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Olympics

Russia's Tretiakov wins gold in Olympic skeleton; U.S.' Antoine snags bronze

Martins Dukurs of Latvia starts his third heat during the men's skeleton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Alexander Tretiakov of Russia won the gold medal in men's Olympic skeleton on Saturday, blasting away from the world's top racers.

Hurtling down a track he's trained on more than anyone else, Tretiakov thrilled a raucous Russian crowd by completing four runs at the Sanki Sliding Center in 3 minutes, 44.29 seconds, well ahead of Latvia's Martins Dukurs, who finished in 3:45.10 and won silver for the second straight games.

Matt Antoine of Prairie du Chien, Wis., won bronze, the first skeleton medal for the U.S. since Jimmy Shea's gold in 2002.

Tretiakov won bronze four years ago in Vancouver and figured to be among the pack of sliders to contend for gold. Instead, he was the leader from the moment he stepped on the ice.

The 28-year-old Tretiakov, known as the ''Russian Rocket,'' began the day leading Dukurs by 0.56 seconds.