New England Patriots vs New York Jets, 10/16/2014, at Gillette Stadium ... Find Tickets

 
< Back to front page Text size +
all entries with the category

Winter Olympics

Snowboard technician Curtis Bacca is the wax whisper at Olympics

Posted by Dan Egan February 17, 2014 07:31 AM
Curtis Bacca has been the magic sauce behind gold medals, World Cup wins and X Games champions for two decades as the US Ski and Snowboard technician for big names like, Kyle Rasmussen, Shawn Palmer, and two time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott.

Bacca is one of the few American-born "wax techs" to have such honors.

Curtis Bacca.jpg

Hailing from Sun Valley, Idaho, where he runs an elite ski and snowboard shop that specializes in high-end race snowboards, he has the reputation of something of a mystic.

"I have won the big races because my boards are fast, and they are fast because Bacca works on them. I don't ask him why, I just know that they are," Wescott said.

Bacca himself can't say for sure what the exact formula is for a quick ski or snowboard, but knows it's a mix between science and technology,

"It's intuitive, just by walking around I can tell by the feel of the snow and the temp in the air what will win on a certain day. When my athletes don't win, I get mad and do more research. I'm testing all the time," Bacca said.

He prides himself on being a "note taker" and knows that after 20 years of World Cup and Olympics racing, his experience is as valuable as the new technology.

"I can remember what wax, what weather, and what conditions won in France in 1992," Bacca said. "And that is the value in being around this for a long time. Certain situations come up and you know what to do with them."

He works on the equipment of Lindsey Jacobellis, who won a silver medal at the 2006 Torino Olympics, has 26 World Cup wins, nine X Games medals (seven gold), and has been dominating the circuit for almost seven straight seasons.

Becca causally waxes, scrapes and prepares test boards for each day.

"We techs share a bit of information, but not too much. It's an individual sport and I want my athletes to win, and win big," Bacca said.

Quincy native gets firsthand look at Sochi's transformation

Posted by Dan Egan February 12, 2014 04:45 AM
Paul Noonan really likes living in Russia, speaking Russian, and just being in Russia. Ever since he came here on student exchange program in high school, he has had a connection to this place.

Now he's working on the logistic crew for NBC at the Olympics, and is enjoying his five-month work assignment in Sochi.

“A lot has changed since I first came in November,” said Noonan, who is originally from Quincy. “The roads, security, and the Olympic Village, it all came together right at the end.”

He studied Russian for four years at BB&N high school in Cambridge, where he was motivated by his Russian teacher, Armen Dedekian, who recently retired after teaching for 36 years at BB&N.

Dedekian has led more than 40 trips to Russia with students since 1971, and the school has been a leader in Russian exchange programs. The influence of this program has been far reaching. Alexander Vershbow ('70) studied Russian at BB&N and went on to become US ambassador to Russia from 2001-2005.

“Paul was a serious hockey player and that was his motivation for Russia also, as he knew everything about the Russian professional hockey players playing in the NHL, Dedekian said.

Noonan and his Russian friends believe the Olympics have transformed not only Sochi, but the image of Russian’s in general.

“The message of the Olympics is to celebrate the country that hosts it,” Noonan said. “What they built here and what they are doing here is really impressive. The Russians are great hosts.

“The Olympics are about doing great things, whether you're participating in them or just coming to see them. They motivated me to be a part of them in anyway I could.”

He’ll be here after most of us have gone home, and he’ll have the perspective of how the Olympic wave rolled and rolled out of Sochi and he’ll have connections with the people of this country that will live here long after world sets its sights on the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

Loon Mountain Ski Patrol working on Super G in Sochi

Posted by Dan Egan February 11, 2014 12:34 AM

Eddie Sacco and Gerry Brown have been on the ski patrol at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire for more than 30 years. Their expertise in mountain rescue has brought them to three Olympics – Salt Lake City in 2004, Vancouver in 2010 and now in Sochi, Russia.

At the games, these are the guys who set the safety fences, spray the dye in the snow, and are the first responders to the athletes when they fall and get hurt. Sacco and Brown handle races on the FIS World Cup in Lake Louise, Canada, and all throughout North America.

As part of their job, they get to see the racing action closer than just about everyone except the racers themselves.

“It’s heart-pounding,” Sacco said. “They’re doing between 85 and 100 miles an hour going right past you, and in total control and you’re just in awe.”

We caught up with them after Julia Mancuso's bronze medal run Monday in the Super Combined.

Loon Patrol.JPG

Eddie Sacco (left) and Gerry Brown are on the Loon Ski Patrol

New England's Devin Logan and Annalise Drew making Olympic history

Posted by Dan Egan January 30, 2014 10:27 AM

Two New England women will be a part of Olympics history at the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia by competing in the first skiing slopestyle and halfpipe events.

Devin Logan hails from Mount Snow, Vt., and qualified for the slopestyle event by winning the Dew Tour this past December. Annalise Drew, from Andover, will be launching into the halfpipe in Sochi. This is the first time these two events have been in the Olympics for skiers.

Here's the audio of my Radio BDC interview with Drew:

The East Coast has long been seen as having some of the best parks and pipes in North America because of its sophisticated grooming and snowmaking.

Drew is the first woman to throw a "1260" in the halfpipe in competition, which she did last year at the 2013 X Games. Her qualification to Sochi came this year through her consistent top finishes in qualifying events. She currently lives and trains in Vail Colorado.

Anna Drew Season from TSC on Vimeo.

Logan, who recently finished first at the Dew Tour and fifth at the X Games, believes her East Coast roots as a key to her success.

"Mount Snow provided me with the perfect launching pad for my career," Logan said. "In Sochi, I'll be ready for all conditions."

Listen to my RadioBDC interview with Logan below:


A wall of fame

Posted by Yoon S. Byun March 2, 2010 11:35 AM

Professional street painter creates mural for retired US Olympians (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff).

Get Adobe Flash player

Streams

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 28, 2010 11:52 PM

Vancouver scenes during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

Get Adobe Flash player

Daily snapshot: February 29

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 28, 2010 12:00 AM

A final, and then farewell: No detailed description is required today. The United States and Canada face off in an incredibly intriguing gold medal men's hockey game at 3 p.m. The closing ceremonies commence at 9 p.m.

The mood at the latter will be determined by the outcome of the former.

McGuire: 'It's Ryan Miller's moment'

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 27, 2010 09:04 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- We caught up with NBC men's hockey analyst Pierre McGuire this afternoon to get his take on a certain vent so heavily anticipated here that it is expected to be the most watched program in the history of Canadian television.

The Canada-US gold medal game, of course.

(Seriously, what else would it be? The SalmonMasters finals?)

McGuire, who has New England ties -- one of his first coaching jobs was at Babson College in the mid-'80s and he later served as assistant general manager and coach of the Hartford Whalers -- offered several insights on what each team might do and needs to do . . . including these three things that must happen for the United States to emerge with the gold Sunday.

"Ryan Miller has to be Jim Craig," McGuire said, referencing the unforgettable performance of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" goalie. "That's No. 1. No. 2, [the US] can't give up a lot of odd-man rushes. They can't be over-aggressive, because Canada will eat them alive. And then the third thing is, they have to capitalize on their power play. They do those three things, they can disappoint a lot of Canadians."

Miller made 42 saves on 45 shots on the teams' first meeting in Vancouver, a stunning 5-3 US victory last Sunday.

McGuire said Miller's performance in that game can't be understated, but it may need to be duplicated.

"I'm not sure that whole thing was reported correctly -- Miller deserved even more credit than he got," said McGuire. "The scoring chances were unbelievably tilted in Canada's favor. I mean, he was the story of that game, he was spectacular.

"One thing I think they'd like to do differently, the US, is be a little bit more physical than they were in the first game," he added. "It's really important for them to develop a physical presence early without picking up penalties."

A few of McGuire's other sentiments and opinions:

On whether the US forwards are too quick for Canada's defensemen: "I'm not buying that theory. I think that's fluff. Because [Canada defensemen] Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Scotty Niedermayer, they can all skate. [Chris] Pronger is the only slow guy back there, and he's got such a long stick that he's not going to be intimidated by speed. He goes against [superstar Alex] Ovechkin all the time in Philly. I think that's one of those things where people are reaching. The American speed quotient is high, that's true, they're extremely quick. But I don't think that's going to be a deciding issue in the game."

On whether it's up to the individual play of Canada's stars to determine the outcome: "No. Canada has to play the same way it played against Russia [a 7-3 victory in the quarterfinals]: total team commitment to defense, offense, and matchups, the forecheck, shotblocking, everything. Canada, when they played against Russia, that was their best game of the tournament, and the reason why they were successful is that they took away the Russians' skill and will. They were physical, they took away space, they didn't give the Russians a lot of room, and they dominated because of that."

On whether the loss to the US actually benefited Canada's players, since it meant they had to play an additional game and allowed them to jell as a team: "Every player I've talked to on the team says it did, because it allowed [Eric] Staal to go with [Sidney] Crosby and [Jarome Iginla] and stabilized their lines, it helped create roles for the players that they were comfortable with, and it gave them confidence going into the game against Russia. So the answer is, absolutely."

On any advantage Canada and Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo might have since he's playing in his home arena: "He knows the building here, he knows the nooks and crannies of the boards. I think it's more optics than anything else. [Martin] Brodeur [who struggled in the loss to the US and hasn't played since] could have won that game against Germany [an 8-2 win for Canada] just as easy as Luongo did and I think Brodeur could have won the game against Russia just as easy as Luongo did. There wasn't a lot of testing going. You know, [Friday night], I think the Slovaks through 40 minutes only had 13 shots on goal, so I think Brodeur would have been OK in that game too."

On the importance of scoring first: "The first goal is extremely crucial, especially in a single-elimination game. When you score first in a deciding game of a Stanley Cup playoff series or a gold medal game in the Olympics, the team that scores first usually wins. And especially here, the tension is so amazingly overpowering that it's critical that everybody is energized -- the players, the coaches, and the fan base, because it's going to be a Canadian crowd. . . . If the Americans get it, it's going to be a really tough game for Canada to win. But if Canada gets a goal early, it's got a pretty good chance to be a successful afternoon."

On one player who could be the determining factor: "This is Ryan Miller's moment. Ryan Miller has to stand and deliver. If he doesn't, I think it's a tough game for the Americans to win. And for Canada, if their star players don't score, then it becomes a really difficult game for them to win."

Bode on Bode

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 27, 2010 03:29 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It took just eight seconds for Bode Miller's bid for Olympic history to be denied. That's how long it took for the Franconia, N.H. to ski off course during the first run of the men's slalom this morning at foggy Whistler Mountain, earning a disqualification in his final event here.

But no matter, really. Miller did not secure a fourth Alpine medal, which would have been a record for a single skier at the Winter Olympics, but he does depart with a gold, silver, and bronze -- not mention a repaired reputation after his disappointing bad-boy performance in Turin, Italy four years ago.

After his race today -- the final of his five events here -- the 32-year-old Miller was gracious and somewhat reflective regarding his approach today and his third career Olympics overall. Here are a few of his comments:

On his Olympic experience here overall: “I really couldn't be much happier. To have three medals, and the two medals I didn't get I skied hard. I came out, I was ready, I was prepared that's all the stuff you can do. I know the risk I'm taking -- not many people do.

“This was challenging today in a lot of different ways. But I was still ready to go and prepared to do it. It doesn't always go your way. But overall this Olympics was amazing how many things went my way.

On how his experience here affected his attitude toward skiing: "In terms of medals, it didn't change anything. In terms of skiing, it's really positive. There are sneaky little facts that make the Olympics great. I was able to tap into them and use them to my advantage."

On why he skied out in the slalom: "The snow was really grabby. I think that's part of what's causing so many problems for the guys. We haven't skied on anything like this all year -- it's the first time any of us have seen this snow. Your skis work totally differently. That's throwing guys off and making it that much more challenging.”

