Sochi Winter Olympics: Medals race heating up

SOCHI, Russia

American Erin Hamlin won bronze in women's luge, marking the first time that an American, male or female, had medaled in the 50 years of Olympic singles luge competition. U.S. individual sliders had been fourth on three occasions at the Olympics, but never any better.

The New York native finished 0.236 seconds behind Germany's Tatjana Huefner in the race for silver, but held off Canada's Alex Gough by 0.433 seconds for the final spot on the flower stand. It was the fifth Olympic medal for USA Luge, the first four - two silvers and two bronzes - coming in doubles races.

Germany's Natalie Geisenberger took the gold - posting the second-largest victory margin in Olympic history. Her final time was 3 minutes, 19.768 seconds, 1.139 seconds better than German teammate Huefner, the 2010 gold medalist.

Kate Hansen of La Cañada Flintridge was 10th for the U.S., and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., placed 15th. They were both making their Olympic debuts.

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Earlier in the day, Devin Logan of the United States won the silver in women's slopestyle skiing. Logan's medal-winning sprint included a frontside, 720-degree spin in which the 20-year-old, who is coming off a second torn ACL knee surgery, gamely held on while landing.

Canada's Dara Howell was the winner of the slopestyle with teammate Kim Lamarre getting the bronze.

Howell unleashed a switch-900 - an off-axis spin that includes 2 ½ rotations - during a run that finished with a score of 94.20, trouncing the rest of the field on a warm and sometimes frightening day.

In disappointing news, two-time gold medalist Shaun White failed to get his third gold in the men's halfpipe competition on Tuesday. White, the best snowboarder of his era, didn't even win a medal -- he finished fourth.

The 27-year-old American, who opted out of the Olympic slopestyle debut and put all his chips in the halfpipe, where he hoped to win a third straight gold medal, got knocked off by Iouri Podladtchikov, the Russian-born inventor of the trick that White could not master.

The Japanese pair of Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won silver and bronze, and the Americans were shockingly shut out on the halfpipe for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.

White landed Podladtchikov's "Yolo" (You Only Live Once) trick twice in qualifying events and was listed as the heavy favorite to become the seventh person to win three straight gold medals in an individual event at the Winter Games.

"I'm disappointed," White said. "I hate the fact I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It's hard to be consistent."

White's first attempt at the Yolo ended with a fall straight on his backside. For some reason, he tried to pull off another of his double-cork tricks but missed that, too - his board and backside getting caught on the lip of the pipe in an awkward and certainly painful fall. His second attempt wasn't exactly smooth either.

Kikkan Randall of the U.S. has failed in her attempt to become the first American woman to win an Olympic cross-country skiing medal. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the women's individual freestyle sprint. Randall only finished fourth of six skiers in a tough heat that featured the event's defending champion.

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A look at Tuesday's events:

CROSS-COUNTRY: Norway's Ola Vigen Hattestad captured the men's sprint title in a race marred by a three-skier collision. Teodor Peterson of Sweden finished 1.2 seconds behind for silver. And Emil Joensson of Sweden, who had all but given up earlier in the race, grabbed the bronze after Sergey Ustiugov of Russia, Marcus Hellner of Sweden and Anders Gloeersen of Norway were involved in a crash that left them sprawled across the course. In the women's freestyle sprint, Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway took the gold, with teammate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg earning silver and Vesna Fabjan of Slovenia won the bronze.

SPEEDSKATING: Lee Sang-hwa won the women's 500 meters and set an Olympic record of 37.28 seconds in her second race, beating the mark of 37.30 set by Catriona Le May Doan at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Her combined time of 1 minute, 14.70 seconds also was an Olympic record, beating Le May Doan's mark of 1:14.75. Olga Fatkulina of Russia won the silver, and Margot Boer of the Netherlands got the bronze.

BIATHLON: Darya Domracheva of Belarus led for most of the women's 10-kilometer pursuit race, missing only the last target before finishing in 29 minutes, 30.7 seconds. Tora Berger of Norway took silver, and Teja Gregorin of Slovenia claimed the bronze.

SKI JUMPING: Carina Vogt won the first gold medal in women's ski jumping. The 22-year-old German overcame heavy favorite Sara Takanashi, the World Cup leader in the sport who ended up a disappointing fourth. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria took silver and Colin Mattell of France earned bronze.

SLOPESTYLE SKIING: Dara Howell won gold with a score of 94.20, trouncing the rest of the field, and Kim Lamarre earned bronze to give the Canadians seven medals in four days of snowboarding and freestyle skiing, including three events in which they took two of the top three spots. American Devin Logan, who is from West Dover, Ver. but now lives in Oceanside, Calif., took silver.

LUGE: In women's singles luge, Germany's Natlie Geisenberger and Tatjana Fuefner took gold and silver, respectively, and Team USA's Erin Hamlin took bronze (the first singles luge medal ever for the U.S.). This marked the first time in Olympic women's luge history that three world champions stood side by side on the podium.

SNOWBOARDING: In men's halfpipe finals, 25-year-old Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland took gold, 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano of Japan took silver and 18-year-old Taku Hiraoka of Japan took bronze. Two-time gold medalist Shaun White failed to get his third gold in the men's halfpipe competition and didn't even medal -- finishing fourth with a 90.25.

FIGURE SKATING: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took the lead Tuesday in the Olympic pairs competition after the short program, putting them in position to win another figure skating gold medal for host Russia. The reigning world champions scored 84.17 points, 4.53 ahead of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany going into Wednesday's free skate. Fellow Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were third.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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