Olympic roundup: Speedskating gaffe makes wrong kind of Olympic memory
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Bode Miller made the kind of mistake that happens in skiing, especially for a risk-taker like him.
The gaffe made by Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer? Unbelievable.
Kramer went through the grueling 10,000-meter race in what would’ve been record time, but was disqualified for not switching lanes while coming out of a turn about two-thirds into the race.
Here’s the craziest part: Kramer actually made the switch but his coach missed it. Thinking his star was about to make an epic mistake, the coach animatedly motioned for Kramer to switch lanes. Kramer seemed to pause before deciding to follow orders.
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Of all the kooky, costly mistakes made in popular North American sports, it’s hard to find anything that compares. Maybe if Vikings coach Bud Grant had been the one telling defensive end Jim Marshall what to do when he scooped up a fumble and ran to the wrong end zone – and if that had been in the Super Bowl.
That’s how off-the-charts this was.
Kramer certainly should’ve known better. This is a guy who’s won the last three world championships at 5,000 and 10,000 meters; holds the world record at both distances; and already won gold and set an Olympic record in the 5,000 at this Olympics.
“I’ve seen it once or twice in my career,” former speedskating champion Dan Jansen said on NBC, “but never with a top skater and certainly never in the Olympic Games.”
All Miller did was lose control and fail to finish his first run down the giant slalom course
He missed his chance for a record fourth Alpine medal at a single Winter Games. But he notched what could be called a Bode Slam: a gold, a silver, a bronze and a DNF (did not finish).
Elsewhere around the Vancouver Olympics on Tuesday, Canada’s hockey team bounced back with an 8-2 victory over Germany and Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette earned the best score of her career under incredibly emotional circumstances – performing on home ice two days after her mother died of a heart attack shortly after arriving here. She’ll go into the final Thursday night in third place.
Americans won silver in the Nordic combined, making it 26 medals at these games, breaking their record a Winter Olympics not held in the United States. Germany is closing in on the lead, though, with 22 medals.
With a silver in the women’s skicross race, Norway became the first country to reach 300 Winter Olympics medals. Norway became the first country to reach 100 golds last week.
Nasty weather moved back into the area Tuesday, especially in the mountains, which could mess with the schedule Wednesday. There’s a good chance the women’s giant slalom will be delayed.
SPEEDSKATING: Kramer crossed the line with a big smile, believing he’d won. He obviously didn’t notice that he had skated the final eight laps in the same lane as the other skater in his pair.
The only hint was seeing his girlfriend in the stands, her head buried in her hands.
When coach Gerard Kemkers broke the news, Kramer flung his glasses, then stomped the heel of his blade into the ice. Just like that, Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea had the gold and Kramer moved into Olympic infamy, like the U.S. shooter who blew a sure gold medal by shooting at the wrong target during the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I expected to be on the podium but not for the gold,” said Lee, who won silver in the 5,000.
Kramer sat alone on a bench while the three medalists celebrated.
“It is pretty hard now,” Kramer said.
Jonathan Kuck was the top American, finishing eighth.
GIANT SLALOM: Miller almost crashed during the top half of his run, straightened out, then couldn’t stay on line coming out of a gate in the second half.
“I’m taking more risk than everyone else,” Miller told The Associated Press. “That’s partly why I’m able to get medals. It looks easy when you make it. When you crash like today, it’s like, ‘Oh, huh?'”
It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise: he’s yet to finish a run this season in the giant slalom.
His final event is the slalom Saturday.
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway got bronze, joining Miller with three Alpine medals. American Ted Ligety finished ninth.
The women’s event is scheduled for Wednesday, but rain and snow is forecast. That will be Julia Mancuso’s final event in Vancouver. Mancuso, who already has won two silver medals, said she won’t be competing in the slalom, her worst event.
HOCKEY: Jarome Iginla scored twice and new goalie Roberto Luongo was good enough to get the Canadians back on track and into a colossal quarterfinal game against Russia, a matchup many expected for the gold-medal game.
“Hopefully it’s not our biggest game this week,” Luongo said.
The U.S. men’s team will face Switzerland (again) in the quarterfinals. The Swiss advanced with a 3-2 shootout victory over Belarus. The Americans beat them 3-1 last Tuesday.
The two late games were marred by injuries: Slovakia forward Lubos Bartecko leaving on a stretcher after being leveled by a Norway defender, and Czech’s Jaromir Jagr going out in the second period against Latvia with an upper-body injury.
Slovakia put aside the worrisome injury and the anger resulting from the hit that caused it to beat Norway 4-3. The team now moves to the Olympic quarterfinals to play Sweden.
The Czech Republic will play Finland after beating Latvia 3-2 in overtime. Slovakia and Norway were playing later to see who would play Olympic champion Sweden.
All quarterfinals are Wednesday.
NORDIC COMBINED: Johnny Spillane became the first American to win a medal in this event, getting silver earlier in these games. Now he’s got another – and sharing it with his friends.
The team of Spillane, Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong and Brett Camerota was a narrow second in the team relay event, which combined jumping off the large hill, then a 4-by-5 kilometer relay.
FIGURE SKATING: South Korea’s Kim Yu-na came in a huge favorite to win the women’s gold medal, then exceeded expectations.
Kim set a world-best score in the short program, giving her a huge lead over her top rival, Japan’s Mao Asada. Rochette is next, with a decent edge over the rest of the pack.
“It was hard to handle, but I appreciate the support,” she said.
American Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu are fifth and sixth. Nagasu was thrown out of whack when her nose started bleeding halfway through her routine.
BOBSLED: Midway through the women’s competition, the USA-2 sled of Erin Pac and Elana Myers is in second place. The Americans set a track record in their second run, only to have the Canada 1 crew lower it by four-hundredths of a second.
Two other U.S. tandems are tied for sixth.
BIATHLON: About the only thing that went wrong for the Russians was no one near the finish line offering up their flag. That was why Olga Zaitseva slowed to the finish and ended up giving high-fives and blowing kisses.
The Americans were 17th.
SKIERCROSS: What a way to break in a sport: Ashleigh McIvor, who grew up in nearby Whistler and is ranked second in the world, won the final going away.
“Skicross is the newest form of ski racing, but in its essence, it’s been around forever,” she said. “It’s racing your friends from the top of the mountain to the bottom. The IOC is really interested in keeping up with the next generation, and keeping the Olympics cool, and skicross is a great way to do that.”
CURLING: A day after the U.S. men were eliminated, the women were, too, following a loss to China. They lost their finale to Switzerland to finish 2-7, worst in the tournament.
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