On his aggressiveness: “I wanted to finish in the slalom -- I wanted to do everything I could. I wanted to go out and ski hard, 100-percent slalom and see where I stacked up.

"It's unfortunate to make a mistake so early in the course before you really have a rhythm for it. But that's the way slalom goes. When you take risks in slalom, you don't only take risks on the bottom half. You take it from the very first gate. And if you don't, you can give away a tenth of a second on the first two gates.

"You have to be willing to go out and pound through the very first gates 100 percent and make time every single spot you can, especially if you're me, there's chances you're going to be losing it little bits here and there.”

On how he will approach the rest of the World Cup season: "I'm going to stay focused, keep working hard, and keep busting my ass."

Greatest respect reserved for cross-country skiers

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff February 27, 2010 02:54 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There are all kinds of amazing and wonderful athletes here, and I am especially dazzled by all those men and women who launch themselves skyward, proceed to do all manner of flipping, spinning and twisting, and then land adroitly on a pair of skis or a snowboard.

But when it comes to sheer fitness, and I am a thousand percent sure all the other athletes would agree, the people who take the prize are the cross-country skiers. Therefore, the two athletes who deserve our greatest respect of all at these Winter Games are Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk, who won today's Ladies' 30 K race in a desperate finish-line lunge to defeat Norway's Marit Bjoergen, and the man who wins the grandaddy of them all, Sunday's 50K extravaganza.

There is a reason why the Marathon is the tradition final event of the Summer Games. And there is a similar reason why the 50K is the final individual event at the Winter Games. But there is also a difference. As my colleague Scott Thurston says, "The 50K makes the Marathon look like the Jingle Bell Run."

Looking ahead - 2014

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 27, 2010 12:20 AM

Globe reporter John Powers on the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

Get Adobe Flash player

Daily snapshot: February 27

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 27, 2010 12:01 AM

Fast track to gold? You know your bobsled team has had a pretty fine day when it makes two runs . . . and establishes a new track record both times. USA 1, which includes Steven Holcomb, Steve Mesler, Justin Olsen, and Curt Tomasevicz, did just that Friday to grab first place midway through the four-man bobsled competition. With a combined time of 1 minute 41.75 seconds, USA 1 holds a 0.40 lead on Canada 1 and is 0.44 ahead of Germany 1 entering today's final two runs. 5:40 p.m

Once more for Bode: Bode Miller has added three medals to his collection during his time in Vancouver (OK, technically Whistler), making the Franconia, N.H. native the most decorated male Olympic skier in US history. He'll go for a fourth medal -- and the sixth of his Olympic career -- during the slalom, the final Alpine event of these games. Fellow US skier Ted Ligety also has a shot at a spot on the podium, which two New Englanders, Jimmy Cochran (Keene, N.H.) and 20-year-old Nolan Kasper (Warren, Vt.) will try to make their marks. 4:45 p.m.

And don't forget . . . . . . to watch speedskater Chad Hedrick's final Olympic race as the US battles Canada for the gold in the men's team pursuit (4:55 p.m.). Also, if you're a curling enthusiast, the men's final between Canada -- which is 10-0 here but has some ghosts to exorcise -- and Norway begins at 6 p.m..


Ohno DQ'd in 500, teams up for bronze in 5,000

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 10:33 PM

Update, 11:15:The US 5,000-meter relay team earns the bronze -- giving Ohno his third medal in Vancouver and his eighth overall -- but the night belongs to the hosts:

Hamelin follows his victory in the 500 meters by leading Canada to gold in the 5,000, with a total time among the four team members of 6 minutes 44.24 seconds.

* * *
For a moment, it appeared Apolo Anton Ohno would collect his third medal of the Vancouver Olympics and the eighth of his record-setting short-track speedskating career.

But the moment, as they so often are in the frenetic sport, was fleeting. Two skaters had wiped out around the final turn of the 500-meters race, and Ohno, in the fourth and final position and struggling to find an opening, appeared to be a possible culprit. The replay confirmed as much to official, and instead of owning a silver medal, Ohno was disqualified.

Replay showed that Ohno made slight contact -- grazed is probably the operative word -- with Canada's Francois-Louis Tremblay while coming around the final turn. It's debatable whether it actually affected Trembley, but a split-second later he went sprawling into the boards, as did Korea's Si-Bak Sung almost immediately thereafter.

Ohno crossed the line, wobbling, behind gold medalist Charles Hamelin of Canada, who was the only racer to make it through the race cleanly. Ohno smiled but did not celebrate after the race; the look on his face seemed to suggest he knew this one was going to a jury, and the verdict wasn't certain to go in his favor.

Hamelin took the gold in 40.981 seconds. Silver went to Sung, while Tremblay took the bronze. Had everyone remained upright, Ohno would have been stride-for-stride with Tremblay for the bronze.

Coincidentally, Ohno advanced to the finals by avoiding crashes in both of his first two heats.

All together now:

That's short track!

Ohno does have a shot at one more medal tonight, in the 5,000-meter relay finals, which are coming up shortly.

And we shouldn't neglect to mention that the US team already has secured one medal tonight at Pacific Coliseum -- Katherine Reutter won the silver medal in women’s 1,000-metter short-track.


US assured of tying own medals standard

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 05:18 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It's another drizzly day here in Vancouver. But for the US Olympic team as a whole, the forecast remains spectacular.

By virtue of qualifying for tomorrow’s gold medal final in long-track speedskating team pursuit and by earning a spot in Sunday’s gold medal hockey game, Team USA is assured of no less than tying its record 34 medals won at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The US could add to that total in the final days of the Games. Short-track speedskating star Apolo Anton Ohno, who is already the most decorated Winter Olympian in US history with seven medals, including a pair here, goes for two more tonight when he competes twice in the 500 meters and the 5000-meter relay at Pacific Coliseum.

Before the Vancouver Games, the most medals the US had ever won at a non-US hosted Winter Games was 25 during the last Winter Olympics in Turino, Italy.

The US has topped the medal standings at only one other Olympic Winter Games – the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Games, when its athletes collected 12 medals.

The record for most medals won by a nation in a single Olympic Winter Games is 36, set by Germany at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

US finishes off Finland, 6-1

Posted by Kevin Paul Dupont, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 03:07 PM

THIRD PERIOD


USA date in gold-medal game on Sunday official. Yanks drub Finland, 6-1, to advance to championship for first time since 2002 (Salt Lake).
Will take on winner of tonight's match between Canada and Slovakia.

Final shots: 25-25.

With 2:30 to go, smattering of USA fans begin to chant, ''We want Canada!....We want Canada!''


Finns finally get on board at 14:46, cut US lead to 6-1. Miettinen tees up slapper high in left wing circle and deflects to top right corner off of US defenseman. Finnish and pro-Canada fans begin chanting, ''Thomas.....Thom-as......Thom....''

With 8:00 to play, USA still with 6-0 lead.

Thomas takes over USA net with 11:31 to play. First break for Miller, the starting netminder for all five games here at Olympus.

With about 12 minutes to go, Thomas goes to room to get gear. Soon to enter game.

Thomas remains on bench for USA. Looks as if Miller will go distance, despite USA needing less than 13 minutes of first period to stake 6-0 lead.

SECOND PERIOD

Score remains 6-0, USA, at end of 40:00. USA with 22-11 shot lead.

7:00 to go, Yanks still with 6-0 lead.


Other than Jarrko Ruutu's 12 minutes in penalties, a very quiet period.


Thomas remains on USA bench, Miller still in net.


FIRST PERIOD

First period in books. USA with 6-0 lead on strength of 13-4 shot advantage. Yanks all but certain to face either Canada or Slovakia in Sunday's championship game.

Wonder if Thomas gets to move in net for period or two of appreciation duty.

Each time a goal is scored, a loud horn shakes the building, somewhat like at the TD Garden. Checking now if horn operator is seeking treatment for carpal tunnel of right index finger.


OK, stop the insanity, US makes it 6-0 at 12:46
. Stastny shovels in easy forehander off of short dish from Langenbrunner. Gets any easier, coach Ron Wilson might ask Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to take a shift at forward, in full pads.

What a beating. US pots 5-0 lead at 12:31. Kane connects with wrister from right wing faceoff dot, beating Backstrom stick-side to far (left) post.

Essentially all ove at 10:08 when USA makes it 4-0. Kane pots backhander near right post after he collects own rebound from a stuff attempt on left side. Niskala fails: 1. to get loose puck and 2. to pick up the pint-sized Kane. Backstrom replaces the bedraggled Kiprusoff on the Suomi net.

USA increases lead to 3-0 with 8:36 gone. With Lydman in penalty box for boarding Brown, Erik Johnson fires in forehander from low in right wing circle, Pavelski making key diagonal feed from near left post. Finns call time out. Getting ugly.

Yanks on march, up lead to 2-0 at 6:22. With Niskala in box for interference, Parise pops out to open left post and makes forehand stuff of perfect Stastny feed. Looking like easy passage to gold game.

USA gets on board with 1-0 lead with only 2:04 gone. Grand faux pas by Kiprusoff in Finn's net. He wanders straight out of cage to handle routine loose puck and clears it directly on stick of the advancing Malone, who fires 30-footer into empty net. Linemate Kessel, parked at left post, acts as witness to perhaps the Games' easiest goal.

Underway here at Canada Hockey Place. Team USA within 60 minutes of reaching Sunday's gold medal final.

Gorgone zips through qualifying

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 02:40 PM

Boston's Michelle Gorgone advanced out of the qualifying round in the parallel giant slalom competition on Cypress Mountain this morning.

Her time of 40.19 in her first of two runs was the fastest among all snowboarders and earned her a berth in the field of 16 finalists. Those races begin at 3:15 p.m.

With a solid result in the bank she took a less aggressive second run and finished with a 1:24.63 combined, with her 44.44 the slowest second run among the qualifiers.

Gorgone is aiming to become just the second US medalist in parallel GS since it became an Olympic sport in 1998.

US-Finland live blog/chat wrap

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 02:23 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- We barely had time to fire up our interactive live blog/chat this afternoon before the US had already snatched control of today's men's hockey semifinal matchup with Finland, scoring six -- yes, six -- first-period goals. Relive the magic of the US's 6-1 win -- which assures it of a silver medal -- by clicking the "replay" button below. And remember: We'll do it all again right here for the gold-medal game Sunday.

Mistaken identity

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 12:07 PM

To borrow a phrase that seems to have gained enormous currency among athletes here at the 21st Winter Games, I [naughty-worded] up.

The Canadian goaltender who blanked the Americans to win gold on Thursday was 23-year old Shannon Szabados, not Kim St Pierre. I got the respective numbers mixed up, 33 and 31, and once the idea got into my head it was firmly locked there. It is regrettable, and there is no excuse. But whoever she was, that was some darn good goaltending, eh?

Whistler Village

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 26, 2010 12:47 AM

A look at the host city and its Aboriginal cultural center. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

Get Adobe Flash player

Daily snapshot: February 26

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 12:41 AM

How about nine? Apolo Anton Ohno has won two medals here in Vancouver already, making him the most decorated US Winter Olympics athlete of all time. (Two golds + two silvers + three bronzes = A heck of a trophy case.) The popular short-track dynamo has a chance to add two more tonight in the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay. But he might not be the only story for the US on the short track at Pacific Coliseum. Katherine Reutter is a medal contender in the women's 1,000 meters. 9 p.m.

Go, go, Gorgone: The US will have just one representative in the women's parallel giant slalom at Cypress Mountain -- Boston's own Michelle Gorgone. Gorgone will attempt to become just the second US medalist since the event debuted in Nagano in 1998. There are two morning qualifying runs in the parallel GS, with a field of 16 racers advancing to the finals at 3:15 p.m.

