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Austria Jolted into Action with Triple Gold Rush
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Police raids and midnight doping tests jolted Austrians into action as they won three gold medals at the Winter Olympics on Monday.

While Austrian cross country and biathlon athletes are still at the center of a doping row, their Alpine skiers and ski jumpers swept three gold and two bronze medals from men's giant slalom, women's super-G and team ski jumping.

Michaela Dorfmeister won the women's super-G. She didn't know she had won her second gold here until silver medalist Janica Kostelic of Croatia congratulated her with a hug. She then fell to the ground and kissed the snow.

Benjamin Raich had earlier nailed his first Olympic victory when he stormed down the men's giant slalom course in Sestriere.

Austria also won the bronze in both races, with Hermann Maier winning his second medal here after taking the men's super-G silver and the 32-year-old Alexandra Meissnitzer getting her first Olympic medal.

"I have big stones rolling off my heart. This was a goal I hav elong envisioned," said Raich, who finished the two runs with a total of two minutes and 35.00 seconds, 0.07 ahead of silver medalist Joel Chenal of France.

Dorfmeister, who will retire at the end of this season, went into the Olympics without a gold but now has two after also winning downhill.

The 32-year-old Austrian finished in 1:32.47, edging Kostelic by .27 seconds.

Austria also claimed a first ever ski jumping large hill team gold to tie with the United States and Germany atop the gold tally with seven each.

Thomas Morgenstern and Andreas Kofler, who finished 1-2 in the individual large hill, secured the team title after Morgenstern flew 140.5 meters in the final round. Finland took the silver and Norway bronze.

Austrians finally had a reason to celebrate after two frustrating days.

Italian police raided the quarters of Austrian biathlon and cross country skiing athletes last Saturday night, confiscating 100 syringes, 30 packs of medicines and a blood transfusion device. Ten athletes were drug-tested same night with the results expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Austrian biathletes Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottmann were banned from the Turin Games after leaving for home without telling their national committee and could also be banned from competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Perner told Austrian media that he fled in fear of Italian jail.

Back to competition. Russia went closer to a clean sweep of four figure skating golds as Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov proved they were in a class of their own in ice dancing.

World silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the United States took silver with the bronze going to Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of the Ukraine.

Canada won its second straight Olympic women's ice hockey finalas Cherie Piper scored her tournament-leading seventh goal in a 4-1 victory over Sweden Monday night.

Jayna Hefford, Caroline Ouellette and Gillian Apps each scored for Canada and Gunilla Andersson netted the lone goal for Sweden.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2006)

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