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Speedskating

Canada, Germany win; Hedrick ends with silver

By Paul Newberry
Associated Press / February 28, 2010

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RICHMOND, British Columbia - The Canadian men finally won gold at the Olympic speedskating oval, leaving American Chad Hedrick with a silver in the final race of his career.

The Germans repeated as champions of the women’s team pursuit - first with a belly flop across the line, then by less than the length of a skate blade.

Hedrick had hoped to head into retirement with a gold, but the 32-year-old Texan was bothered by a sore right hip yesterday and trailed a pair of 19-year-old teammates, finishing 21-100ths of a second behind the last of the Canadians to cross.

Still, Hedrick leaves behind quite a career: five medals, joining Eric Heiden as the only American men to win that many long-track medals.

Heiden, now a doctor for the US team, led the cheers for Hedrick, Jonathan Kuck, and Brian Hansen from behind the pads heading into the first turn as they saluted the crowd, holding up an American flag.

“This is my fifth medal, all at different distances, a major accomplishment for me,’’ Hedrick said.

Canada’s women captured four individual medals at the Richmond Olympic Oval, but the men were a disappointment until their final race. Maybe they just work better as a team.

Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky, and Mathieu Giroux ensured that “O Canada’’ played at least once for the men during the 15-day competition, winning with a time of 3 minutes 41.37 seconds. The Americans finished the eight-lap race in 3:41.58.

No one cut it closer than the German women.

Matched against the Americans in the semifinals, they appeared to have lost when Anni Friesinger-Postma stumbled on the final lap and fell coming down the last straightaway. Sliding along on her belly, she waved her arms furiously, like a swimmer, then stuck out her skate to trigger the timer.

She buried her head against the ice, believing she had cost her team a spot in the final, then reacted giddily when she realized the Germans had won by 0.23.

Katrin Mattscherodt swapped out for Friesinger-Postma in the final against Japan, teaming with Stephanie Beckert and Daniela Anschutz Thoms to overcome a deficit of nearly two seconds midway through the race.

The Japanese team of Masako Hozumi, Nao Kodaira and Maki Tabata couldn’t hold off the Germans, who defended the title they won four years ago at Turin by two-100ths of a second.

Poland claimed the bronze, overcoming the US when Catherine Raney-Norman failed to keep pace with teammates Jennifer Rodriguez and Jilleanne Rookard. The first two crossed ahead of the Poles, but the time only counts when all three skaters finish. Raney-Norman crossed 1.57 behind the bronze medalists.

Sven Kramer and the Netherlands earned bronze in men’s pursuit, beating Norway by 0.55 in the third-place race with an Olympic-record time that was faster than either of the finalists.