And don't forget . . . . . . men's ice hockey, of course. (Not that you would. We're not accusing.) Ryan Miller and the United States face Finland in one semifinal, while Canada -- which looked unstoppable against Russia and has 15 goals in its past two games -- takes on Slovakia in the other. Fair to say we're all hoping for a rematch of the US's 5-3 win Sunday? Because they sure are up here. US-Finland: 3 p.m.; Canada-Slovakia: 9:30 p.m.

Silver for Peterson

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 25, 2010 09:50 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When Jeret Peterson landed the most daring jump in men's aerials, "The Hurricane," he also landed something else: a silver medal.

Peterson's score of 247.21 -- the tally of his two jumps in the competition, including the 128.62 he received for executing the five twist and three flips "The Hurricane" demands -- was good for second place in the men's aerials competition tonight at Cypress Mountain.

Peterson was in the middle of the pack after the first round of jumps, fifth among 12 competitors. After completing his second jump, Peterson rejoiced immediately, waving his arms in the air, smiling and pumping his fists, and hugging and high-fiving several people standing along the edge of the mixed zone. When his score was posted, his celebration was justified -- he moved into gold-medal position with just four aerialists remaining. His score for his second jump was the third-highest for any single jump in the competition.

Peterson was eventually bumped from the top slot by Belarus's Alexei Grishin, the second-to-last aerialist to take on the ramp. Grishin, who won a bronze in Salt Lake City eight years ago but did not medal in 2006 in Turin, Italy, finished with a combined score of 248.41, just 1.20 points ahead of Peterson.

Kyle Nissen of Canada led after the first round, but he received just a 112.39 on his second jump, finishing fifth overall with a score of 239.31 to put him behind behind silver medalist Liu Zhongqing of China (242.53) and fourth-place finisher Ryan St. Onge of the US (239.93).

The medal comes with a touch of redemption for Peterson, a three-time Olympian who finished ninth in the event in 2002 at Salt Lake City and seventh in 2006 at Turin, Italy. Four years ago, Peterson couldn't complete the landing on "The Hurricane," and he was later sent home from the games after punching a friend in the face.

The medal is the third for the US in the event, along with the gold by Eric Bergoust (1998) and silver by New Hampshire's Joe Pack (2002).

* * *

9:58 p.m. Peterson' gets bumped to silver by Belarus's Alexei Grishin. Only Canada's Kyle Nissen remains, so he is assured of at least a bronze medal.

China's Liu Zhongqing is second with a score of 242.53.

9:52 p.m.: Judging by his jubiliation after returning to earth, Jered Peterson just nailed "The Hurricane," also knowns as a back/full/triple-full/full combo that includes five spins and three spins . . .

. . . and his score confirms his gravity-defying, disorienting-just-to-watch second jump. Peterson takes over the top spot from St. Onge, scoring a 128.62 on a jump that had a 4.900 degree of difficulty.

His score of 247.21 is nearly eight points better than that of St. Onge, who sits in silver-medal position.

There are four aerialists remaining, so at the least, Peterson appears to have a good shot at a medal.

Update, 9:42: Five aerialists into the second round, and Ryan St. Onge of the US has the lead with a combined score of 239.93 after a second jump of 124.66.

With seven skiers with higher first-round scores still to come, it's unlikely he'll hold on to the top spot, but it was an impressive second jump nonetheless.

Update, 9:34: Because they jump in reverse order of finish, Peterson will jump eighth in the second round, just as he did in the first.

Funny little item from the scene: There is a white couch set up in the mixed zone for those who are in the top three positions. When someone is bumped from the top three, they have to get up and leave. It probably looks more awkward than it is. Given that this is on NBC, it's a mild surprise Jay Leno isn't sitting at a desk next to them throwing out one-liners that are weaker than . . . well, this one.

I'll stop.

Update, 9:25: So after the first of two rounds is complete, Jeret Peterson medal hopes remain in decent shape.

He's in fifth place, having been bumped down one more spot by the last of 12 jumpers, China's Jia Zongyang, who took over fourth place.

Canadian Kyle Nissen remains in the top spot, but his score is only 8.35 higher than Peterson's. The scores of each aerialists two jumps are combined to determine the winner.

Think it's time for a Hurricane warning?

Update, 9:15: Not a bad jump at all by Peterson, but if he is going to medal, he's going to have to nail "The Hurricane."

Peterson is in fourth place after his back/full/double/double-full maneuver, with four of the 12 competitors remaining. His jump had a degree of difficulty of 4.425 -- the same as that of eight others in the first round -- and he received a score of 118.57 from the judges.

He appeared to smoothly deliver all of his moves while in the air but stumbled a bit upon landing, though he did not fall. He celebrated as if he thought the score would be higher than it was, pumping his fist and hugging a few people in Team USA clothing along the edge of the mixed zone.

Ryan St. Onge of the US is in seventh place with one aerialist remaining.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The men's aerials are underway at Cypress Mountain. The conditions are considerably improved over last night, when the women's aerialists competed in foggy, snowy conditions.

We're keeping an eye on Jeret Peterson, who goes eighth in the first of two jumps. Peterson is expected to attempt his signature move, "The Hurricane," in his second jump. It's dangerous and difficult -- it includes five midair spins and three flips and has the highest degree of difficulty, 4.900, of any jump any aerialist will attempt tonight.

His first jump will be coming up momentarily -- the sixth jumper, Belarus's Alexei Grishin, just completed his first attempt a second ago, earning a 120.58 to take second place. Canada's Kyle Nissen is first at 126.92 through six competitors.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Peterson's difficult (to say the least) background, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote an outstanding, richly detailed column about him Tuesday. Here's the link.

Kim takes home the gold

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff February 25, 2010 09:49 PM


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- South Korea's Kim Yu Na, skating with the weight of a country on her tiny shoulders, delivered a superb performance and ran away with the gold before a packed Pacific Coliseum.

Kim landed a beautiful triple lutz/triple toe opening combination that set the tone for her skate, which resulted in a world-record score of 228.56 -- a personal best by more than 18 points.

She became the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold since American Tara Lipinski in 1998.

"I can't believe it,'' said Kim, 19. "I did my performances very clean. I don't know why I cried. This is the first time I have cried after my performance and i'm surprised I cried.''

Japan's Mao Asada took the silver with a 205.50, and Canadian Joannie Rochette won bronze (202.64) and the admiration of all those who watched,

"I feel proud and the result did not matter,'' said Rochette, skating just days after the death of her mother. "I'm happy to be on the podium. It was a lifetime project for me and my mom, and we achieved that.''

US teenager Mirai Nagasu turned in an excellent effort for a girl making her world debut and climbed from sixth after the short program to finish fourth. Teammate Rachael Flatt finished seventh.

"I think my best years are yet to come,'' said Nagasu. "At 16, you don't have the experience and the maturity that they [the medalists] skate with, so hopefully I will. I just thought about how I wanted to get here. It's been my dream since i was a little girl.

"I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep the USA trend of making the podium. I hope I can make it up at the next Olympics.''

.
Update, 11:41: Rochette brings the Canadian crowd to its feet. Despite staggering out of the triple flip and skipping the late double axel, a very credible performance, especially in the wake of her mother's death. Blowing kisses to her mother in the kiss-and-cry.Should be good for bronze, unless Mirai Nagasu has a perfect skate.

If she makes the podium, it's the first medal by a Canadian woman since Liz Manley's silver in 1988 in Calgary.

Update: 11:37: Even with the two triple axels, which might have been downgraded for incomplete rotations, the double-footed triple flip on the triple-double-double combination and the singled triple loop did Mao Asada in. Canadian favorite
Joannie Rochette is next.

Update, 11:29: A superb skate under great pressure. Hitting the triple-triple was vital and landing the flip was key. If she wins, she'll be the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold since Tara Lipinski in 1998. Bet the house.

The gold medal could be decided in the first 30 seconds. Asada has to hit both triple axels to have a chance and even then it might not be enough.

Update, 11:23: Kim Yu Na is next. She had a lead of nearly 5 points over Mao Asada after the short program but has a less demanding free skate since she doesn't do a triple axel. Her most difficult element is in the beginning -- a triple lutz-triple toe combination. But her next jump -- the triple flip -- may be trickier. She fell on it at Skate America, where Rachael Flatt beat her in the long program.
.
Update, 11:13: Miki Ando of Japan is up next. She is a former world champion and the reigning bronze med\alist. Since she's more than 6 points behind Joannie Rochette in fourth, she'll need a near-perfect performance to move up because she has the easiest program of the contenders......

Nice program by Ando, but she lost some points by doing the triple loop instead of the flip and had to fight to land the triple toe. Since Rochette's planned jumps are more then 3 points higher, it'll be a stretch to medal.

Update, 11:11: Rachael Flatt of the US begins her program at precisely 11:06 and turns in a typically rock-solid skate She'll get a 10 percent bonus for her final seven jumps because they came in the second half of her program. The performance will put substantial pressure on Miki Ando and Joannie Rochette to perform cleanly.....

The marks are in and she was hit with downgraded scoring, probably for trouble with the first lutz. She sits in second.

Update, 10:22 p.m.: The planned program and song for the top six, with a couple of things worth noting. Japan's Mao Asada, in second place, will open with a triple axel and a triple axel/double toe combination. None of the other five will attempt a triple axel, rarely seen in women's skating.. However, the triple LUTZ/triple toe combination is worth more than Asada's triple/double combination, and the triple FLIP/triple toe combo is worth just as much. Got it?


RACHAEL FLATT, US (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini)
Double axel
Triple flip/triple toe
Triple lutz
Flying camel spin
Change foot upright spin
Triple loop
Triple lutz/double toe
Spiral sequence
Triple flip/double toe/double loop
Triple salchow
Circular step sequence
Flying change foot combination spin

MIKI ANDO, Japan (Cleopatra)
Triple lutz/double loop
Triple salchow/double axel sequence
Triple flip
Change foot combination spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple salchow
Flying sit spin
Triple toe
Double axel/double loop/double loop
Straight line step sequence
Flying combination spin

KIM YU NA, South Korea (Concerto in F, Gershwin)
Triple lutz/triple toe
Triple flip
Double axel/double toe/double loop
Flying combination spin
Spiral sequence
Double axel/triple toe
Triple salchow
Triple lutz
Straight line step sequence
Double axel
Flying sit spin
Change foot combination spin

MAO ASADA, Japan (Bells of Moscow, Rachmaninoff)
Triple axel
Triple axel/double toe
Triple flip/double loop
Flying sit spin
Spiral sequence
Triple loop
Triple flip/double loop/double loop
Triple toe
Double axel
Flying combination spin
Straight line step sequence
Change foot combination spin

JOANNIE ROCHETTE, Canada (Samson and Delilah, St. Saens)
Triple lutz/double toe/double loop
Triiple flip
Triple loop
Flying change foot sit spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple toe/triple salchow sequence
Double axel/double axel sequence
Change foot combination spin
Triple salchow
Circular step sequence
Flying sit spin

MIRAI NAGASU, US (Carmen selection)
Triple lutz/double toe/double loop
Double axel/triple toe
Triple flip
Flying sit spin
Layback spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple loop/double axel sequence
Double axel
Triple toe
Straight line step sequence
Change foot combination spin


*********

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- They're underway in the women's free skate at Pacific Coliseum, but the final group -- the top six after Tuesday's short program -- won't take the ice until after 11 p.m. EST. So if you're only into watching the medal contenders, feel free to tune into your other prime-time shows and check back here,

Our resident expert on figure skating and everything Olympic, John Powers, will be providing instant analysis at the end of each four-minute routine..

Here's the order in which the podium hopefuls will skate:

Rachael Flatt, US (fifth after short program) at 11:06
Miki Ando, Japan (fourth) at 11:13
Kim Yu Na, Korea (first) at 11:21
Mao Asada, Japan (second) at 11:29
Joannie Rochette, Canada (third) at 11:37
Mirai Nagasu, US (sixth) at 11:45

We'll post the planned routines for each skater shortly.

