SOCHI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Swiss skier Christoph Kunz won the first gold medal for his country Saturday, while Russia joined the U.S. and Canada on the sledge hockey podium at the Sochi Paralympic Games.
Kunz won the men's sitting giant slalom race at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre. It is the first gold medal for Switzerland at Sochi Games and also the 50th gold medal at a Paralympic Winter Games for the country.
"I am really happy. It was hard for me after the downhill and SC (super combined). I had a chance in giant slalom. The course was not in the best condition. We all had a hard week. I am happy I won a medal for Switzerland," Kunz told reporters.
The Shayba Arena Saturday witnessed some 6,000 spectators during the heated sledge hockey final between Russia and the U.S..
Josh Sweeney, the U.S. forward scored the lone goal in a tense game as the U.S. became the first team to win back-to-back Paralympic Winter Games sledge hockey titles with a 1-0 win over Russia.
On his steal and goal that gave the United States the decisive 1-0 lead, Sweeney said: "I saw the defender, he had the puck and I just went after him. I did a little fake because that's what you want to do when you're up against a goalie that good. It wasn't anything that my other teammates couldn't have done."
The Russia team, the silver medalist, created just five years ago, established themselves as a sledge hockey superpower, joining the United States, Canada and Norway as a consistent medal threat.
The Russians earned a spot on the podium after their men's and women's teams were bundled out of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games without one.
The wheelchair curling games also rocked the venue and broke records as the semifinals and the final were finished with packed stands and fierce competitions.
Russia may have been comprehensively beaten 8-3 by Canada in the final, but it defied its status as a Paralympic Winter Games debutant in the sport and posted the best record from the round-robin stage, before the big-game experience of a decorated Canadian side shone through.
Canada maintained its perfect record at this level and is still the only team to have won gold in Paralympic wheelchair curling history.
Britain rotated its squad and throwing order throughout the competition and squeezed into the medal round as the No.4 seed. Britain had been beaten 6-3 by China in the round-robin only two days before it exacted revenge in the bronze-medal game with a 7-3 triumph.
China brought by far the youngest squad to Sochi 2014, and the young guns, with an average age of just 28, initially appeared overawed, losing two of its first three games. They bounced back to win four from the next six, but came unstuck against more experienced opponents in the medal round.