U.S. leads total medal count with six
Johnny Spillane ended an 86-year drought that few Americans even
knew existed. Alexandre Bilodeau ended a much shorter wait that
practically everyone in Canada had been agonizing over.
Spillane finished second in Nordic combined, just
four-tenths of a second from making the first U.S. medal come in
the best color. It’s still a terrific accomplishment, the kind that
could land him on the cover of the media guide for the American
Nordic combined team.
Bilodeau’s feat – winning the men’s moguls – might land him
on a postage stamp or a loonie, Canada’s $1 coin.
His victory was the first by a Canadian in any event at an
Olympics held in Canada. Although there were only two Olympics in
Canada before Vancouver, there were 244 gold medals awarded over
Bilodeau’s breakthrough came in the 10th event of these
games and well past the point of panic for a country that invested
about $6 billion in hosting and $110 million in preparing its
athletes to “Own the Podium.”
After disappointments stretching from the Battle of Brians
in 1988 to Jenn Heil coming up short in women’s moguls on Saturday
night, Canadians were holding their breath when Bilodeau stood at
the start line, trying to beat the score posted by Dale Begg-Smith
– a native Canadian competing for Australia.
He moved into first with a swift, soaring run, then had to
wait out one final foe. It proved worth the wait. At 6:29 p.m. PST,
Bilodeau stood atop the medals stand and bowed, revealing a large
red maple leaf on the back of his white helmet as his prize was
placed around his neck. Millions of folks from Yukon to
Newfoundland were surely singing along to “O Canada.”
“I had it, I took it and now I belong to history,” Bilodeau
Begg-Smith took silver and American Bryon Wilson got the
bronze, giving the U.S. six medals through two days of competition
– the most of these Olympics and matching the team’s total from the
last time the Winter Games were in Canada in 1988.
Canada is catching up. The home team has three, with just as
many golds as the United States. France is the only country with
two gold medals.
Two days after Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a training
wreck, 20-year-old Felix Loch of Germany became the sport’s
youngest gold medalist with a dominant performance on a track made
shorter and slower following the tragedy.
Another German, David Moeller, was second, followed by
two-time defending Olympic champion Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.
American Tony Benshoof, sliding with three herniated discs
in his third and final Olympics, finished eighth. He was fourth in
2006, one-fifth of a second from claiming the first medal by an
American in singles luge.
Tim Burke was supposed to challenge for a medal. Then came a
heavy, wet snowfall that was tough enough to undo Norwegian great
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen as well.
Bjoerndalen, winner of a record nine biathlon medals, had
the worst finish of his Olympic career – 17th.
“When the snow came down, it was hopeless,” he said.
Burke, the first U.S. biathlete to lead the World Cup
standings, wound up 47th.
The three medalists – France’s Vincent Jay, Norway’s Emil
Hegle Svendsen and Croatia’s Jakov Fak – were among the first 10
starters, before the snow began to cause problems. Jeremy Teela was
the top American, finishing ninth.
Todd Lodwick narrowly missed making it two Americans with a
Nordic combined medal. He was fourth.
The winner, Jason Lamy Chappuis, is an American by birth who
has always raced for France.
Nordic combined is a mix of ski jumping and cross-country
skiing and has been on the Winter Olympics program since 1924.
“After 86 years of trying we are actually legitimate,” U.S.
coach Tom Steitz said. “We are all going to sit around tonight and
drink champagne and touch the medals.”
The only question was whether the United States would
clobber China as badly as Canada’s 18-0 wipeout of Slovakia.
No, but it was close.
The Americans won 12-1, with Jenny Potter notching her first
Olympic hat trick and becoming the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic
history. The Americans came within 2:21 of a shutout in front of a
crowd that included Vice President Joe Biden and 1980 U.S. hockey
captain Mike Eruzione.
“I think we did a good job playing our game, but at the same
time keeping sportsmanship in mind,” U.S. captain Natalie Darwitz
Finland overcame an early deficit to beat Russia 5-1.
Real-life couple Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo celebrated
Valentine’s Day by breaking their own world record in the pairs
short program, putting them ahead of two-time world champions
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany.
The Chinese couple, who’ve won bronze at the last two
Olympics, will take a slim lead into the free skate on Monday
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are third, in
good position to keep up the streak of a Russian or Soviet pair
winning the gold medal at every Olympics dating to 1964.
Americans Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are 10th. U.S.
champions Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett 14th.
Former gold-medal winners Peggy Fleming and Vonetta Flowers
were slightly injured in a traffic accident while riding with 1980
U.S. hockey captain Mike Eruzione in Vice President Joe Biden’s
motorcade at the Vancouver Olympics.
Biden was in another car and wasn’t involved in the wreck.
The motorcade was headed to the U.S. women’s hockey game
when the vehicle with Fleming, Flowers and Eruzione was rear-ended.
Fleming, the 1968 figure skating champion, and Flowers, a
2002 bobsled winner, were examined at the scene and at a hospital.
Both were at the figure skating event Sunday night.
“I think I’ll have a stiff neck tomorrow and stiff muscles,”
It’s getting to the point where it will be news when they do
ski in Whistler.
The Alpine schedule was wiped out yet again, this time
keeping the women from a training session because of heavy rain and
snow. The men’s downhill is to begin Monday, when drier, cooler air
The delays continue to help Lindsey Vonn in her recovery
from a bruised right shin. Vonn’s husband told The Associated Press
she went through a rigorous slalom training session, her biggest
test since being injured Feb. 2.
“Her focus has definitely changed from, ‘Am I going to
race?’ to ‘I’m definitely racing, and I need to get the rust off
and try to get the speed back,” Thomas Vonn said.
Uh-oh, Canada: Sidney Crosby got hurt in his final NHL game
before coming to the Olympics.
Crosby, the biggest star on a Canadian roster filled with
big names, blocked a shot with his right shin in the second period
of a game against Nashville. He played the rest of the game, with
an assist in the third period of a 4-3 shootout loss for
“I will be there,” Crosby said. “I’m on the flight tonight.”
Canada was scheduled to practice Monday and open against
Norway on Tuesday.
Sweden was forced to replace Tomas Holmstrom on its roster
because of an injury aggravated Saturday. His spot is going to his
Detroit teammate Johan Franzen, who played last week in his return
from knee surgery.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic won the women’s
3,000 meters. Germany’s Stephanie Beckert got silver, and Canada’s
Kristina Groves got bronze.
Sablikova also is favored to win the 5,000 meters.
Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. was the top American, finishing
That huge outdoor cauldron ignited by Wayne Gretzky would
make for a great photo backdrop – if not for the chain-link fence
keeping folks away.
Officials put it up for safety and security reasons.
Vancouver organizing committee spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said
they’re realizing what an eyesore the fence has become. So now
they’re talking about another barrier that would at least be more