Canada-USA gold game updates

Posted by Kevin Paul Dupont, Globe Staff February 25, 2010 06:05 PM

THIRD PERIOD

All done at 5:33 pm. PT Canada wins gold with 2-0 shutout of USA.
Final shots: Canada 29, USA 28.

Update: USA defenseman Molly Engstrom named tournament's best blueliner. Teammates Angela Ruggiero (D), Molly Engstrom (D) and Jenny Potter (F)) all were names to the all-star team.

Cahow thwarts 2-on-1 Canadian break-in at 17:00. Still 2-0.

Midway through period, Canadians still with 2-0 lead.

Chants of ''Can-a-da!....Can-a-da'' erupt when hosts rush puck.

Puck down at 5:05 p.m., PT

SECOND PERIOD

End of 40:00, Canadians still with 2-0 lead. USA better able to penetrate offensive zone, mount pressure. Yanks with 21-18 shot lead after two periods.

USA very effective with man-advantage late in period but still unable to put one by Szabados.

10:01 -- US penalty, Cahow, hooking.


10:50 to go in second, Canada still with 2-0 lead.

Canadians twice called for delay of game, at 2:35 and 2:58. Yanks unable to score powser-play goal. Best chance comes at 4:32 when Duggans pushes top-of-crease backhander on net, but Szabados drops to butterfly for easy stop.

Yanks get right to net, forcing Szabados to make two quick saves in opening 20 seconds. USA looks more willing to battle. Perhaps they've shaken the jitters?
Puck down at 4:21 p.m, ET.

FIRST PERIOD

First 20:00 complete. Host Canadians in lead, 2-0, on strength of 8-7 shot advantage.

Canada moves to 2-0 lead at 16:50. Poulin smacks in second of game with short forehand shovel from slot, beating Vetter glove side, about a foot off the ice. Even strength, 4-on-4.

Canada takes 1-0 led at 13:55. Poulin smacks one-timer slapper from dot in left wing faceoff circle to top right corner, by Vetter's glove hand. Sides skating full strength.


Puck is down at 3:35 pm, PT.

Sluggish start for both sides. Must be tough for both clubs to face good competition, after seeing such little resistance since arriving at Olympus.

Greetings from just off center ice at Canada Hockey Place, where in just a few minutes Team USA and Team Canada will drop the puck to determine which side of the border can claim to have the best women's hockey team in the world.
Back soon with game updates.

Coffee talk

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff February 25, 2010 03:08 PM

I am a coffee guy.

Two mugs at home while perusing the Globe and Times. A cup while going through the Herald, USA Today, NY Post and NY Daily News. At least two more cups if I'm in the office for any length of time.

So I like my coffee, and I thought Seattle was a coffee mecca, but I've never seen anything like Vancouver.

Coffee appears to be mother's milk in this town. You want coffee, you get coffee.

Among your choices ...

Agape Coffee, Bean Around The World Coffee (8 outlets), Biega Coffee, Blentz Coffee, Blenz Coffee (20 outlets) --- yes, they're different --- Cedar Cottage Coffee House, Citroen Coffee House, Cocoa Lattes Coffee, Coffee Cat, Coffee & Teahouse, Coffee Waves, Connoisseurs Coffee, Continental Coffee, DFH Coffee, Daily Grind Coffee Bar, Delany's Coffee House (5 outlets), Diva's Coffee, Esquires Coffee House, Fair Waves Coffee (2 outlets), 49th Parallel Coffee, Gene Coffee Bar, Global Coffee, Green Bean Coffee, Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar (2 outlets), Grounds For Appeal, Harlan's Coffee Lounge, Honey's Buns, Hot Coffee Creation Ltd, Intellegentsia Coffee Canada, JJ Bean's House of Coffee (5 outlets), JJ House of Coffee, Java Cat Coffee Co., Java Jungle Coffee, Kits Coffee Co., Leiria Coffee House, L'Express Coffee.

Murchie's Tea & Coffee (5 outlets), Nebur King Coffee, Nebur-King Coffee --- yes, they're different --- Nectar's Coffee Shop, Ooh Ooh La La Cappuccino Bar, Paradise Coffee House, Petit Ami, Pho Scao Coffee, Raincity Coffee Ltd, Richmond Coffee Co. (7 outlets), River Road Coffee, Salt Spring Coffee (7), Seattle's Best Coffee, Second Cup of Coffee (3 outletrs), Souris Coffee Company, Spirit Bean Coffee, Starbucks (12 outlets), Strevenson Coiffee Co., Sweet Chili Coffee, Tarrazu Coffee Producers, Tim Horton's (25 outlets, although it seems more like 225), Torrefazione Italia Inc., Trees Organic Coffee, Turks Coffee (2 outlets), Two Cows Coffee, Village Coffee Lounge, Vivel Gelato Coffee, Waves Coffee (5 outlets), West of Them Java Coffee House, Yola's Coffee & Honey.

In addition, there are at least 20 "Coffee Specialty Bars" and 24 wholesale coffee outlets.

And you couldn't count the number of cafes and delis who claim their coffee is
the "Best in Town."

Tim Horton's is king up here. It's probably on everyone's short list of things most endearingly Canadian. It can be best equated to Dunkin' Donuts, but it is staunchly Canadian, and nowhere does this show up more clearly than in the pricing.

Check this out. At the Tim Horton's nearest the Main Press Centre, there are four coffee sizes, as follows: Small, $1.16. Medium, $1.28. Large, $1.52 and Extra Large, 1.67.

What?

Three gradations up from small only costs 51 cents more? What kind of marketing is that? Increases of 12 cents, 14 cents and 15 cents? Why would anyone get a small (which is, by the way, pretty small)?. Is that the historic Canadian "polite" thing at work? "Ooh, hope you don't mind if we ask you to pay 12 more cents for a medium?"

No way you see anything like that in America. We make you think. "Do I really want a large? Is it worth the increase to me?" But at Tim Horton's, you go for it. If you decide you can't drink the extra-large instead of the medium, take what you can and pour the rest out. It's only 39 cents more.

Ah, Canada. Vive la difference.

Olympic cauldron views

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 25, 2010 12:58 AM

Visitors in good spirits despite security around display. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)
Read more...

Get Adobe Flash player

Daily snapshot: February 25

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 25, 2010 12:43 AM

Familiar foes: Can we admit it now? A US-Canada showdown in the women's gold medal game was inevitable from the beginning, or at the very least once it was clear this young, rebuilt version of the US team would not take Sweden -- which pulled off a stunning upset over the Americans in 2006 at Turin, Italy -- lightly. But that's not to suggest it's a tired rivalry. The US enters as underdogs searching for its first gold since 1998. Canada enters as the favorite, and its should be bolstered by a rowdy home crowd that thirsts for gold. But only a fool writes off a team that has Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero on its side. Expect another memorable chapter to the rivalry. 6:30 p.m.

Competition and emotion: South Korea's Kim Yu Na, who was spectacular in the short program Tuesday night, comes in to the women's free program as the heavy favorite to win gold. But all eyes -- including more than a few teary ones -- will be on Canada's Joannie Rochette, who mustered the strength to finish third in the short program despite the sudden death of her mother, Therese, of a heart attack Sunday. One programming note: Be sure to check back right here tonight, when the Globe's John Powers provides instant analysis during and after the program. 8 p.m.

And don't forget . . . Jeret Peterson takes to the air at Cypress Mountain in the finals of the men's aerials. He says he will break out "The Hurricane," his daring -- and incredibly dangerous, given its five midair spins and three flips -- signature move. If he lands it, he could leave with some gold. 9 p.m.

Cook finishes 11th in women's aerials

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 24, 2010 10:35 PM

So it's all over on snowy, soupy Cypress Mountain. China's Xu Mengtao wipes out while trying to complete the most difficult jump of the night, and the gold goes to Australia's Lydia Lassila (214.74), with China's Li Nina (207.23) and Guo Xinxin (205.72) claiming the silver and bronze.

Mengtao mighth have found a spot on the podium, but she lost her footing while landing her back/lay/double-full/full jump -- which has a 4.175 degree of difficulty -- and got turned around 180 degrees so she was facing the ramp before toppling.

Belmont's Emily Cook finished 11th with a score of 148.92, right behind teammates Lacy Schnoor (ninth, 172.89) and Ashley Caldwell (10th, 171.10)

Update, 11:24 p.m. Assoli Slivets of Belarus bumps Cooper from third place, scoring a 95.90 on her second jump for a total of 198.69.

. . . and Australia's Lydia Lassila follows Slivets's jump by bumping everyone down a notch, taking over the top spot with a combined score of 214.74. With one competitor remaining -- China's Xu Mengtao -- Lassila, a crowd favorite judging by the cheers when her score is posted, is assured of silver, with Li Nina having a hold on the bronze.

Update, 11:21 p.m. After nine competitors in the second jump, China's Li Nina (207.23) and Guo Xinxin (205.72) are 1-2, with Cooper hanging on to third. Cook is eighth.

Update, 11:14 p.m. So there will offically be no medal for Cook, who has been bumped to fifth overall after six competitors. Midway through the second run, the current leader is Australia's Jacqui Cooper, who has a combined score of 194.29.

Update, 11:06 p.m. Now that's the poise of an Olympic veteran.

Cook delivers on her second jump, a back/double-full/full, earning a score of 83.89, which temporarily puts her in first place.

She is unlikely to remain there -- she has a combined score of 148.92, while 10 competitors are yet to make her second jump -- but it was a nice moment of redemption after her first jump ended in disappointment.

Cook's second jump had a degree of difficulty of 3.525, the same as her first jump. After her smooth landing, she immediately raised both arms in the air and pumped her fists.

Update, 10:58: Emily Cook needs a terrific second jump and a sizeable helping of good fortune if she is going to earn a medal in women's aerials tonight at Cypress Mountain.

After the first run, the 30-year-old two-time Olympian is in 11th place among 12 competitors with a score of 65.03. Australia's Elizabeth Gardner is 12th with a 63.04.

That means Cook will be the second to go in the second round of jumps, since they go in reverse order of finish in the first round.

Update, 10:45: Tough first jump for Belmont's Emily Cook, who fell backward while landing to complete her jump and banged her head on the ground before recovering.

Cook came up holding her mouth, but appears to be OK. Her medal chances probably aren't, however. She scored a 65.03, which puts her seventh among the eight competitors to so far to make their first of two jumps.

Her jump was a Back/full/Double-full, which had a 3.525 degree of difficulty, the same as five of the 12 finalists. No one has a lower degree of difficulty on their first jump, though two will on the second jump.

Update, 10:43: Cook up now. Lacey Schnoor, her US teammate, just scored an 89.88 for fifth place among seven competitors.

* * *

VANCOUVER, British Colombia -- The women's aerials are getting underway right now on right now at Cypress Mountain, despite foggy, sloppy conditions.

Belmont's Emily Cook, who finished fifth in qualifying, will be the eighth of 12 competitors. Currently, China's Mengtao Xu is in first place after five aerialists have gone.

She scored a 108.5 on a back/Lay/Double-full/Full, which had the highest degree of difficulty of any manuever in the competition.

Bronze for bobsledder Pac

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 24, 2010 10:20 PM

Erin Pac of Farmington, Conn. and teammate Elana Meyers claimed the bronze medal tonight in the women's bobsled at Whistler Sliding Park.

Pac, the driver of the sled, and Meyers had a four-heat combined time of 3 minutes 33.40 seconds after their final run of :53.78.

Gold and silver both went to Canadian pairs. Kallie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Canada 1 claimed the gold medal with a four-heat time of 3:32.28, including a clocking of :53.23 in their fourth heat as the final tandem down the course.

Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown of Canada 2 won the silver for the home team with an overall time 3:33.13 after finishing with the fastest fourth-heat time of :53.17.

There were 20 sleds in the race, with their order determined in the final heat by reverse order of their standings. Pac and Meyers were the second-to-last pair to go, meaning they were in position for the silver after three heats.

But after a fast start, they had some turbulence some slight wobbles as they navigated a couple of turns in the middle of the track and fell off Canada 2's pace.

US fends off Switzerland, 2-0

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 24, 2010 02:23 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Switzerland goalie Jonas Hiller stopped the United States time and time again. But in the end, Zach Parise saved the day.

Parise scored a pair of third-period goals, including a clinching empty-netter with 11.2 seconds remaining, and the top-seeded US men's hockey team overcame Hiller and the resilient Swiss with a 2-0 victory this afternoon at Canada Hockey Place.

The US improves to 4-0 in the tournament and will play the winner of tonight's Czech Republic/Finland game in a semifinal Friday, with a berth in Sunday's gold medal game at stake.

“Overall you have to be happy [with the outcome]," said US forward Patrick Kane. "It’s fun with these kind of games, [but] you put it right behind you and look forward to the next one.”

Hiller, who plays for the NHL's Anaheim Ducks when he's not stonewalling teams with superior talent to the Swiss here at the Olympics (Canada needed a shootout goal from Sidney Crosby to overcome him in a preliminary), made 42 saves, many spectacular and many from close range.

“He’s making every save there was, everyone’s like, ‘jeez, almost, almost, almost," said US defenseman Tim Gleason.

Hiller kept the Swiss in it despite a decided shot advantage for the US -- his counterpart, Ryan Miller, the star of the US's 5-3 victory over Canada Sunday, required just 19 saves in this one for the shutout.

“I knew it was going to come down to a tight game," Miller said.

Hiller was the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce here or there; a Phil Kessel missile ricocheted off a post in the second period, and a goal that Hiller essentially bobbled into the net was waved off after replay determined it had come after time in the second period had expired.

But he was nothing short of sensational through the first two periods, and as his save total mounted, tension built: Was the US on the verge of proving its stirring victory over Canada was little more than an aberration?

Thanks to Parise, the answer was no. Two minutes and 8 seconds into the final period, the New Jersey Devils forward got the US on the board. Stationed at the right post, he chopped at and redirected a Brian Rafalski shot from the mid slot.

The puck bounced over Hiller's glove and trickled inside the left post as the goalie lunged in vain, breaking the scoreless tie.

Parise's tally, his first of the Olympics, came on the power play, which was set up when Kessel drew a tripping call on Philippe Furrer as he attempted to tuck the puck inside the right post.

Rafalski said there was never any hint of panic in the US locker room between the second and third periods.

"It was good," he said. "We said, 'We're getting chances, just keep with it and don't try to do more than you're capable of' . . . it was just a matter of time. Guys weren't panicking; we said 'just keep with it.' "

No one kept with it more than Parise. He was the most energetic of the US forwards, save for perhaps Kessel, so it was appropriate that he got the empty-netter to secure the victory with 11.2 seconds left.

Now the US watches and waits tonight to discover its opponent.

“We’re getting better and better every day," US forward Chris Drury said. "Now we'll just go from there."

* * *

19:49: US 2, SWITZERLAND 0 And Parise gets the empty-netter, poking the puck loose along the left boards in the neutral zone, chasing it down, and flipping it in from the faceoff circle on a 2 on 1. And that's gonna do it. Gritty effort by the Swiss, particularly Hiller. But the US also deserves credit for not panicking or deviating from the game plan after being shut out the first two periods.

Three stars from our perspective:

1. Parise. Two goals, and relentless energy in the decisive third.
2. Hiller. If not for one tough bounce, Switzerland could have found itself in its fourth OT of the tournament.
3. Rafalski. Assisted on Parise's first goal, and seemed to be in the middle of the majority of the US's best chances.

We'll be back to top this up with a wrapup shortly. And don't forget, Mr. Dupont will take you through Russia-Canada starting at 7:30.

18:45: Hiller pulled. Switzerland with the accelarating rush, but no results. How about another Kesler open-netter?

16:58: The US now has two forwards on the forecheck, and the Swiss has opened up its attack a little bit. Erik Johnson just thwarted a quality bid with a sliding block of a shot. He's been big.

15:11: Parise has three shots on goal according to the stat sheet. Seems like about a dozen.

14:14: The US is making Hiller work, Rafalski and Parise leading the way. Erik Johnson has also initiated some decent chances. Right now, Hiller has 41 saves, and Miller is probably now in double figures.

12:23: Puck is really bouncing around right now. Luca Sbisa with a hard slapper from the left point that Miller smoothers. Pretty good bid. This is one Switzerland's better sustained offensive sequences of the game.

9:50: Parise has been the US's most active forward this period. A minute ago, he dinged one off the post after stickhandling through the slot, and seconds ago he just missed connecting on a breakaway via Langenbrunner's pass.

8:00: Penalty killed, but Switzerland gets a few decent opportunities, including one by Romano Lemm that appeared to hit Miller in the mask. Put another stitch on, Cheevers.

4:46: A minute or so after a Swiss shot from the right faceoff circle eludes Miller but hits the far post, then the US has a goal waved off after Kesler is called for interference in front on Mathias Seger, who lost his helmet. As an official communicates with the replay official upstairs regarding the Swiss shot earlier, Kesler sits next to him in the box, still barking about the call. The official's scowl tells the story.

Just showed Tim Thomas on the monitor sitting on the US bench. I have no idea why.

Third period, 18:51, UNITED STATES 1, SWITZERLAND 0: Parise breaks the ice, with the help of a nice bounce. Stationed at the far post, he chopped at and redirected a Rafalski shot from the mid slot. The puck bounced over Hiller's glove and trickled inside the far post as the goalie lunged in vain. The US was on the power play, set up when Kessel -- who has been excellent -- drew a tripping call on Philippe Furrer as he attempted to tuck the puck inside the right post.

Second intermission: Stats: US is outshooting the Swiss, 32-8. Hiller has been just short of phenomenal. Miller has rarely been tested. The US is dominating faceoffs, 26-14. The US is 0 for 3 on the power play, the Swiss 0 for 2. And still, no score.

Quickie analysis: It's hard not to notice that the US is playing like Canada did the other night against them. Dominating play, creating legitimate opportunities, and doing everything but putting the puck behind a red-hot goalie. We'll see if the frustration starts to show, but it should be noted that there are ton of Canadian fans in the arena who are cheering loudly for the Swiss.

End of second period, US 0, Switzerland 0: The US gets one . . . and then it doesn't. It appeared the red, white, and blue had taken a 1-0 lead with 0.1 (or less) remaining on the clock when Hiller, using his stick to haul in the puck after a scrum in front, accidentally flipped it airborne, where it bounced off his left shoulder, then off the cross bar, and, as he bent backward, apparently across the goal line. You could call it a fluke goal, but ultimately it was a goal at all. After quick look at replay, officials determined that time had expired before it slipped over the line. So no break for the US, no flukish misfortune for the Swiss, and still, no score.

16:37: Nothing doing again on the power play, but the US is creating some quality chances now. Langenbrunner had a point-blank bid at the left post but the feed from Kane seemed to hop over his stick -- if he controls it, it's a goal -- and Hiller just made an oooooohhh inspiring glove save on a Suter missile from just outside the left point.

13:45:Domenichelli with a decent 2-on-1 bid out of the box -- then he's immediately sent back for hooking. If the US can't get one here, there has to be some level of frustration setting in soon, right?

11:19: Langenbrunner gets perhaps the US's best opportunity yet, with a diving wrister just inside the right point, but Hiller bats it away. Looked like it was net-bound when Langenbrunner let it go.

US on the power play again. Hnat Domenichelli sent to the box. Suter, Rafalski, Kane, Kesler, and Brown out there right now.

9:35: Switzerland's Julien Sprunger with a backhanded bid on the far post that ties up Miller briefly. So far, Miller has been credited with eight saves.

6:05: Rafaelle Sannitz off for roughing, putting the US on the power play. Nothing doing through the first minute.

. . . and in the final minute, the US can barely get set up, with a sequence of turnovers in the neutral zone. (You can insert your own "Swiss" and "neutral" joke here. Hey, you're lucky we've resisted so far.)

2:41: Switzerland on the power play after Ryan Malone is sent to the box for roughing. US has controlled play early here, with Kessel getting the best chance, a quick wrister from the left point that Hiller juggled. Give credit to the Swiss defense; the US is struggling to pounce on rebounds.

And the penalty is killed. Couple of saves for Miller, but no opportunites that make you hold your breath. Tim Gleason blocked one shot with what appeared to be his big toe.

Second period about to get underway: One thing to keep in mind: Switzerland needed OT to beat Belarus yesterday. You have to wonder how long their legs can hold up against this young (youngest in the tournament) and speedy US team.

Same line that started the game starts the second for the US: Langenbrunner-Stastny-Parise.

Still in intermission: By the way, replay shows that it was Kessel who hit the post with a little under four minutes left. He's been very active, on the offensive end at least.

End of first period, US 0, Switzerland 0: One period down, and still no score. Hiller has 18 saves, and perhaps his best one came with approximately a minute left when he used his blocker to deflect a Parise wrister that appeared headed over his left shoulder and into the net. The US also hit a post with roughly 3 minutes left.

According to the stat sheet, the US is leading in shots, 18-4, but the discrepancy doesn't seem that wide. The guess here is that Miller has six or seven saves, with a lot of Swiss attempts going wide of the net.

The US has for the most part controlled play, and their forwards, particularly the Kane-Brown-Kesler crew, seemed to be in sych a little more as the period progressed. Hiller has been outstanding, and as the Canadians can attest, it's not the first time in this tournament. But if the US stays patient and keeps generating quality chances, they should pull this one out.

You think Ron Wilson is telling them -- in a not-so-warm way -- to put the Canada game behind them, because they're in a fight for this one?

Couple more stats: The US won 14 faceoffs to Switzerland's 7, and there was just one penalty, the hooking infraction on Callahan.

16:53: Ryan Kesler gets off a wrister from the slot that appears to hit Hiller in the chest. Twenty seconds later, Kessel, with a bit of fancy stickhandling, nearly gets the US on the boards, but his shot from the right point goes wide. The US is controlling play for the most part, but there's not a lot of cohesiveness when they break out.

15:18: Love watching Bobby Ryan. He fights for every puck as if it's made of gold, and he's completely overpowered a couple of Swiss defensemen in the corners.

(And as I write that, he gets outmuscled by a smaller player in the corner. So much for that.)

13:42: Not to say they're playing poorly, because their speed is creating chances, but Kane and Brown have been getting a little too cute with the puck, leading to a couple of turnovers in the neutral zone.

10:55: Phil Kessel with some fancy stickhandling and then a shot wide. We're obligated to report any sighting of No. 81.

Nice hit by Brown just before that play, nearly topping Switzerland's Yannick Weber into the bench.

The US is buzzing here, particularly Bobby Ryan. Could get one soon if this keeps up. Switzerland is generating some decent chances as well, though for the most part they seem content to fire it in on Miller and hope for a tip or a rebound. Not a lot of close-range action so far.

8:26: US kills the penalty without much drama. Should note a couple of line alterations for the US. Dustin Brown is now matched with Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler, while Bobby Ryan is in a group that includes Backes, Callahan, and Chris Drury.

6:25: Ryan Callahan sent to the box for hooking. Switzerland is 50 percent on the power play in the tournament, but they've had a few good shots on Miller so far. (The shots: US 6, Swiss 3). We'll see if they can generate anything here. Roman Wick, who has two goals in the tourney -- including the Swiss's lone score against the US in prelims -- has been particularly active.

