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American Wins Gold In Figure Skating
Friday, February 19, 2010 - 12:30am
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - On a day when Lindsey Vonn
crashed and Canada's pride-and-joy hockey team nearly went down,
Evan Lysacek stood up strong.
In the biggest event of his life, Lysacek - the reigning world
champion in men's figure skating - didn't try the most daring
routine, but he hit nearly every move he picked. He knew it, too,
repeatedly screaming "Yes!" as his music faded.
"It was definitely my best, and that's what I came here to
do," Lysacek said.
He earned the highest score of his career and it held up for the
gold medal, topping defending champ Evgeni Plushenko and providing
the United States with its first champion in this event since Brian
Boitano in 1988. He also gave his coach, the widely respected Frank
Carroll, his first gold medalist.
Lysacek's victory let the United States close Thursday still way
ahead in the medals races. Through 34 events, Americans have
claimed six golds and 17 overall. Germany is second in both
categories, with four and 11.
Vonn wasn't able to add to the total.
Seeking her second gold medal in as many days, she led the
super-combined after the downhill portion, then failed to slip a
ski inside a gate during her slalom run and wound up tumbling down
A bruised right shin that was "killing me" wasn't to blame.
She just made a common mistake trying to catch up to her best
friend Maria Riesch of Germany and teammate Julia Mancuso.
"I was disappointed, but I went down fighting," Vonn said. "I
had to give it everything I had."
Mancuso became the first American woman to win a medal in
women's combined or super-combined since Gretchen Fraser got silver
at the 1948 St. Moritz Games. She also became the first U.S. woman
with three Olympic medals in Alpine skiing, matching Bode Miller
for the most Alpine medals by an American.
The biggest drama that played out Tuesday involved Canada's
men's hockey team.
A squad of NHL greats supposed to win gold in a sport that means
about as much to Canadians as football, baseball and basketball
combined mean to Americans let a two-goal lead dissolve into a tie
with Switzerland. It stayed that way after regulation, after
overtime and after three rounds of a shootout. Then Sidney Crosby
scored and the entire host country exhaled.
A loss would've been more humiliating than damaging to Canada's
chances of winning the Olympic tournament. Still, this
way-too-close of a call - with an own goal clinking in off the
skate of Patrick Marleau and goaltender Martin Brodeur not even
coming close to stopping a shot he saw the entire way - is sure to
have the country buzzing and the rest of the teams wondering
whether the pressure is getting to the guys with maple leafs on
Other noteworthy events Thursday:
- Two gold medals for women named Tora/Torah: Tora Berger's
victory was part of a sweep of biathlon events by Norwegians. Hers
also gave Norway the nifty milestone of being first nation with 100
Winter Olympics gold medals. Torah Bright became the 2010 champ in
women's halfpipe by beating the last two gold medalists, both
Americans - '06 champ Hannah Teter (silver) and '02 champ Kelly
- The U.S. men's and women's hockey teams remained undefeated,
with Summer Olympics golden boy Michael Phelps cheering the guys
from the stands.
- The U.S. men's and women's curling squads remained winless.
The U.S. squad will take a 2-0 record into its clash with Canada
on Sunday. That's significant because the Americans were 1-4-1 at
the Turin Games.
The latest victory was 6-1 over Norway, with Phil Kessel and
Chris Drury getting the club going with first-period goals. The
defense was so good that goaltender Ryan Miller needed to make only
10 saves, with Phelps sitting four rows above center ice and trying
to stay out of the spotlight.
Canada beat Norway 8-0, yet any method of comparison was
rendered moot by what happened between the Canadians and the Swiss.
Canada took a 2-0 lead early in the second period against a club
with only two NHL players and a mostly new, younger collection of
Canadians seemed poised to avenge a 2-0 upset loss to Switzerland
in 2006 that ranks among the greatest in Olympic history. It was
even the 4-year anniversary.
