Belarus wins first Olympic gold

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Alexei Grishin of Belarus won the first Winter Olympics gold medal for his country Thursday, sailing to victory in freestyle skiing aerials.

Prior to the Vancouver Olympics, competitors from Belarus had won three silver and three bronze medals in appearances at the Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City and Turin Games.

Sergey Novikov won a silver and Darya Domracheva a bronze earlier in these Games for Belarus, both coming in biathlon, but no one from that country had stepped to the top of a podium in the Winter Olympics until Grishin pulled off a breathtaking stunt in his second jump.

American Jeret Peterson finished second and China's Liu Zhongqing was third.

Peterson was fifth after his first jump and on his second he produced a dazzling effort that included five twists and three flips. His landing was not perfect, but he stayed on his feet and his two-jump score of 247.21 put him on top of the standings with four aerialists left to perform.

Peterson was still on top when Grishin's turn came and the Belarusian attempted the same jump Peterson had done. Grishin came within a point of Peterson on the jump and, because Grishin had a two-point lead after the first jump, he emerged as the winner with a total of 248.41.

Canada's Kyle Nissen had the lead after the first jump, but he finished fifth.


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