SOCHI, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- China's five-day wait for a gold medal ended on Thursday.
Li Jianrou claimed the country's first Sochi gold from the women's 500 meters short track and two hours later, Zhang Hong beat off a Dutch challenge in the women's 1,500m speed skating for China's first-ever gold in the sport.
China, which collected five golds four years ago in Vancouver, rose to eighth in the medal standings with two golds and one silver.
The 27-year-old Li got lucky as all other three finalists stumbled in front of her. She started from the most outside lane, only to be left behind soon, before pace-setter Park Seung-Hi of South Korea was caught in a clash between British Elise Christie and Italian Arianna Fontana at the first curve.
Li, the 2012 world champion over 1,500m, won the title unopposed with a time of 45.263 seconds, a far cry from the Olympic record of 42.985 held by her injured teammate Wang Meng.
"I always believe in myself," said Li. "I skated just like I do in daily training."
"There were too many surprises," added Chinese head coach Li Yan. "But that's sports. That's short track. What we can do is just to try our best."
Zhang Hong exploded to stun a strong field that included three-time Olympic champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, starting in the seventh from 18 pairs and winning in one minute 14.02 seconds, 0.67 seconds ahead of Wust.
Wust, who won the 3,000m on four days ago, took the silver and her teammate Margot Boer had the bronze.
"I am extremely happy now and it's hard to accept the reality that I have won the 1,000m," Zhang said. "We have been waiting for this gold for 22 years. I cannot believe I have won it."
Elsewhere, Joss Christensen led a US trio to a clean sweep of all three medals in the men's freestyle skiing slopestyle event.
Christensen scored 95.80 and 93.80 points in two runs for the gold, Gus Kenworthy took the silver and Nicholas Goepper won the bronze.
French biathlete Martin Fourcade, the defending champion, added the Olympic 20km individual gold to his pursuit title. Germany's Erik Lesser took silver and Russian Evgeniy Garanichev bronze.
The women's 10km classic style was won by Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Therese Johaug of Norway finished second and third respectively.
Germany swept four out of four Olympic luge events, clocking 2:45.649 to win the team relay gold in Sanki Sliding Center.
The day's other surprise came from Russian figure skating star Yvegeny Plushenko, who pulled out of the Games, citing a back injury, and then announced retirement.
Plushenko, the winner in the 2006 Olympics, just led Russia to the team title. He was runner-up in both the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
"Amateur sport is finished for me. Maybe not in the way that I wanted. But I leave with a gold medal, that is also great," the 31-year-old told Russia's Channel One.
After six day's competition, Germany tops the medal table with seven gold, two silver and one bronze medals, followed by Canada on 4-4-2 and Norway on 4-3-6.