Down goes Vonn! Crosby prevents Canada’s near-nightmare with shootout goal to beat SwitzerlandBy Jaime Aron, AP
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Down goes Vonn! Crosby salvages Canada in shootout
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Lindsey Vonn made the kind of mistake that happens sometimes in skiing, even with a medal at stake.
What the Canadian men’s hockey team did won’t be dismissed so easily, even if a medal wasn’t at stake.
A squad of NHL greats supposed to win gold in a sport that means 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 was 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 their jerseys.
Vonn was vying for her second gold medal in as many days, and was leading the super-combined after the downhill portion. Trying to make a hard cut during the slalom leg, she failed to slip a ski inside a gate and wound up losing a ski and going tumbling down the snow.
Her aching shin — which was “killing me” — wasn’t to blame. She simply goofed 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.”
The United States remains comfortably ahead on the medals count, with five golds and 17 overall. Germany is second in both categories.
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 defending champion Hannah Teter (silver) and 2002 champion Kelly Clark (bronze).
— 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 their 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. (For what it’s worth, Canada beat Norway 8-0.)
Phelps sat four rows above center ice and tried to stay out of the spotlight. He wore a gray painters cap pulled down low and a gray scarf tucked near his chin. He remained in his seat giving golf claps while other around him roared following a U.S. goal. He left with 5½ minutes remaining.
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 Olympics.
“For our game, our fans, Gary, we need you, 100 percent,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said at a news conference Bettman attended.
NHL owners don’t like stopping their sport for two weeks so players can join their national teams and the league may not get much visibility in 2014 because the games will be in Sochi, Russia, with the time difference hurting TV viewership.
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.
The slick track at the Whistler Sliding Center is causing problems again.
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. The federation said that was being done “out of an abundance of caution.”
Attention everyone watching curling and thinking, “I can do that.”
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 second.
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 levels.
How do you say “sweep” in Norwegian?
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 since 1994.
Injured Americans Daron Rahlves (dislocated right hip) and Casey Puckett (dislocated shoulder) say they’re healthy enough to compete on Sunday.
“When you’re motivated to get healthy, it’s really impressive, when you do everything you can, how quickly you can come back,” Puckett said.
Maybe Vonn could loan them some Austrian curd cheese.
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 rejected.
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.
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