Ireen Wust delivers another Dutch speedskating gold; Russia gets first medal of home Olympics

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The orange crush continues in the early speed skating events of the Sochi Olympics.

One day after the Netherlands’ Sven Kramer led a Dutch sweep of the medals in the men’s 5000m, Ireen Wust has given her country another gold with a victory in the women’s 3000m. It’s her third Olympic title, and her second in that specific event.

She dethroned the 2010 Olympic champ in the 3000m, Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic, with a time of 4:00.34 – 1.6 seconds ahead of Sablikova, who settled for the silver after her run of 4:01.95.

MORE: NBCOlympics.com Video – Watch Wust make her gold-medal winning skate

The home crowd in Sochi also saw Olga Graf deliver Russia its first medal of these Games, as she scored the bronze with a run of 4:03.47 that triggered plenty of cheers inside the Adler Arena.

Germany’s Claudia Pechstein narrowly missed in her first Sochi attempt to claim a 10th Olympic medal, finishing fourth. One more medal will put her alongside cross-country skiers Stefania Belmondo (ITA) and Raisa Smetanina (USSR/Unified) as the most decorated female Winter Olympians of all time.

Jilleanne Rookard placed 10th, 9.68 seconds behind the pace set by Wust, to lead the Americans.

SPEED SKATING – WOMEN’S 3000m
1. Irene Wust (NED), 4:00.34
2. Martina Sablikova (CZE), 4:01.95
3. Olga Graf (RUS), 4:03.47

10. Jilleanne Rookard (USA), 4:10.02
26. Anna Ringsred (USA), 4:21.51

U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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