Friday Late Olympic Update

Saturday, February 20, 2010 - 1:17am

AP Sports Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Two races, two medals. Bode
Miller is putting together one heck of a Vancouver Olympics.
Miller picked up a silver in the super-G Friday to go with the
bronze he won in the downhill.
Andrew Weibrecht surprisingly finished right behind Miller,
plopping another medal onto the United States' growing pile.
The U.S. Alpine team already has won six medals, their most
ever, and we're not even halfway done in the mountains.
"Our kids love to compete in the big show," said Bill Marolt,
head of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Overall, the U.S. delegation has won 20 medals, nearly matching
its total from Turin (25). With 52 events and nine days left, the
Americans are charging toward their record of 34 medals won at the
Salt Lake City Games in 2002.
"Part of it might be that we are on North American soil," said
Weibrecht, who'd never finished higher than 10th in a World Cup
race. "(We) get better results when we're at home, or close to
home, better food and lodgings."
With six gold, six silver and eight bronze, the Americans have
practically lapped the field. Germany is second in overall medals
with 13.
Norway has the second-most golds with five, boosted by victories
in the first two events decided Friday. Aksel Lund Svindal won the
super-G and Marit Bjoergen won the women's 15-kilometer pursuit.
Bjoergen also became the first winner of multiple gold medals in
Vancouver and the first with three medals.
Amy Williams won the women's skeleton to give Britain an
individual gold medalist at the Winter Games for the first time
since figure skater Robin Cousins at Lake Placid in 1980. That is,
if it holds up. Canada filed a protest over Williams' aerodynamic
helmet. It's the second such complaint in as many days, with
another filed by the Americans rejected Thursday.
The day's final event was the men's skeleton, won by Canada's
Jon Montgomery. It's the fourth gold for the hosts.
In nonmedal action, the winless U.S. men's and women's curling
teams responded to the arrival of their honorary captain - San
Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis - by winning for the first
time, and a halfpipe medalist headed home sooner than he'd planned.
Scotty Lago volunteered to leave the Olympics after risque
pictures of him wearing a Team USA T-shirt and his bronze medal
showed up on the Internet. The U.S. Olympics Committee puts
athletes through a program to avoid such situations. Lago
apologized to the USOC and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Saturday could be another big day for the Americans with Apolo
Anton Ohno, Shani Davis and Lindsey Vonn all in action.
Vonn stayed off her skis Friday to give her bruised right shin
more time to heal and it "definitely helped," according to her
husband, Thomas.
When Miller took bronze in the downhill, he was all smiles at
the end of the race. He looked worn out this time.
Miller let out a big breath of air and quickly shook his head.
Then he leaned forward, resting his helmet on forearms still locked
atop his poles. Once his lungs stopped burning, he took out his
mouthpiece and gave a little fist pump.
"I was lucky today," he said. "I could just as easily been
fifth or sixth."
With his fourth career medal, Miller regained the title of most
decorated American Alpine skier, a day after Julia Mancuso tied him
for that honor. (The title could keep changing hands with the men's
super combined and slalom still to come; Mancuso has two events
left and Lindsey Vonn has three.) Also, this is the first time two
American men got medals in the same Alpine event since brothers
Phil and Steve Mahre went 1-2 in slalom at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.
Weibrecht found himself in first place after his run, something
that had never happened before. He said he "refused to believe
until the race was over that I was in with a medal."
"I've been knocking on the door all year," Weibrecht said.
"To come out here and do it just feels unbelievable."
Svindal made it four golds for Norwegians in the seven times
this race has been part of the Olympic program.
The race was marred by more horrific wipeouts. The most serious
left 40-year-old Patrik Jaerbyn with a concussion and bloody face.
The Swedish team physician said Jaerbyn was spending the night in
the hospital.
While the cheers from Davis were nice, the difference-maker for
the men's team may have been a change in skips (team captain).
After an 0-4 start, out went 2006 bronze medalist John Shuster
and in came alternate Chris Plys, with vice skip Jason Smith
throwing the last rock. The result was a 4-3 victory over France,
which came in with only one win.
The women were 0-3 until skip Debbie McCormick bumped out a
Russian stone with her last rock, giving the U.S. a 6-4 victory -
its first after an 0-3 start that had put her stewardship in
jeopardy, too.