They almost blew it. Victory wasn't secured until Crosby put a
wrist shot past Jonas Hiller on his second attempt of the shootout,
then Brodeur stopped a shot by Martin Pluss.
Stunning news from the U.S. match - Jenny Potter didn't have a
third straight hat trick. Heck, she didn't have a single point.
The Americans still cruised by Finland 6-0, getting a goal and
two assists from captain Natalie Darwitz to cap an undefeated run
through the preliminary round.
"We've got one task in sight, and we think we are in pretty
good position going forward," U.S. defenseman Caitlin Cahow said.
HOCKEY & THE OLYMPICS
The head of the International Ice Hockey Federation is defending
the lack of depth in the women's field and practically begging NHL
commissioner Gary Bettman to let pros play in the 2014 Winter
"For our game, our fans, Gary, we need you, 100 percent," IIHF
president Rene Fasel said at a news conference Bettman attended.
As for the imbalance in the women's field, Fasel called the
teams from Canada and the United States "on another planet" and
urged the rest of the world to catch up.
After all sorts of flying and falling, Bright showed that
someone could tame this course, stringing together five technically
superior jumps for just the fourth gold medal ever won by an Aussie
at the Winter Olympics - enough to earn her a phone call from
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Of course, it all came after a wipeout during her first run.
With two of four skeleton runs in the books, the leader is
Britain's Amy Williams, who hasn't even won a medal on the World
Cup circuit this season.
"The sport is so tight between each person that anything can
happen," she said.
All three medalists from 2006 are in the field, with Canada's
gold-medal favorite Mellisa Hollingsworth in third, just
nine-hundredths of a second behind.
American Noelle Pikus-Pace is fifth.
A Japanese slider was disqualified because her skeleton lacked a
The slick track at the Whistler Sliding Center is causing
At least 11 two-man bobsleds have spilled sideways in the first
two days of training. This season's World Cup two-man overall
champion from Switzerland and an Australian were held out of
practice Thursday following crashes Wednesday night.
Practice wrecks happen in bobsledding. But when they happen
within a week of a luger dying in a training accident that causes
things like Thursday's decision to add extra training runs.
Attention everyone watching curling and thinking, "I can do
The U.S. teams might need you.
Americans remained 0-for-Vancouver following losses by the men
and women, both to Denmark by the score of 7-6.
At 0-4, the men are on the brink of elimination; they must win
their remaining five matches to get to the semifinals.
"Something magical would have to happen for us to make the
medal round," U.S. lead John Benton said.
The women are 0-3.
Canada's Christine Nesbitt figures she's had better 1,000-meter
skates. But never one more important.
And few that were any closer. She won by two-hundredths of a
Jennifer Rodriguez was the top American, finishing seventh.
Meanwhile, five-time gold medalist Claudia Pechstein of Germany
won't be competing here after the top court in international sports
rejected her appeal of a suspension for showing abnormal blood
Emil Hegle Svendsen won the men's 20-kilometer individual event,
denying his mentor, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, his sixth Olympic gold.
With a silver, he became the first Olympic biathlete to medal in
the same event in three straight Winter Games.
American Jeremy Teela was a late scratch after waking up with
sinus problems. Tim Burke was the top American at 45th.
Berger dominated from start to finish in the women's
15-kilometer individual race, becoming the first Norwegian woman to
win an Olympic race. Lanny Barnes was 23rd, best by an American
Injured Americans Daron Rahlves (dislocated right hip) and Casey
Puckett (dislocated shoulder) say they're healthy enough to compete
"When you're motivated to get healthy, it's really impressive,
when you do everything you can, how quickly you can come back,"
Could it be - ski-jumping subterfuge?
The Austrians are griping that Switzerland's Simon Ammann - who
won the normal hill event - has improper bindings and wants him to
use different ones for the large hill competition.
The Austrians aren't challenging his win, but will file a
protest if he trots them out Saturday. The head of the Swiss team
says there won't be a change and predicts that a protest would be
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. It was the first time in six years that
"Idol" was topped by a program in its time slot.