Day 4: Another Olympic flub by Jacobellis; U.S. hockey wins
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Lindsey Jacobellis had to do it. Flying through the air toward the finish line, she reached down and grabbed her snowboard, a stunt similar to the showoff move that cost her a gold medal four years ago.
This time, it was all she could do to salvage something following another Olympic flub.
Jacobellis wobbled after landing a jump early in a boardercross semifinal, couldn’t regain control and clipped a gate, ending her medal chances.
She threw up her arms helplessly, then dropped her hands onto her helmet in anguish. Once she regained control of her emotions, she charged down the run and finished with a flourish.
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In Turin, she got a silver medal as a consolation prize. This time, it’ll only be a picture of her two-handed “truck driver grab.”
“I mean, it’s a bummer,” Jacobellis said. “But … I was like, ‘Still can have some fun in some way.'”
The United States ended up getting shut out of medals Tuesday, falling into second place in the overall chase, stuck at eight while Germany reached nine.
There was some good news for the red, white and blue: the men’s hockey team won its opener, the women’s hockey team dominated again and there’s a lot to look forward to Wednesday, when headliners Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White, Shani Davis and Apolo Anton Ohno all will be in action.
Vonn’s shin still hurts, but she got another day off Tuesday as a heavy snowfall closed the course, forcing the men’s super-combined event to be pushed back to Sunday.
Canadians were excited Tuesday because their two favorite sports cranked up: hockey and curling.
Excitement filled the arena when Sidney Crosby and the boys took the ice, but things turned tense when Canada and Norway played to a scoreless tie after one period. Jarome Iginla got the scoring started early in the second, and it was like a dam bursting. Iginla and Dany Heatley scored twice, and Crosby had three assists on the way to an 8-0 victory over a club lacking a single NHL player.
Canada’s love of hockey is well known. And curling, too, is beloved.
Yep. The atmosphere in the 5,000-seat arena was reminiscent of a Duke-North Carolina basketball game. There were even scalpers. (Seriously.)
“It’s just so much fun to be a part of,” Canada’s skip Kevin Martin said, following a 7-6 victory sealed on the final throw.
Yet it wasn’t a great day for Vancouver organizers. They had to deal with lots more weather issues, timing blunders in biathlon, a spigot going off and spraying water onto the luge track just before the eventual bronze medalist went down and the realization they goofed by putting up a chain-link fence to keep everyone away from the outdoor cauldron.
Well, at least the ice-cleaning machines worked Tuesday, leaving no need for the extra Zamboni that was trucked in from Calgary just in case.
U.S. MEN’S HOCKEY: Bobby Ryan scored late in the first period, and David Backes and Ryan Malone added goals in the second period. Ryan Miller was solid in the net, although he was forced to put tape over the words “Miller Time” painted on his mask. (However, he was allowed to keep a tribute to a late cousin.)
“This is a fairly quiet team, which kind of surprises me. But quietly confident,” U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. “We are a chemistry experiment that’s going to take some time.”
Despite the lack of NHL talent and household names outside of Switzerland, the Swiss club is considered dangerous – largely because of goalie Jonas Hiller.
Russia, led by two goals from two-time reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, topped Latvia 8-2 in the last game of the night.
WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Jenny Potter came to Vancouver with five goals over three previous trips to the Olympics.
After just two games in Vancouver, she’s already scored six times. She’s averaging a hat trick, although that probably is more of a reflection on the competition.
Her latest three-goal-game came in a 13-0 rout of Russia, clinching a spot in next week’s playoffs. The Americans took just two shots in the final period to avoid making this any more humiliating for a young Russian team missing its starting goalie.
BOARDERCROSS: With Jacobellis out of the finals, Maelle Ricker easily won Canada’s second gold of the Vancouver Olympics.
Jacobellis won the consolation race to go down as the fifth-place finisher.
ALPINE DELAYS: The snowstorm left Vonn as happy as a kid getting a snow day from school. She needed the time off after a bumpy training run Monday. She could’ve skipped another training session, but this avoided a decision and meant her foes couldn’t get any work in, either.
“I’m definitely getting antsy,” Vonn said.
Dry weather is forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Of the four Alpine races scheduled so far, only the men’s downhill has been held.
“The situation is challenging,” race director Guenter Hujara said. “But we are quite optimistic. We still have quite a few days in reserve. We will use them if necessary.”
FIGURE SKATING: You know that NBC commentator Dick Button? His claim to fame is being the last man to repeat as Olympic champion, back in 1948 and ’52.
Russian Evgeni Plushenko might soon wear that crown.
Plushenko won the short program and will go into the free skate Thursday night in a tight race with American world champion Evan Lysacek and Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi.
No American has won the gold since Brian Boitano in 1998, and no Japanese skater has ever won the men’s gold.
CURLING: U.S. men curlers better start sweeping faster. Or slower. They need to do something different after losing both of their openers Tuesday: falling 7-5 to a strong German squad and then losing 6-5 to Norway in an extra end.
“It’s one of those weird deals where you’re very close,” U.S. skip John Shuster said.
The Americans are ranked fourth in the world.
The U.S. women blew a three-point lead and lost 9-7 to Japan.
SPEEDSKATING: The ice-cleaners worked!
The South Koreans keep cleaning up, too, with Lee Sang-hwa winning the women’s 500 meters. That makes two gold and a silver in four events at the big oval for a nation that had never won a Winter Olympic gold in any sport except short track
“All my friends won medals, so I had a little bit of pressure,” Lee said. “I was a little bit worried.”
How big of an upset was this? Well, either German world-record-holder Jenny Wolf or China’s Wang Beixing had won the eight World Cup races this season. In the biggest race, though, Wolf got silver, Wang bronze.
LUGE: Tatjana Huefner gave Germany its ninth women’s singles luge gold in 13 Olympic competitions. With Felix Loch’s winning the men’s event, Germany has swept gold for the sixth time, something no other nation has ever done.
Top U.S. hopeful Erin Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, was 16th.
BIATHLON: Both events were marred by problems with the officials who were in charge of timing. Three women were sent out late and two men went out too early, including American Jeremy Teela.
“It is embarrassing,” said Norbert Baier, the International Biathlon Union’s technical delegate. “Why do we have this incompetence?”
Bjorn Ferry won the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit, giving Sweden its first gold medal in biathlon in 50 years. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen had a chance to add to his record medal collection, but missed his last two shots and wound up seventh. Teela was the top U.S. finisher at 24th.
Magdalena Neuner of Germany and Anastazia Kuzmina of Slovakia finished 1-2 in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit, a reversal of their finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint. Sara Studebaker was the top American, finishing 46th.
VENUE WIPEOUT: Another 20,000 folks planning to watch events on Cypress Mountain are out of luck.
Wet, warm weather has wiped out the general-admission, standing room area for watching snowboarding halfpipe, ski cross and snowboard parallel giant slalom. The tickets, which cost $48 to $62, are being refunded, along with the 8,000 tickets already refunded for watching snowboardcross from the same spot.
All told, the 28,000 tickets to be refunded will cost organizers around $1.44 million, which is a negligible portion of their $249 million ticketing revenue.
“The snow is washed way to the point where people can punch through and potentially step in a place where there’s two big straw bales,” said Caley Denton, vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing for VANOC. “We’ve had people going down to their knees.”
TV RATINGS: The Winter Olympics are a big hit for NBC, drawing 15 percent more viewers through the first four nights than the 2006 Turin Games.
“We are really thrilled by the performance of the Olympics,” said Alan Wurtzel, NBC Universal’s top research executive.
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