Americans were oh-so-close to a pair of medals.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, the 2007 world champion, finished third in
the women's event, just 0.10 seconds from bronze.
Zach Lund, who was kicked out of the last Olympics because a
banned substance was in a hair-restoration product he took, was
fifth, 0.52 from a medal.
The Czech Republic and Sweden joined the United States as the
only 2-0 teams so far.
Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec helped the Czechs take a 3-0
lead over Latvia before even allowing a shot, then rode the big
start to a 5-2 victory.
The Swedes also led 3-0, facing a Belarus team that upset them
four years ago. Belarus got within a goal with 5:10 remaining, but
Sweden held off, even getting another goal with 10.4 seconds left
to make the final score 4-2.
"I think we got a little scared in the end," said Swedish
forward Peter Forsberg, a holdover from 2002.
World champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia won
the compulsory portion of ice dance, the first of three legs of the
event. The original dance will be Sunday and free dance Monday
Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are second and two-time
American champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are third, just
ahead of fellow Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, the
2006 silver medalists.
Two Swiss competitors have withdrawn from events following scary
crashes, including a strong medal contender.
Swiss driver Daniel Schmid, who was not a medal favorite, pulled
out of the two-man and four-man bob for "safety reasons" after
two practice crashes. On Friday, his sled overturned during
training and his brakeman was taken from the track in an ambulance,
then flown to Vancouver for observation. A team doctor said there
were no serious injuries.
Beat Hefti, a World Cup champion, withdrew from two-man because
of a concussion in a crash Wednesday. He hasn't decided whether to
race in the four-man, which starts next Friday.
Normal hill winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland can keep using
the modified bindings that anchor his boots to his skis.
He can keep his gold medal, too.
The International Ski Federation dismissed complaints by the
Austrians that Ammann was breaking the rules, and gave him
permission to stick with the equipment for Saturday's large hill
Having already won two halfpipe gold medals, Shaun White would
love the chance to double his collection at the 2014 Olympics.
White said he'd consider competing in halfpipe and slopestyle if
that event was added to the mix for the Sochi Games.
In slopestyle, riders do huge tricks while going down the
mountain and through "features" - rails, big jumps and bumps. At
ski resorts, slopestyle is widely thought of as an easier way for
amateur snowboarders to do cool tricks than on a halfpipe.
White likes the idea of being in the spotlight a little longer.
Odds are NBC would like to have him around more, too.
"It's a strange thing going to the Olympics, where so many
people have four, five events and we just have the one big night,"
he said.
On his first day as an Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek said he's
not even thinking about retirement.
Defending his world championship next month in Turin? Well,
that's still to be determined.
The 24-year-old American also said he was a "little
disappointed" his long program was criticized by silver medalist
and reigning champion Evgeni Plushenko. He added that Plushenko
congratulated him with "a strong handshake."
Bjoergen pulled away midway through the freestyle portion of the
race and was never threatened the rest of the way.
Anna Haag of Sweden won a three-way sprint for the silver, with
favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland getting bronze in a photo
Morgan Arritola was the top American, finishing 38th.
Also, Slovenia's Petra Majdic is done for a while. Doctors
discovered four broken ribs and a collapsed lung, all sustained
before winning the bronze in the individual classical sprint. She
was among the favorites for the 30K classical race.
Yes, even at the Olympics, folks took a break to watch Tiger
Woods talk Friday.
Snowboarder Shaun White says people will soon realize Woods made
mistakes but isn't such a bad guy. Figure skater Evan Lysacek
thinks Woods' remarks offer a teaching moment on how to handle
one's self. Skier Julia Mancuso questioned his sincerity on
Twitter: "come on Tiger! give us some reality here."
Bidding for the ultimate Vancouver Olympics souvenir - the site
of the Alpine events, and other assets of resort operator Intrawest
- has been delayed until next Friday.
The auction was supposed to be Friday. But creditors pushed it
back, hoping to reach a last minute deal. Creditors are trying to
recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the company's
owner, New York hedge fund Fortress.


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