3:17: The US is buzzing Hiller early and often, but he's up to the challenge so far. Rafalski, who had two goals against Canada (Martin Brodeur might have been credited with assists on both) gets off a good look from the slot, but Hiller is there for the save.

First period . . . : . . . and we're underway at Canada Hockey Place. The US starts with a lineup of Paul Stastny, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Zach Parise, with Brian Rafalski and Ryan Suter on defense. Ryan Miller is, of course, in net.


* * *

Greetings from lovely Vancouver, which officially becomes Hockeyville again in a few minutes when the puck is dropped for the 3 p.m. quarterfinal men's matchup between the United States and Switzerland.

We'll be here live blogging that game, with the esteemed Kevin Paul Dupont taking over for the pontential epic between Canada and Russia at 7:40 p.m.

So be sure to check in here for your updates if you're at work (don't worry, your boss isn't looking) or watching NBC (zing!).

The US is seeded first after its thrilling 5-3 victory over Canada Sunday that secured a berth in the quarterfinals, while Switzerland is eighth. But don't be fooled by the seedings; judging by the teams' previous meeting here in the preliminaries, the US will have to be sharp to earn the win.

In their Olympics opener February 16, the US defeated Switzerland, 3-1, but it was not particularly easy. Bobby Ryan and David Backes scored sensational individual goals -- Backes's end-to-end rush drew comparisons here to a vintage Bobby Orr maneuver, which of course we New Englanders know is the height of hyperbole -- but Switzerland, with three NHL players on its roster, including Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, played a tough and disciplined game.

Switzerland, which defeated Belarus in a play-in to reach the quarterfinals, foreshadowed Canada's eventual troubles against the US. Canada needed a shootout goal by Sidney Crosby to beat the Swiss, 3-2, on February 18.

Krejci delivers for Czechs

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 24, 2010 12:15 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Even during this extended break, Bruins fans require no reminder that David Krejci and his teammates have had trouble putting the puck in the net this season.

But moments ago, the 23-year-old forward, who has just 11 goals for the Bruins this season, scored a huge one for his homeland.

Krejci scored at 5:10 of overtime, giving the Czech Republic a 3-2 victory over the resilient Latvia tonight in a quarterfinal play-in at Canada Hockey Place.

The Czech Republic took a 2-0 on goals from Tomas Rolinek and Tomas Fleischmann in the first period. But Latvia's Mikelis Redlihs and Martins Cipulis scored in the third to tie the game.

Latvia's Edgars Masalskis was stellar even though Krejci's wrister from the center slot eluded him, stopping 47 shots. Tomas Vokoun had 24 saves for the Czechs.

The goal advances the Czechs to the quarterfinals, where they will face Finland Wednesday night.

Kim wins short program

Posted by John Powers, Globe Staff February 24, 2010 12:01 AM

South Korean world champion Kim Yu Na took the first step toward her country's first Olympic figure skating title tonight when she easily won the short program ahead of Japan's Mao Asada. "The burden of competing here was not as much as I thought it would be," said the 19-year-old Kim, after she had outpointed the previous global titlist by 78.50 to 73.78. The 78.50 is a world best.

In third was Canada's Joannie Rochette, who was competing only three days after the death of her mother Therese from a heart attack after she'd arrived here to watch her daughter bid for the first gold medal by a Canadian woman since Barbara Ann Scott in 1948.

Rochette, who slapped hands with coach Manon Perron at the dasher just before she went out to skate, turned in her best performance of the season, a remarkably composed and courageous effort that began with a solid triple lutz-double toe combination and ended without fault. Then when the music stopped and the crowd rose and roared in admiration, Rochette burst into tears. Yet even though she skated cleanly, the difficulty of her program couldn't match that of Kim and Asada. Kim landed a triple lutz-triple toe and Asada a triple axel-double toe, the first triple axel combo by a woman in Olympic history.

In fifth place behind former Japanese world champion Miki Ando was US champion Rachael Flatt, who skated a clean program highlighted by a triple flip-triple toe combo. In sixth was teammate Mirai Nagasu, who fought off an untimely nosebleed to turn in a solid skate.

Had Nagasu tried the triple lutz-triple toe combination that she'd planned she might have placed higher but a wobbly warmup landing convinced her not to take the risk, so she opted for a triple-double. "From today's performance I don't think I can make the podium," Nagasu reckoned, "so I'm a little bit disappointed.".

Ela's wish

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 23, 2010 11:15 PM

Make-A-Wish fulfills Concord teen's wish to go to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ela Castillo, 17, goes to Vancouver with her family. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

Get Adobe Flash player

Canada beats Germany, 8-2; Russia next

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 23, 2010 07:07 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The collective whoosh you just heard?

Don't worry.

It was merely all of Canada collectively exhaling.

Jarome Iginla scored twice, Joe Thornton got the rout rolling with the game's first goal, and Canada blasted Germany, 8-2, tonight at Canada Hockey Place.

With the victory, Canada advances to the men's ice hockey quarterfinals. Canada will face Russia -- and nemesis/superstar Alex Ovechkin -- tomorrow.

Roberto Luongo, starting in net after Martin Brodeur's shaky performance in Sunday's 5-3 loss to Team USA, stopped 20 of 22 shots.

Canada dominated play thoroughly, but didn't get on the scoreboard until former Bruin Thornton's point-blank tally at 10:13 of the first period.

The score remained 1-0 entering the second, but goals by Shea Weber and a pair by Iginla five minutes apart put the game out of reach.

Sidney Crosby, Mike Richards, Scott Niedermayer, and Rick Nash scored in the third for Team Canada, much to the glee of a raucous crowd that seemed to be over Sunday's stunning loss to Ryan Miller and the US before the first faceoff.

Marcel Goc and Manuel Klinge scored for Germany, Klinge's goal coming in the final minute.

* * *

19:00, CANADA 8, GERMANY 2: Manuel Klinge punches one in past Luongo. Hey, two is better than one.

16:28, CANADA 8, GERMANY 1: Rick Nash with a lasered wrister after long cross-ice feed from Chris Pronger. After the puck eludes -- or perhaps goes through -- Greiss, Nash offers a gesture that almost looks like a yawn. Too easy, indeed.

13:25: Greiss has 24 saves on 31 shots, while Luongo is 19 for 20. The difference is that Luongo has faced maybe three legitimate chances tonight, while Greiss has been peppered.

Crosby leads Canada with five shots, while Heatley has four and three others have three. Seidenberg and Marcel Muller lead Germany with three each.

11:22, CANADA 7, GERMANY 1: Three goals in the past five minutes and four this period. That's the definition of pouring it on. The latest comes on a breakaway by Scott Niedermayer, who has six goals in 62 games for the Ducks this season. He beat Greiss five-hole.

10:45: At this point, all of our suspense is based in wondering if Bergeron or Sturm can get on the scoreboard. There's a much better chance of the former. Canada is still ruling play.

6:41, CANADA 6, GERMANY 1: Toews fends off a pair of Germans for the puck behind the net, shovels it left to Brenden Morrow, who throws a pretty backhand to Richards in the slot. Greiss never has a chance at his one-timer. Great play by all three players. Morrow and Richards didn't get much ice time early in the game, so they're taking advantage of their chances.

Third period, 1:10, CANADA 5, GERMANY 1: Beautiful goal by Crosby, who slips in toward the far post and effortlessly redirects a pass from Staal in the corner.

O
V
E
R

19:20: A tight and raucous "Go, Canada, Go!" chant fills the rink as the second period winds to a close. We'll keep you posted if we here any "Go, Germany, Go!" chants tonight, but don't hold your breath.

16:34, CANADA 4, GERMANY 1: Now there's one for Germany. With Sturm buzzing in front, Marcel Goc collected the loose puck behind the net after a slapper from the point, zipped left, and tucked it in past a prone Luongo. Get Brodeur in there, now.

13:17 Decent wrister from the point by Germany's John Tripp. Closest thing to a scoring chance they've had . . . but it really wasn't that close.

11:00: Bergeron getting some ice time now, with Nash and Corey Perry, it appears . . . and Nash earns a penalty shot after he's taken down while breaking in on Gress. Alexander Sulzer with the takedown.

Who takes the penalty shot? Who else? Mr. Crosby.

But No. 87 comes away emptyhanded, his backhand deflecting off Greiss's glove.

8:50, CANADA 4, GERMANY 0:The floodgates are officially open. Iginla again, this time with an absolute rocket from the right point after a nifty cross-ice feed from Staal. The goal came 35 seconds after Germany's first power play (Heatley, slashing) fizzled with just one shot on goal.

3:41, CANADA 3, GERMANY 0: Considering Canada suddenly has one fewer goal than Germany has shots, would it be too soon to declare this one over? Probably not. Jarome Iginla gives the home team something else to cheer, punching one from the far post past Greiss on the power play after Rick Nash and Doughty created havoc in front. It came 15 seconds after Seiderberg was sent off for slashing.

2:32, CANADA 2, GERMANY 0: Pardon us for hopping in the time machine and leaping back 38 seconds here, but the officials just agreed -- correctly, with the assistance of replay -- that Webber's shot found the back of the net before deflecting out after hitting the water bottle. (It may have also gone through the netting. Very tough to tell, even on replay.) The assist went to Mike Richards.

Second period, 3:10: Slight delay here as officials sort out the situation after Shea Webber's slappe from just inside the blueline appeared to go wide -- upon first glance anyway -- as Jonathan Toews collided with Greiss.

Between periods . . . . . . a couple of quick stats. Patrice Bergeron has played just 13 seconds for Canada. You'd think Mike Babcock might value his faceoff skills and unselfishness a little more, but this is a pretty tough lineup to crack . . . Just one penalty in the first period, the high stick called on Germany's Schmidt . . . Greiss has 13 saves on 14 shots, while Luongo is 4 for 4 . . . Scott Niedermayer (6:40) and Duncan Keith (6:29) were Canada's leaders in ice time. Keith in particular has been active . . . Just 4:02 for Toews . . . Christian Ehrhoff leads Germany (6:47), 5:24 for Sturm . . . OK, second period about to get underway . . .

End of first period: CANADA 1, GERMANY 0: Or should we say, JOE THORNTON 1, GERMANY 0. Canada is outshooting Germany, 14-4, and none of the underdog's shots -- by Dennis Seidenberg, Jakob Ficenek, Travis James Mulock, and Korbinian Holzer, if you were wondering -- can be considered legitimate scoring opportunities. The hunch is that Canada will string together a couple of quick scores and end all suspense before the second period is complete.

By the way, CTV, which has done a terrific job of broadcasting these games -- they show stuff live and everything -- is on in the press room, and Bob Ryan is right. The host, Brian Williams, could be a stand-in for BU coach Jack Parker.

16:02: Point-blank and wide-open opportunity for Ryan Getzlaf, but he couldn't keep the puck on his stick as Greiss poked it away. The hockey equivalent of a blown layup. Canada has had probably a half-dozen open looks so far. It's not so much that Greiss is playing well as it is that they're just not capitalizing. Have to figure that will change . . . right?

15:53: Germany has just two shots on Luongo, the first coming at 11:43. (Make it three. Luongo has officially broken a sweat.)

10:13, CANADA, 1-0: Score one for old friend Joe Thornton. Hanging out on the doorstep on Greiss's left, he took a feed from Heatley behind the net and flicked it in before Greiss could see it. The play materialized when Drew Doughty controlled the puck, fed Duncan Keith for a slapper from the right point, leading to Heatley gathering the puck and putting Canada on the board. Pretty play all around.

8:59: Decent look for Nash in the slot after some sloppy puckhandling by Greiss and the German defense, but Greiss deflected the shot behind the net. Best save yet. Scoring chances so far: Canada 6, Germany 0.

