ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, February 22 (R-Sport) – Russia surged to the top of the Sochi medal table Saturday with men's relay gold in the biathlon, blowing to smithereens pre-Games fears that the host nation could be an also-ran.
Russian officials explicitly tried to keep a lid on domestic expectations in the run-up to the Games, with poor world cup and world championship performances by its athletes hinting at a possible repeat of the Vancouver 2010 flop of three golds.
But the home team quartet of Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyugov, Dmitry Malyshko and Anton Shipulin took the running total to 11 on Saturday, matching the country's record of 20 years ago in Lillehammer.
The overall haul of 29 medals of any color equals the record amount won by the Soviets in 1988.
Russia has a chance to finish the Games in the No. 1 position with Viktor Zubkov hoping to repeat his two-man bobsled victory in the four-man later on Saturday and Sunday. Alexander Legkov is also a threat in the men's 50km cross-country skiing Sunday.
Behind Russia in the medal table, Norway also has 11 gold medals but half Russia's total of 10 silver.