozens of lives.

The president of Ukraine's Olympic Committee, former pole vault great Sergey Bubka, said the gold medal could help unite his country and bring peace after days of clashes between security forces and protesters.

The team led from the start in the 4x6 km relay race, finishing in 1hr 10min 2.5sec, defeating second-place Russia by 26.4 seconds. Norway took the bronze.

"We are proud of them. We supported from the stands with our ribbons of grief and our flags on which were written, 'For Peace! For Ukraine!'" said Bubka.

"We dedicate this victory to all the Ukrainian people. I believe that in this hard time for the country this medal can unite us and make peace, calm and prosperity reign in Ukraine," he added.

In the crunch ice hockey semi-final at the Bolshoi Ice Dome, the USA were desperate to avenge their painful defeat at the hands of the Canadians in the final four years ago in Vancouver.

But a single goal was enough for Canada to advance to Sunday's title clash with Sweden, who earlier beat Finland 2-1.

Jamie Benn scored early in the second period and Carey Price stopped 31 shots for Canada, who are trying to win their first gold medal outside North America since 1952 in Oslo.

Under the floodlights on the mountains at Rosa Khutor, American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin showed nerves of steel to add Olympic slalom gold to her world title.

The 18-year-old, in pole position after the first run, clocked a combined total of 1min 44.54sec over two runs to finish 0.53sec ahead of Marlies Schild of Austria, who won her fourth Olympic medal over three different Games.

Another Austrian, Katrin Zettel, claimed bronze at 0.81sec, denying fourth-placed German Maria Hoefl-Riesch another podium finish in her Olympic swansong.

"This has been a dream of mine for a very long time," said Shiffrin, who at the age of 18 years and 345 days became the youngest Olympic slalom champion.

"I'm so happy to be in this position, and I couldn't be happier than to be on the podium with Marlies and Kathrin."

Earlier, Russian coaches hit back at suggestions that figure skating judges had favoured Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova.

The young Russian on Thursday dethroned South Korea's Vancouver 2010 champion Kim Yu-Na on a night of drama and controversy at the Iceberg Skating Palace, with the 5.48-point gap between the pair raising eyebrows.

On Friday, Sotnikova's choreographer Pyotr Chernyshov insisted the 17-year-old - winner of Russia's first ever women's individual figure skating gold - was a worthy champion.

"We were following the rules that the modern game was offering and we won this game," the former Russian-American ice dancer told a packed press conference.

"You have to be an expert in figure skating to know the rules now. When you ask a professional figure skater there is no doubt who won on the night."

The first doping cases to hit the 2014 Sochi Games emerged after a double gold-medal winning German female biathlete and an Italian bobsledder tested positive for banned substances.

German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who has won two gold medals at previous Olympic Games, confirmed she had tested positive, describing it as the "worst nightmare you can imagine".

The Italian Olympic Committee said Italian bobsledder William Frullani had tested positive for a banned substance and had already been kicked out of the Sochi Games.

Canada's men won their third straight curling title against Britain after their women's team Thursday beat Sweden to win their first gold since Nagano in 1998.

Russia's short track speed skater Victor Ahn won his second and third golds of the Games in the 500m and 5,000m relay and South Korea's Park Seung-Hi took the women's 1,000m title.

Ahn now has a record six gold medals in short track.

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