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Monday, February 22, 2010 - 6:28pm
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Seeing how their neighbors
down south have owned the podium so far, Canadian officials are
giving up on their goal of winning the medal count at the Vancouver
The concession speech by the leader of Canada's Olympic
committee - "I'm not going to live in a fool's paradise and think
we're going to win" - is pretty realistic. Canadian athletes had
only nine medals as of Monday afternoon, one less than the
Americans' bronze medals.
The United States has 24 medals, most of all countries. Canada
was in a three-way tie for fourth.
This white flag is another blow for Canadians still reeling from
their hockey team's loss to the United States on Sunday. It also
stings because of the $117 million and five years invested into an
"Own The Podium" program aimed at earning the most medals at
these Winter Olympics.
"I think we did the right thing," COC head Chris Rudge said.
"Would I modify (expectations) based on the knowledge that we have
now? Sure I would."
At least the locals still have some measures of revenge. Their
men's curling team - not as popular as the men's hockey team, but
still a source of pride - knocked out the U.S. team Monday, and
there's a good chance the countries will meet in the women's hockey
The Americans advanced with a 9-1 victory over Sweden in the
semifinals. Canada was playing Finland later Monday to determine
the opponent in the gold-medal game. The final is Thursday.
With the U.S. guaranteed no worse than silver, that means the
Americans can claim 25 medals, matching their total from the 2006
Turin Games, which had been their record for a Winter Olympics not
held in the United States.
The U.S. Olympic Committee didn't offer any targets for
Vancouver, but it seems safe to say the delegation has met or even
surpassed the best-case scenario.
To appreciate how well Americans have done, consider that with
37 events left, they are:
- closing in on their record for most medals at any Winter Games
(34, at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games).
- in position to win the overall medals count for only the
second time. The other was the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics. That was
the third Winter Olympics and it featured just 14 events.
Yet the medals race certainly isn't over.
Germany tied the Americans for the most gold (seven) and upped
its total to 21 with a big haul Monday. The Germans won the women's
cross-country team sprint and got silver in the men's team sprint
and in ski jumping.
What a day to remember for U.S. coach Mark Johnson.
On the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice" - in which he
scored two goals - Johnson saw his team avenge their 2006 Olympic
shootout loss to Sweden.
The Americans jumped ahead 4-0, then put the game away with four
goals early in the third period, all against Kim Martin, the same
goalie who stunned them in Turin.
Monique Lamoureux scored three goals. Angela Ruggiero, a
four-time Olympian playing in her record 250th game, also scored.
Skip John Shuster's team got an early lead over Canada, but
wound up losing 7-2 in a shortened match. The Americans fell to 2-6
going into their finale Monday night against China.
Shuster won bronze four years ago, helping bring more attention
to this sport. It was the first U.S. curling medal at the Olympics
and the first in a major men's competition since 1978. They
couldn't build on it, though, losing three straight matches in
extra ends (which are like innings in baseball).
"We've played good and just haven't quite gotten there,"
Both team sprints - a freestyle event with two skiers taking
turns going three laps - were decided in dashes to the finish.
Norway's Petter Northug did it in the men's event, pulling away
from Germany's Axel Teichmann. Norway's Ola Vigen Hattestad -the
reigning world champion in the individual and team sprints, and
winner of the last two World Cup sprint titles - pulled out because
of a sore throat.
Americans Torin Koos and Andy Newell were ninth.
Germany won the women's team sprint when Claudia Nystad beat
Sweden's Anna Haag across the line by 0.6 seconds. Americans
Caitlin Compton and Kikkan Randall were sixth.
Russia took bronze in both events.
On his final jump in the team event, 20-year-old Gregor
Schlierenzauer soared farther than anyone else in these Winter
Games to wrap up the gold for Austria. This was his third medal; he
won bronze in both individual events.
Switzerland's Simon Ammann, who won both individual events,
didn't compete in the team event because his country didn't have
the four jumpers needed for a team.
More changes are coming to the Whistler Sliding Center, this
time to shave the ice in several tricky curves in hopes of making
the track easier for bobsledders to navigate.
"It's still going to be the toughest track in the world. No
doubt," U.S. coach Brian Shimer told The Associated Press.
Changes came after a two sleds crashed during supplemental
training, which many nations chose to skip, opting for rest
The women's event is Tuesday and Wednesday, with the men's
four-man event Friday and Saturday.
Magdalena Neuner of Germany won't go for a third gold medal,
pulling out of the relay on Tuesday because of exhaustion.
Neuner said she is "happy and satisfied" with having won gold
in the pursuit and mass start races, and silver in the sprint, but
that her Olympics have been "incredibly stressful."
BUS DRIVER DIES
Police say a 71-year-old bus driver working at the Olympics died
on duty while driving other drivers to their depot. He's believed
to have had a heart attack.
Another driver grabbed the wheel and safely stopped the bus,
said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.