Thursday Afternoon Olympic Update

Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 4:20pm

AP Sports Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Forget that funky cheese
treatment. The best salve for Lindsey Vonn's aching shin was
winning a gold medal.

So imagine how good a second would feel.

Vonn got off to a great start toward adding to her collection by
being the fastest in the downhill portion of the women's
super-combined Thursday morning. The slalom is the other half of
the combination and it will be held in the afternoon.

"I'm happy," Vonn said. "It was a solid run."

Vonn proved she can be the fastest down the mountain in winning
the downhill Wednesday. So the slalom will be a new test for her at
these Olympics. It'll also be a challenge for her to simply race
twice in one day - and for a third time in two days - considering
the bruise in her right shin is "killing me today."

She said the shin hurts as much as it has since she was injured
Feb. 2. She could spend the few hours between events slathering it
up with the Austrian curd cheese she's been using, or maybe
adrenalin and the excitement of being this close to winning again
will help.

"I've struggled a bit with (my) energy level," Vonn said.
"Yesterday was a long day. I didn't get as much rest as I

Vonn's best friend and top rival, Maria Riesch of Germany, was
second fastest, 0.33 seconds behind. She's also been the top slalom
skier on the World Cup circuit the last two years.

"By no means is it over," Vonn said. "Maria is right on my
tail. I don't know if I can hold her back."

Downhill silver medalist Julia Mancuso of the United States is
third, 0.80 behind.

"I think I could have been a lot faster," Mancuso said. "It's
really disappointing when you start early and then the sun comes
out. I really couldn't see anything."

Sweden's Anja Paerson, a five-time Olympic medalist and
defending champion in slalom, posted the seventh-fastest time.

The women's super-combined is among six medal events being
decided Thursday. The other strong chances for U.S. medals are Evan
Lysacek in men's figure skating, as well as Kelly Clark and
Gretchen Bleiler in women's halfpipe.

Boosted by six medals Wednesday - the best day Americans have
had at a Winter Olympics - the United States is comfortably ahead
on the overall winners list.

The Americans have 14 medals in 28 events, with five golds.
Germany is second in the overall count with 10 and is among several
countries with three golds, which also is second best.

In nonmedal action Thursday, the U.S. men's hockey team faces
Norway and the women play Finland, while the men's and women's
curling squads both seek their first victories in Vancouver.

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Tora Berger that is, not the Oscar-winning movie about Pearl

Berger, of Norway, dominated from start to finish to win the
women's 15-kilometer individual race.

The Olympics is a pretty fascinating talent show, too.

A night after Fox's "American Idol" drew nearly 4 million more
viewers than NBC's broadcast from Vancouver, the athletes outdrew
the entertainers by a whopping 11.7 million in the hour the two
overlapped Wednesday night.

Gee, ya think those gold medals won by Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis
and Shaun White helped?

It was the first time in six years that "Idol" was topped by a
program in its time slot.

They're not happy in Moscow.

With only a single medal of each color won by Russians going
into Thursday's events, some members of the nation's parliament are
calling for their top sports leaders to resign.

The paltry haul thus far has brought "bitterness and insult,"
according to a statement by one government official.

Just playing politics? Perhaps. But remember that the 2014
Winter Olympics are in Sochi, Russia, so there's more than the
usual patriotic pride on the line.

Maybe something good already has come from the death of Georgian
luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

That's what his uncle-coach thinks.

Back home in Georgia, Felix Kumaritashvili said the lives of
other competitors have been saved by the safety changes made in
response to his nephew's death during a crash in training.

The luger's family says the track was unsafe. Olympics and luge
federation officials say Kumaritashvili was late coming out of a

There's injury and illness among bobsledders.

Swiss medal contender Beat Hefti missed some training runs
because of headaches caused by a crash Wednesday night.

Australian push athlete Duncan Harvey was held out of practice
Thursday as a precaution after he was briefly hospitalized after
another crash Wednesday night.

And Latvian driver Janis Minins will miss the two-man event,
following emergency surgery to remove his appendix.


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