US matches its record for most Winter Olympics medals; hockey team advances to gold gameBy Jaime Aron, AP
Friday, February 26, 2010
US matches medal record; hockey team in gold game
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — So these won’t be remembered as the Vonn-couver Olympics after all. It’s looking like they will belong to the entire U.S. delegation instead.
With 32 medals already won, and two more guaranteed, the Americans already have matched their most medals at any Winter Olympics, and there are 26 events left to add to their collection.
How’s this for fitting: The record could be brought down by the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all-time, Apolo Anton Ohno, who was competing in two short-track speedskating events later Friday.
The U.S. didn’t actually win any medals during the day Friday, but the men’s hockey team and the men’s team pursuit team in speedskating are locks for the weekend. Both advanced to gold-medal matches in which they can get no worse than silver.
The hockey team scored six times in the first period of its semifinal against Finland, then cruised to a 6-1 victory. Next up is the winner of the Slovakia-Canada game later Friday.
The speedskaters locked up a top prize by knocking off Sven Kramer and the Dutch in a semifinal race.
Vonn was supposed to win all sorts of Alpine medals. Although she is going home with a gold and a bronze, she also had three DNFs for failing to finish her other events, including the slalom on Friday.
Injuries certainly took a toll, from a broken right pinkie to a collection of bruises from chin to shin. But she refused to give up, which may be the bottom line on her performance at these games.
“I’m totally satisfied with everything I have done here,” Vonn said. “I went out there fighting — it just wasn’t my day. I didn’t want to give up, that’s my personality.”
Vonn’s close friend Maria Riesch won the event for her second gold in Vancouver and the ninth for Germany, taking over the lead in that category.
Also Friday, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway added to his tremendous Olympics resume by anchoring Norway’s victory in the men’s biathlon relay. This was his first gold medal since sweeping all four events in 2002, and the 11th medal of his career. That leaves him one behind Bjorn Daehlie’s Winter Games record of 12.
Ryan Malone, Zach Parise, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane all scored in the first 10:08, sending Finland goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to the bench and pretty much sealing any doubt who’d win this.
Just to make sure, Kane and Paul Stastny greeted his replacement with goals 15 seconds apart just a few minutes later, and the only question left was who the Americans will play.
“It seemed like we were scoring every shift,” Kane said.
When they play is significant, too: Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. winning gold at the 1960 Olympics, beating Canada.
Miller stopped all 18 shots he faced, then headed to the bench with 11:31 left. Tim Thomas allowed a deflected goal with 5:14 left in the game to spoil the bid for consecutive shutouts.
Steve Holcomb and his sleek, black four-man bobsled known as the “Night Train” are halfway to gold.
Officially known as USA-1, the sled set track records on both its runs, putting it in first place going into the last two heats Saturday night.
Note: The United States hasn’t won this race since 1948.
“What Holcomb did here today was super genius,” said Germany’s Kevin Kuske, a four-time Olympic champion.
More agony for Sven Kramer, lots of joy for the United States.
The American men upset Kramer and the powerful Dutch team in one team pursuit semifinal, and the U.S. women knocked off Canada in their quarterfinal.
The men will face Canada in the gold-medal race Saturday. The women will face defending Olympic champion Germany in a semifinal Saturday.
Riesch’s victory made the German women 3-of-5 in Alpine events. Vonn was waiting for her at the finish.
“Awesome,” she said. “I’m so proud of you.”
Riesch is competing at her first Olympics at age 25 after being sidelined by a season-ending injury four years ago.
Sarah Schleper was the top American, finishing 16th — after a team doctor sewed five stitches in her bloodied chin before her second run.
The 36-year-old Bjoerndalen nailed all 10 of his targets, then skied across the finish waving a flag and flashing a big smile.
“I’m really satisfied with my race,” he said. “It was perfect.”
The Americans were 13th out of 19 countries.
WOMEN’S HOCKEY FALLOUT
The Canadian Olympic Committee basically said their women’s hockey team made only one mistake while swigging champagne and beer, and lighting cigars, on the ice, in celebration of their gold medal.
COC president Michael Chambers said nobody would’ve known or cared had it been contained in the locker room. But by going out in front of reporters, the party become somewhat controversial, especially with an 18-year-old player being seen drinking in a city where the legal age is 19.
“It was just us savoring the moment,” tournament MVP Meghan Agosta said. “We were not thinking about what we were doing, but we are responsible for what we did.”
Canada was denied another gold medal on home ice, getting taken down by a Swedish team that captured its second consecutive gold medal in women’s curling.
In extra ends, no less!
China, competing in its first Olympics, beat Switzerland for the bronze.
With rain turning the event into hydroplaning, Nicolien Sauerbreij of the Netherlands won the women’s parallel giant slalom race.
Rider after top rider kept going out, unable to handle the strange conditions. About the only one who handled them consistently was Sauerbreij, who was her country’s flagbearer in 2002, but finished 24th.
Tags: Biathlon, Bobsledding, British Columbia, Canada, Curling, Europe, Germany, North America, Skating, United States, Vancouver, Western Europe, Winter Olympic Games, Winter olympics, Women's Sports