7:29: Or maybe not. Germany kills the penalty despite Canada controlling the puck for most of the two minutes. Looks like they're being a little too picky, particularly Heatley. The best chance came when he fed Dan Boyle from the left of Greiss to the right faceoff circle, but Greiss seemed to get a good look at the puck.

No nerves here yet. Crowd is still rocking. They really love "I Got A Feeling'" by the Black Eyes Peas here. Not a good, good night yet, however.

5:29: Canada on the power play after Christopher Schmidt is called for a very legit high sticking penalty on Staal. Could be 1-0 by the time you read this.

4:07: Eric Staal with a big hit in the corner on Germany's Jakub Ficenec.

By the way, the referees are Jyri Ronn (Finland) and Christopher Rooney (US), while the linesmen are Stefan Fonselius (Finland) and Brian Murphy (US).

First period, 2:52: Canada is controlling play early. Dany Heatley had a good bid on wrister from the right faceoff circle, and Jonathan Toews, who played a terrific game against the US, seems to be everywhere early.

* * *

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- We're checking in live from Canada Hockey Place, where the host team tries to avoid -- only a slight exaggeration here -- an epic national disaster in tonight's quarterfinal play-in against Germany.

Roberto Luongo -- a local favorite already as the Canucks' stalwart goalie -- gets the start in net, replacing Martin Brodeur, who was shaky in Canada's 5-3 loss to the United States Sunday. Brodeur is now the backup.

Germany, captained by the Bruins' Marco Sturm, will start Thomas Greiss in net.

The mood is optimistic, with the red and white receiving a hearty roar from the crowd moments ago as it took the ice. Canada dominated play against the US for the most part, but couldn't overcome a spectacular performance by goalie Ryan Miller. The belief here is that the 24-year-old Greiss, who has played 12 games for the San Jose Sharks this season, won't be up to Miller's standard.

They're dropping the puck now . . . we'll be back for more updates right here . . .

Miller out of giant slalom

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 23, 2010 01:49 PM

There will be no medal in the giant slalom for Bode Miller.

The Franconia, N.H., native, who has had a remarkable fortnight on Whistler Mountain, winning three medals and tempering the memory of his 0-for-Turin four years ago, skied off course this morning and did not finish.

Carlo Janka of Switzerland won the gold.

Miller, who started 31st in a field of 103 racers, appeared to struggle to find his groove through the early portions of the first race and nearly crashed near the top. But it was in the lower half of the course where he faltered.

Coming wide out of a gate, he almost became parallel with the ground. At the following righthand gate, still off balance and struggling to correct his line, he slipped off the course after being unable to make the turn and was disqualified.

Miller's daring, carefree, and occasionally reckless style has resulted in considerably more success in the downhill than in the slalom in recent years; in fact, he has often struggled to complete the slalom, which made his victory in the super combined Sunday in which he came from behind with a magnificent slalom run after finishing seventh in the downhill portion, all the more remarkable.

His lone result in the race on the World Cup tour this season came last month, when he finished in 14th-place at Adelboden, Switzerland.

Miller, who won gold in the super combined, silver in the super G, and bronze in the downhill, will have one more chance here to win a record fourth Alpine medal in one Olympic games. The slalom is Saturday.

For the first time in seven Alpine events here, the US did not medal; it has won eight Alpine medals so far. Ted Ligety, who is ranked first in the World Cup giant slalom standings, finished ninth.

The giant slalom is the combined scores of two slalom runs on different courses.

Catching up with Kristi Yamaguchi

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff February 23, 2010 09:48 AM
Get Adobe Flash player

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The custom-made costumes and the kiss-and-cry area are now just wonderful memories that fade more and more each Olympiad. It’s been 18 years since Kristi Yamaguchi twirled and jumped her way to gold in Albertville, France, and in that time she became a professional skater, a Hall of Famer, a commentator, a wife, and even a champion again.

‘‘Dancing with the Stars,’’ of course.

All that’s nice, but if you really want to see her eyes light up, ask her about something else she became: A mom.

‘‘The biggest reward and accomplishment of my life,’’ she beams, referring to daughters Keara, 6, and Emma, 4, she had with husband Bret Hedican, a former Olympian and NHL player.

And sounding just like a mother, she quickly adds, ‘‘I still can’t believe when I look at them how fast they grow.’’

Yamaguchi, now an even-harder-to-believe 38, is here with Proctor & Gamble as part of the company’s ‘Thanks, Mom’’ program which helps defray the costs of travel and accommodations for the mothers of some 200 Team USA members.

‘‘It’s really a neat program and I think invaluable to the US athletes,’’ she says, relaxing in the beauty salon and spa at the five-level P&G Family Home, which includes a spacious lounge. ‘‘I think for the athletes it’s so important to have their unconditional support system here.

‘‘My mom [Carole] is here and I’m not even competing!’’

Having that support system will be certainly be important for the two young US hopefuls in the women’s competition that begins tonight (neither of whom were born when Yamaguchi captured America’s heart in ’92), 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu and 17-year-old Rachel Flatt. Both are considered long shots.

‘‘It should be fun for them,’’ said Yamaguchi. ‘‘I think they just need to sit back and enjoy it and do what they can. I personally think they have an outside chance to make the podium. I know there aren’t any expectations, they don’t have the pressure on them to do that because they don’t have the experience.

‘‘If there are mistakes at the top, we all know Olympic competition is like no other, the pressure sometimes gets to the competitors. If there are mistakes, the door’s open. When you don’t have the expectations, you’re out there to have fun, and you have a little more fire in you.’’

Thinking back to her experience, ‘‘In some ways, I deflected a lot of pressure by giving myself the option to compete after that and continue on to ’94,’’ said Yamaguchi, who opted to pursue a pro career.

With evolution comes more revolutions for the kids today, who perform triple lutzes as a matter of routine. Still. some of the figure skating cognoscenti believe the program Yamaguchi skated in the ’92 Games would hold up well.

‘‘Wow, who are they?’’ she said with a laugh. ‘‘Well, that’s really nice. I, at the time, was hoping to be one, along with Midori Ito, who was pushing the envelope in women’s figure skating. And even though I was labeled more the artistic skater, I think I took a lot of pride in the technical side as well, doing the triple-triple at the Olympics and hoping to see women doing six, seven, triples consistently.

‘‘But it’s nice to know people feel that way.’’

Daily snapshot: February 23

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 23, 2010 05:39 AM

They might be giants: Bode Miller goes for his fourth medal of the Vancouver Games in the giant slalom, but the best bet to win an astounding ninth Alpine medal for the US team is Ted Ligety. Ligety, who won gold in the men's super-combined at Turin, Italy in 2006 and had the best slalom time in the event here, is tops in the World Cup standings in the giant slalom, a race in which each skier makes two slalom runs, each on a different course, with the winner determined by combined times. (You know what? We've learned our lesson. We're betting on Bode, too.)

Yo, Canada: Canada's 5-3 loss to the United States was disappointing and damaging, but it wasn't devastating. A loss to Germany today for the home team in the qualifying playoffs? Now that would be devastating. 7:40 p.m.

And don't forget . . . . . . a number of medal events today, including men's speedskating 10,000 meters (2 p.m.); women's biathlon 4x6K relay (2:30 p.m.); women's freestyle ski cross (4 p.m.); and men's Nordic combined 4x5K (4 p.m.).

Canadians, US 1-2 in dance

Posted by John Powers, Globe Staff February 23, 2010 12:06 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It took them half a century's worth of slips and shortfalls and one sordid scandal, but the Canadians finally won the Olympic gold medal in figure skating that had eluded them since 1960.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won last night's free dance inside the Pacific Coliseum to outpoint US couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 221.57 to 215.74. Taking the bronze were Russian world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who edged 2006 silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the US, 207.64 to 203.07.

“To be standing on the podium with Tessa and Scott is amazing,” said Davis. “There is so much to be proud of right now.”

It also was the first time the Canadians had won the ice dance and the first time that they had made the podium since Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall earned bronze in Calgary in 1988. Although Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were awarded a share of the 2002 pairs gold with Russia's Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze in the wake of the Salt Lake judging controversy, it was the first time Canada actually had won a title on the ice since Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul won the pairs in 1960.

Davis and White, who'd finished just four-100ths of a point behind Virtue and Moir in fourth place at last year's world championships in Los Angeles, had climbed from third place after the compulsory dance to second after the original dance, 2.60 points behind the Canadians. The Americans had hoped to put two couples on the podium for the first time, but Belbin and Agosto were unable to make up ground on the Russians.

“This is very emotional,” said White. “It’s for our family, for our friends, for our coaches. All that hard work has paid off.”

Peterson advances to aerial finals

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 22, 2010 10:53 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jeret Peterson of Amesbury was one of two Americans to advance to the finals in the men’s freestyle aerials during qualifying on Cypress Mountain tonight.

Peterson qualified in fifth with a 237.34, less than a point away from third place.

"I'm ecstatic," Peterson said. "I wanted to be somewhere in the top six or seven."

Ryan St. Onge of Colorado finished second in qualifying with a score of 240.67, trailing only the 242.52 posted by Zongyang Jia of China.

The finals for the men’s aerials will begin at 9 p.m. Thursday. Peterson said he will probably go to his trademark move, The Hurricane, in the final.

"I'm planning on it," he said. "Depending on the weather and the conditions, but if it's like this [sunny], for sure."

The eight best moments so far

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 22, 2010 10:01 PM
Tedy Bruschi
(AP Photo)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Two things I learned during my 1.6 kilometer walk from the hotel to the main media center this morning:

1. Tim Horton's does not take Visa. Dunkin's, you're my home.

2. Roberto Luongo jerseys are suddenly a very popular staple of the Canadian national wardrobe.

The reaction to Canada's 5-3 loss to the United States last night has actually been pretty reasonable. Oh, as my colleague Eric Wilbur documented earlier today, the newspapers spent quite a few column inches this morning documenting the many different ways the sky is falling -- Sidney Crosby (who was dominant in defeat) is too young to lead, Mike Babcock couldn't buy a clue if they were available at the concession stand, Martin Brodeur has turned into Denis Lemieux, and so on.

The fans -- which includes pretty much everyone here save for the foreign media -- seem relatively assured that the stacked Canada squad can still make a run to the podium. One fan I spoke to told me that the two players they feared most coming into the Olympics were Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Miller, so defeat wasn't something they considered an impossibility. There's concern, sure, because the road just got much tougher; they'll deal with Germany tomorrow. But there is still more revelry in the streets than there is panic.

There was also the recognition by hockey aficionados that Miller's performance last night was something truly special (though I must say those hyperbole specialists who raced to compare it to the "Miracle On Ice" lack perspective, context and common sense).

Miller wasn't so much the proverbial hot goalie; it was more than that. He rose to the occasion when the spotlight could have been blinding, and it was awesome to witness. Which, come to think of it, happens to have been recurring theme regarding a number of US athletes so far.

So as we turn the corner and head toward the homestretch of these tragedy-tainted but tremendously tremendous games, here is one writer's look -- with an admitted US tilt -- at the eight best moments so far.

1. Ryan Miller makes 42 saves as the US hockey team stuns Canada. OK, the parameters here are supposed to be specific moments, and we're already breaking them. So much for discipline. But you tell me this:

How is it possible to pinpoint just one of the Buffalo Sabres star goalie's saves last night?

We could name five or so ridiculous stops just from the game's final five minutes, when Team Canada -- which, let's admit it, looked like a vastly superior team everywhere but in net and on the scoreboard -- controlled the puck like the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens playing against Pee-Wees.

I suppose if we had to pinpoint one specific save . . . well, forget it, we just can't. There was a shot from the slot by Jarome Iginla in the second period, three or four apiece from point-blank range by Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash at various points, and so many more.

The reality is that Miller was under siege all night, and he never wavered, always remaining steady and poised while mixing in the spectacular when the situation demanded it. It was the breadth rather than the specifics that made his performance the defining one of the games so far.

