SOCHI, Russia: US ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White set a new world record in the short dance at the Olympics on Sunday while the gallant Jamaican bobsleigh team came down to earth with a bump.
Two-time world champions Davis and White — seeking a first ice dancing gold for the United States — skated a foxtrot and quickstep to “My Fair Lady”, scoring 78.89 points, with Monday’s free dance to come.
Reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada achieved 76.33 for their skate to “Dream a Little Dream”, “Muskrat Ramble” and “Heaven”.
It is the latest round in an ongoing rivalry on the ice going back to junior days between the two couples who train together in Detroit with Russian coach Marina Zoueva.
“Excellent is a word to describe it. I felt like I was in a dream. Everything is coming together,” said Davis.
White said: “We were just in our zone, so we could go out and skate like that. It felt awesome. When we were going out, we said, ‘Let’s do it for each other’.”
All eyes at the Sanki sliding centre were on Jamaican crowd pleasers Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon in the first two heats of the two-man bobsleigh but the underdogs could only limp in last.
The Jamaican team — whose predecessors inspired the movie “Cool Runnings” with their exploits at the 1988 Calgary Games — were out of their depth, coming 30th out of 30 sleds, with two heats still to go.
“I’m happy and overwhelmed with the Olympic atmosphere but not happy with the results,” said 46-year-old Watts, taking part in a fourth Olympics but a first since 2002.
“We’re still here, we’re still competing. Just watch us tomorrow,” he added. “I want to show the world that Jamaica is still alive. I guarantee to slide faster tomorrow, and I love you guys, I love you all.”
‘I am floating and feeling great’
Earlier, in the mountains above Sochi, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won a shock gold in the Olympic super-G as the big guns of alpine skiing again failed to fire.
Jansrud mastered the challenging course in a time of 1min 18.14sec to claim gold, with American Andrew Weibrecht taking silver. US veteran Bode Miller and Jan Hudec of Canada tied for bronze.
“I am floating and feeling great. I wasn’t nervous at the start but things got a little too exciting when Andrew Weibrecht was going down,” said Jansrud.
“It means the world to me. It’s the biggest thing you can win. It’s something I have worked for since I was a little kid, so I am just going to enjoy it,” added the Norwegian.
By winning bronze Miller, the 36-year-old five-time Olympian, became the oldest alpine skier to win a medal — less than a year after his younger brother died.
“Thanks for all the support. Today was one of the most emotional days of my life. I miss my brother,” tweeted Miller.
The top men’s alpine skiers have failed to produce the goods at the Sochi Games, with Austria’s Matthias Mayer taking gold in the downhill and unfancied Sandro Viletta winning the super-combined.
In speed skating, Dutch athlete Jorien ter Mors smashed the Olympic record to take women’s 1,500m gold as the Netherlands swept the top four places, tightening their iron grip on the competition.
The Netherlands have turned Sochi’s Adler Arena orange, winning 16 of 24 medals on offer and taking five golds out of eight, leaving their rivals in the shade.
In the women’s snowboard cross, Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic stormed to victory and Sweden took gold in the men’s 4x10km cross country relay.
The 15km mass start biathlon was postponed until Monday due to fog.
In the men’s ice hockey competition favourites Canada, Russia and United States all won their preliminary round matches.