Sochi Olympics: Flier Mayer wins men's Downhill
Austrian Matthias Mayer conquered the treacherous Rosa Khutor run at Russia's Winter Olympics on Sunday to win the men's downhill, while the host nation was eyeing its first gold medal of the Games in the inaugural figure skating team event.
On the second day of full competition on Russia's Black Sea coast, Mayer claimed one of the Sochi Games' biggest titles, as pre-race favourites American Bode Miller and Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal failed to make the podium.
Son of 1988 super-G silver medallist Helmut, Mayer edged out Italy's Christof Innerhofer by 0.06 seconds on an overcast day in the Caucasus mountains.
"It's crazy. It's the greatest thing you can achieve as a sportsman - unbelievable," said the 23-year-old.
Image: Matthias Mayer of Austria celebrates after winning gold medal
Photographs: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Hosting Games had helped shelter the country from economic crisis
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his reputation on staging a successful Games, said hosting the event had helped shelter the country from economic crisis.
Allegations of widespread corruption have dogged the huge seven-year infrastructure project, and with a price tag of more than $50 billion, it is the most expensive Olympics ever.
"It is fully justified to say that the Olympic project, the Olympic construction work as a whole, was one of the most significant anti-crisis measures in the country," Putin said in comments to state TV broadcaster, Rossiya 24, aired on Sunday.
Putin says there is no evidence of major corruption in Sochi, but a recent survey by independent pollster Levada showed 47 percent of Russians believe the cost of the Games has soared because funds have been embezzled or mismanaged.
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Wust wins women's 3,000 metre
On the ice, Irene Wust of the Netherlands won the women's 3,000 metre Olympic crown, but the biggest roar went to Olga Graf who finished a surprise third to give the host nation its first medal.
Graf punched the air in delight upon realising her time but her expression turned to embarrassment soon after as she unzipped her suit to the waist before suddenly realising and grabbing the zip edges to protect her modesty.
"I heard the crowd cheering for me and I didn't expect such support from the audience," said the skater, before addressing her wardrobe malfunction.
"I totally forgot that I had nothing under my suit," she said, her steely focus disintegrating into a broad smile.
Putin congratulated his compatriot: "I am sure your success will boost the spirit of the Russian Olympians and give them added strength and confidence," he said.
Image: Irene Wust
Photographs: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Cologna surged to surprise victory
Russia's best chance of gold on Sunday was in figure skating, after debutante Julia Lipnitskaya, 15, blew away more illustrious rivals with her short skate on Saturday and put the hosts within striking distance of the Olympic team title.
Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna surged to surprise victory in the men's skiathlon and Jamie Anderson clinched the inaugural women's snowboarding slopestyle gold after compatriot Sage Kotsenburg matched the feat in the men's event on Saturday.
Jenny Jones claimed the bronze -- Britain's first Olympic medal in a snow event.
Image: Dario Cologna celebrates after winning men's skiathlon
Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters
Organisers said many ticket holders were not getting into venues because they were turning up too late, explaining some of the thousands of empty seats at skating and skiing events.
Even at the men's downhill there were several hundred vacant places in the stands at the bottom of the fearsome piste.
"The downhill is the king of the sport so I don't know what's going on. The Russians have no downhill skiers, that's the problem here," said Austria's 1980 Olympic champion Leonhard Stock, surveying stands that were more than half-empty only minutes before the scheduled start of the race.
Other venues have been far from full, and organisers urged ticket holders to turn up early because a sizeable number were not getting through security in time.
"A lot of people need to understand what the time for them to travel is (to the competitions)," Sochi Games spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina told reporters.
"We are tying to alert people... to come in advance," she said, adding that the fact that around 10 percent of ticket-holders were missing their competitions was not necessarily down to the tight security at the Sochi Games.
She said 92 percent of tickets on offer on Saturday had been sold, while attendance was 81 percent.
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters