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Kazakhstan wins gold in skiing events
Denis Ten recovers, outscores for skating gold
By Vsevelod Khvan
ASTANA/ALMATY - Already far ahead in the medal count, Kazakhstan scooped up several more February 5 on the sixth day of the 7th Asian Winter Games, as well as strengthening its position as a force in team sporting events.
In the first half of the day the gold came in the women's 4 x 6km relay biathlon and 4 x 5km mixed style relay.
The skiing target shooters from Kazakhstan led by Elena Khrustaleva shut-out their competitors from Japan and China.
Much of this was thanks to the excellent shooting by Marina Lebedeva, Olga Poltaranina and Inna Mozhevitina, who outraced China by a gaping four and a half minutes. Japan took third place behind China with only a 25 second lag.
In the 4 x 5km mixed style relay the Kazakhstani team of Elena Kolomina, Oxana Yatskaya, Anastasiya Slonova and Svetlana Malakhova-Shishkina outraced Japan and China.
"For us it was important to win the relay race because we are the strongest team in Asia in this discipline. Besides which, we won the medals together - not individually.
We wanted to rehabilitate ourselves for the medals which we didn't win in individual events," Malakhova-Shishkina said after the event. "In our team I always go first in the relay," said Japanese silver medallist Madoka Natsumi, "but the plan didn't work - I wasn't able to break-out. In this kind of weather with heavy falling snow, there was a lot of energy expended."
In the men's mixed style 10km relay the Kazakhstan men's team again won with a comfortable three-minute reserve ahead of the Japanese team, who took silver with a 13-minute advantage over South Korea.
"Kazakhstan has a very strong relay team," said Naruse Nobu who raced the last relay segment for Japan. "It was difficult for us to compete with the Kazakhstani team and we have never shown strong results in the relay."
Two more gold medals were won by the Kazakhstani men's and women's ski orienteering teams. The host's advantage was enormous. In the women's event the silver went to Korea, while bronze was claimed by Mongolia. In the men's event silver went to Iran, and bronze again went to Mongolia.
But perhaps the happiest news of the day came from Astana, where in men's figure skating Denis Ten of Kazakhstan won another gold medal. Ten led with a small advantage after the short programme. In the free skating Ten's closest rival, Tatsuki Machida of Japan, made a number of serious errors which left him without a medal.
The free skating event was won by another Japanese, Takahito Mura (139.10 points), with Nan Song of China coming in second (134.56), while Ten came in third (132.67). But adding up the results of both events, Ten came out ahead with 208.89 points for the gold to Mura's 206.88 for the silver, and Nan Song's 201.10 bronze.
"I want to thank all of the Kazakhstani fans for their support," Ten said after the medal ceremony. "For two days I could feel everyone's concern and this helped me greatly."
Saturday's results bring Kazakhstan's total medal horde to 62 (29 gold, 18 silver, 15 bronze). Korea is in second place for gold medals, but third for total numbers - 33 medals (11, 11, 11). Japan has one fewer gold medal, but at 44 has more total medals (10, 20, 14). China has 29 medals (9, 8, 12), followed by Iran with 1 silver and 2 bronze medals, and Mongolia with 3 bronze medals.