‘Grabby’ snow knocks Bode Miller out of slalom; US medal quest heading into home stretchBy Jaime Aron, AP
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Bode out in slalom; US medal quest in home stretch
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Having already matched the most medals won by any country at any Winter Olympics, Americans went into the last two days of the Vancouver Games seeing how many more they can add.
The U.S. total is officially 34, although two more are locked up, guaranteed to be gold or silver. One of those was to be determined Saturday afternoon, when speedskater Chad Hedrick and the men’s team pursuit squad raced against Canada.
The women were in the bronze-medal race in the same event, having lost a semifinal Saturday. If they can beat Poland for medal No. 37, that would break a tie between this U.S. delegation and the Germans at Salt Lake City in 2002.
If not, maybe Steve Holcomb and his “Night Train” can do it. They are strong favorites to win the four-man bobsled race after setting track records in both of their first two heats. The final two heats were later Saturday afternoon.
Bode Miller won’t be adding anything beyond the gold, silver and bronze he’s already won. He bailed out just a few gates into the slalom Saturday morning, a casualty of “grabby” snow that bedeviled a slew of skiers.
Other events being decided on the next-to-last day of competition were women’s 30-kilometer mass start in cross-country skiing, men’s curling and snowboarding’s men’s parallel giant slalom.
The U.S. is likely to win the medal chase for only second time at a Winter Olympics, and first since 1932 at Lake Placid. The Germans are next with 27, then Canada with 21.
There’s still a good battle for the most golds. Canada has 10, Germany nine and the U.S. and Norway eight.
Miller’s last chance to become the first man to win four Alpine medals at the same Olympics ended quickly.
Eight seconds into his final event, he “hooked a tip” of his ski and had to give up, his second DNF in as many races since finishing 1, 2 and 3 in his first three events.
Miller is one of only five men to get three Alpine medals at a games, a record performance for a U.S. skier. His five career Olympic medals are tied for second on the all-time list behind Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has eight.
“I really couldn’t be much happier,” Miller said. “I came out, I was ready, I was prepared — that’s all the stuff you can do.”
Giuliano Razzoli led after the first run, putting Italy in position for its first Alpine medal of these Olympics.
Unheralded Mitja Valencic of Slovenia was second, and Austria’s Benjamin Raich was third. He’s aiming for a fifth career medal to become the most decorated Austrian Alpine skier in Olympic history. He’s also trying to give the Austrian men its first medal of these games.
Most of Chile’s athletes and coaches plan to skip the closing ceremony to get home as soon as possible following a magnitude-8.8 earthquake that has devastated their country.
Team spokesman Luis Alberto Santa Cruz said some athletes and coaches heard that their loved ones are fine. Others were still trying to make contact.
Alpine skiers Noelle Barahona, Maui Gayme and Jorge Mandru did not leave because they were still competing.
SNOWBOARDING Austria’s Andreas Prommegger has captured the top seed in men’s parallel giant slalom on rain-soaked Cypress Mountain. He was to face American Chris Klug when the side-by-side elimination rounds begin later Saturday.
The men race in elimination heats until two are left to vie for gold and silver, with a consolation race for bronze.
American Tyler Jewell qualified seventh.
The head of the next Olympics — the Summer Games in London — hopes to match the full venues and lively crowds he’s seen in Vancouver.
“Not since Sydney (in 2000) have I seen a city embrace the games the way they’ve been embraced here,” Sebastian Coe said. “My gut instinct is that is what these games will be remembered for.”
Coe and about 50 staffers have been in Vancouver to see how things are being done. In 2012, Coe said he expects about 250,000 fans to flock into the Olympic Park in east London every day, and at least an additional 1 million people to come to the city for the games.
Coe said he liked the use of “live sites” across Vancouver for fans to follow the games on large screens and enjoy music and other entertainment — something they already were planning to do in London.
Switzerland swept past Sweden for the men’s bronze medal, getting two points on its final rock.
Tags: Austria, Bobsledding, British Columbia, Canada, Curling, England, Europe, London, Men's Curling, North America, Skating, Skiing, Snowboarding, United Kingdom, United States, Vancouver, Western Europe, Winter Olympic Games, Winter olympics, Women's Curling, Women's Sports