Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze shared women’s downhill gold in the first dead heat in Olympic skiing history as Russia took the figure skating pairs title thanks to a mesmerising performance from Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.
Under piercing blue skies on the mountains at Rosa Khutor, Slovenia’s Maze, racing 13 bibs after Swiss racer Gissin, matched the long-time leader’s time of 1min 41.57sec.
Switzerland’s Lara Gut took bronze but pre-race favourite Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, who won the super-combined on Monday, failed in her bid for a fourth Olympic gold.
“This is incredible. I am overwhelmed with emotions,” said a tearful Gisin, 28. “I am so happy – what a day. I don’t think I even dreamt about this.”
Maze was up on Gisin’s time at all four intermediate splits but a small mistake on the final section slowed the 30-year-old fractionally.
“I have been dreaming about this since I was little,” said Maze, who climbed onto the podium hand-in-hand with Gisin.
“The first ski race I ever won in my life was a downhill so before I went down the track today I said to myself, ‘This has to be it. I can do it’, and I just went for it.”
The dead heat was the eighth time in Winter Olympic history that a gold was shared.
Russia were facing growing public and media pressure after a sluggish start to the Games, but the host nation breathed a sigh of relief after world champions Volosozhar and Trankov claimed a second gold for themselves and the hosts when they led a home 1-2 in pairs figure skating.
Already team gold medallists, Volosozhar and Trankov led all the way to seal the title ahead of teammates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov with Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy taking their second Olympic bronze.
Trankov, 30, fell to his knees with his fists clinched above his head after their performance to the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar as Volosozhar, 27, buried her face in her hands with tears in her eyes.
Skaters from the Soviet Union and Russia won 12 straight titles until the 2010 Vancouver Games when they failed to medal.
“Today was a big day for all of Russia,” said Trankov. “Now I think Russian pairs are the elite skaters in the world.”
Trankov wore golden trousers and Volosozhar a gold dress.
“I changed my dress especially for the Olympics. I wanted to make it gold,” she explained. “It was our ice today, we felt at home. It was a crazy night.”
Kaitlyn Farrington upset three former Olympic champions, including Australia’s Torah Bright, to take women’s halfpipe snowboarding gold.
The American had failed to make the final directly from the heats, needing a second chance semi-final to progress, but produced a stunning second run to score 91.75.
Bright, the Vancouver 2010 winner, missed out on gold by just 0.25 while veteran Salt Lake City 2002 champion Kelly Clark, 30, took bronze with a score of 90.75.
That meant that Turin 2006 gold medallist Hannah Teter missed out on another medal by just 0.25 to her American compatriot.
Germany’s Eric Frenzel kept his cool amid spring-like temperatures to storm to gold in the nordic combined while the Netherlands won a fourth gold in five speedskating events when former world champion Stefan Groothuis claimed the men’s 1000m.
Groothuis beat Canada’s Denny Morrison into second place with Dutchman Michel Mulder, who won the 500m gold on Monday, in third.
America’s Shani Davis, seeking a third consecutive gold, was a disappointing eighth.
German world champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the men’s luge doubles for their country’s third gold in three luge events.
World Cup winners Wendl and Arlt clocked a combined time of one min 38.933 sec after two runs to finish 0.522sec ahead of Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, the reigning two-time Olympic champions.
Latvian brothers Andris and Juris Sics, who grabbed silver at Vancouver in 2001, finished in third.
On Sunday, Germany’s Felix Loch had won the men’s singles gold while Natalie Geisenberger added the women’s title on Tuesday.