Now we'll wait and see if Miller's star turn -- predicted, by the way, by a certain former goalie who knows a thing or two about Olympic success -- can continue all the way to the podium. I can tell you it wouldn't shock anyone here.

Tedy Bruschi
(AP Photo)
2. Bode Miller charges to the the gold medal in the super combined. It's tempting to use words such as redemption and vindication to describe the Franconia, N.H. native's spectacular performance in these Olympics -- in fact, judging by the 63,000 results on Google for "Bode Miller" "redemption," it's been irresistible.

But you get the sense that Miller, whose personality profile seems to fall somewhere between free spirit and anti-hero, has never for a split-second believed he requires -- yes, redemption -- despite the scorn aimed his way after a dismal performance in Turin, when his best finish in five events was fifth place. It's always seemed to me that challenging the mountain on his own terms always meant more to him than winning on somebody else's.

Maybe it's maturity (he's 32), maybe it's fatherhood (he has a 22-month-old daughter), but here he seems to have found a happy medium between what he wants and what others want from him.

His momentum began with the bronze in the downhill, accelerated with his silver in the super-G, and zipped and weaved through the gates with his improbable gold in the super-G, during which a hellacious run in the slalom -- hardly his specialty the last several years -- helped him overcome a seventh-place finish in the downhill. And with two more events to ski here, he hasn't even crossed the finish line yet.

The Bode Miller we saw Sunday -- smiling and waving atop a podium -- is the one we wanted to see four years ago. Being here and savoring the experience seems to outwardly matter to him now, and for fans, that puts just a little more luster on the gold.

3. Apolo Anton Ohno sets a new medals standard for US winter athletes. If you've followed short-track speedskating even casually, you've heard this saying regarding the sport's anything-can-happen ethos countless times:

Well, that's short-track!

So it's remarkable -- and perhaps a little bit fortunate, too -- that the 27-year-old Ohno has won seven medals, a career record for US Winter Olympic competitors, in such a freewheeling, unpredictable sport.

While his feat is slightly exaggerated -- he owns three fewer golds than long-track legend Bonnie Blair, whose record he broke with his bronze in the 1,500 meters -- that is not to diminish his accomplishment or talent.

Ohno has the vision of a great running back, and watching him pick his hole, then shoot through it with a half-lap remaining in the 1,500-meter final to secure the bronze, was to watch an elite athlete at the very top of his game. Think vintage Barry Sanders on skates.

4. Lindsey Vonn justifies the hype with gold in the women's downhill: Vonn -- personable, attractive, and downright dominating on the Alpine slopes -- was an easy choice for the pre-Olympic face of the US team; she was practically a household name upon arrival in Vancouver even among those who had never seen her on a pair of skis. It might have been fair to say she was overexposed, especially following her appearance in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

But in the early days of the games, Vonn was engulfed not so much by media as she was by uncertainty. A painful shin injury lingered and limited her practice time, and the unsuitable weather conditions at Whistler wreaked havoc with the schedule.

In the end, the latter turned out as a blessing, as her injury got a few more days to heal. When it finally came time to ski, she lived up to her advance billing and then some, zipping down the course more than a half-second faster than silver medalist and teammate Julia Mancuso.

We'd seen a lot of Lindsey Vonn before the games. It was cool to finally see what she could accomplish during them.

5. Shaun White reaches rarefied air in the men's halfpipe. I'll admit it. I arrived here lacking a full grasp on the appeal of White; he struck me as a red-headed Spicoli who happened to be charismatic and talented enough to somehow command $9 million a year from Generation X-Games.

I will leave here, however, with a full and awe-stricken appreciation of White's daring, athleticism, and ability to rise to the moment -- literally so when he roared out of the gate during the first run of the halfpipe final and immediately grabbed "big air," reaching heights every one of his competitors cannot come close to achieving.

Simply mesmerizing.

6. Hannah Kearney wins the first US gold medal in Vancouver. In retrospect, the Norwich, Vt. native set the tone/theme for these Olympics with her victory in the women's moguls.

It appeared Jennifer Heil, the 2006 gold medalist, had given Canada its long-anticipated first gold medal on home soil when she took over first place as the second-to-last competitor to navigate the course.

Only Kearney remained.

When her run was done, Heil's gold had become silver, and Canada's wait was extended another day.

The host country entered these games banking on its "Own the Podium" initiative, but the US, with an Olympics-leading 24 medals to Canada's nine, has made the podium their own. It all began with Kearney.

7. Seth Wescott defends his snowboardcross gold from Turin. I'm telling you, television doesn't do justice to the out-and-out insanity of this sport, in which the racers jostle for position around turns and straightaways, and soar through the air at rapid speeds on snowboards.

And that last stretch before the finish line? Up close, it looks like an elevator dropping from the fifth story to the bottom floor.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Wescott, the easygoing 33-year-old and the pride of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, remained the only snowboarder to win Olympic gold in the event with a spectacular midair Mainer pass of Canadian Mike Robertson just before the finish line on the Cypress Mountain course.

These guys are nuts . . . but Wescott sure does make crazy look like a whole lot of fun.

8. Wayne Gretzky catches a ride in the back of a pickup truck. It was a somehow appropriate, in a casual, charmingly Canadian way, and little bizarre, too, to see the Great One slowly making his away across Vancouver in the back of a white pickup truck while lugging along the Olympic torch for the sort-of-grand finale of the Opening Ceremony.

But what truly made the moment was the unmistakable look of abject terror on Gretzky's face as the one-truck motorcade chugged through the streets to the second cauldron near the International Broadcast Center.

In fact, if you looked closely enough, you could practically read his thoughts:

"How did I get talked into this? . . . Man, this thing is hot . . . I hope I don't set my hair on fire . . . Are we there yet? . . . Hey, driver, slow down, it's not a race, eh! . . . Iconin' ain't easy . . . Are we there yet? . . . I wish Dave Semenko were here to help me right now. He'd know what to do . . . Don't touch me, people! . . . I wonder if 'Great One On Board' bumper stickers would sell . . . Are we there yet? . . . I knew I shoulda made Nash do this."

So there is our eight.

What and who are we missing? Evan Lysacek? Shani Davis? Julia Mancuso? Hannah Teter?

What good memories will stick with you?

Record viewership in Canada

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 22, 2010 08:31 PM

There were a number of disappointed television viewers in Canada Sunday night -- several million of them, in fact.

The Canadian men's hockey team's 5-3 loss to the United States was the most-watched sports program on record in Canadian television history, with an average of 10.6 million viewers. The audience topped the previous high set during the 2002 gold medal game in Salt Lake City between the two teams (10.3 million).

Peaking at 13 million viewers, the game was watched in part by nearly two in three Canadians, or 21.5 million viewers (64.3 percent of the Canadian population).

The game was also a boon to MSNBC, which had an average audience of 8.22 million viewers during the broadcast. It nearly topped the record 8.23 million it drew for election night coverage on Nov. 4, 2008.


Medal detectors

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 22, 2010 07:45 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- How successful has the United States been in the Vancouver Winter Games?

This successful: There are six days of competition remaining in the Games following today. And the US is already assured of tying its medal count from 2006.

With the women’s ice hockey team assured no worse than a silver medal by virtue of its rout of Sweden this afternoon in the semifinals, the US is guaranteed to win 25 medals, matching its output four years ago in Turin, Italy.

Team USA currently has won seven gold, seven silver and 10 bronze medals in Vancouver. Four years ago, the US won nine gold, nine silver, and seven bronze in Turino.

With two more medals, Team USA will set a record for most medals won at an Olympic Winter Games not held on US soil.

The most medals ever received by the US in an Olympic Winter Games was 34 (Salt Lake City, 2002).

The US has won the medal count at an Olympic Winter Games only once, at the Lake Placid 1932, where they collected 12 -- six gold, four silver and two bronze.

We're pretty sure there were no halfpipe or snowboardcross competitions in those days.

A friendly rivalry

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 22, 2010 05:15 AM

Preliminary game is a main event for Canadian and US hockey fans. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

Get Adobe Flash player

Daily snapshot: February 22

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 22, 2010 12:04 AM

Semi-tough? The women's hockey semifinals begin at noon when the United States takes on Sweden. The US, led by hat-trick specialist Jenny Potter, has been rolling, outscoring its three Group B opponents, 31-1. But if the US men's hockey team's instant-classic 5-3 victory over Canada last night wasn't reminder enough that upsets can happen, all the US women have to do is remember Turin, Italy four years ago, when they were stunned by -- yep, Sweden -- in the semifinals. 3 p.m.

And don't forget . . . Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the US enter tonight's free dance trailing Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir by 2.60 points in the ice dancing competition. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the US, silver medalists in Turin, are fourth. We're pretty sure there won't be any controversial Aboriginal costumes in this one, but I suppose you never know. 7:45 p.m.


Catching up with Jim Craig

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 21, 2010 06:30 PM
Tedy Bruschi
(AP File Photo)
For those of a certain generation, the 1980 US Olympic hockey team's "miracle" victory over the mighty Soviet Union stands as possibly the "Where were you when it happened?" sports event of all-time -- a notion that was bolstered when "Sports Illustrated" named it the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.

The lasting image from that impossibly dramatic upset -- save for perhaps this one -- is the picture you are looking at right now: scruffy and indefatigable goalie Jim Craig, the pride of North Easton, Oliver Ames, and Boston University, wrapped in the American flag as he searches for his father in the stands.

It's as timeless as timeless gets.

The 30th anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice" will be prominently featured this weekend as the Olympic hockey tournament heats up with Sunday's much-anticipated US-Canada showdown; NBC has a mesmerizing piece planned in which Craig, Mark Johnson, Mike Eruzione and broadcaster Al Michaels return to Lake Placid and reminisce about the magic that happened there.

We caught up with the gracious and friendly Craig, now 52 and a successful Boston-based motivational speaker and businessman, via telephone this week as he prepared to make his second trip to Vancouver during these Olympics. Here are a few of his recollections and opinions from our conversation:

They always stick together: When asked for a certain player to watch on any of the hockey teams in the Olympics, Craig -- naturally -- picked the Team USA goalie:

"It looks like Ryan Miller will be in there every night, so there's going to be a lot of a pressure squarely on his shoulders," Craig said. "He's an outstanding goalie, he really is, but there is going to be a lot of expectations of him because this is a young team and you're not quite sure how some of the inexperienced guys here are going to respond to certain situations.

"But they've got a good guy there behind them. Miller's outstanding, and I think he's going to be up to whatever they ask of him. I like watching him a lot."

Craig said he thought the United States did the right thing in giving an opportunity to young players rather than going with the Modanos and Tkachuks, the longtime veterans who formed the nucleus of a team that won just one Olympic medal, a silver in 2002. In fact, he's like to see the US program go one step further.

"I actually wish it would take a turn back to amateurs," Craig said. "But these young guys on the US team should have no fear. They haven't been afraid to play so far, and the talent is there. They just need to be poised and stay out of the penalty box and they can accomplish some things.

"I actually think it was really smart, what [Brian Burke and Team USA officials] did. You had some older veterans who were kind of used to losing here. Experience is a great conditioner to winning. If you look back on our team '80, Herb Brooks didn't take all the best players when he put us together. He took winners, whether it was his [University of Minnesota] guys or those of us from BU who were NCAA champs [in 1978]. If you have a bunch of players who have that one thing in common -- they want to win above all else -- they will bond as a team. It's a process, but it's worth it when you get there."

Herb Brooks was a good man: The legendary mastermind of Team USA was notoriously gruff and demanding of his players -- the pivotal skate-with-the-lights-out-'til-you-drop scene in the movie "Miracle" was only slightly Disneyfied, Craig said.

Adjusting to the coach's style was not easy for many of the players, but Craig said he realized even then that while Brooks could be distant, there was a reason he took that approach.

"There was always a method to Herb's madness," Craig said. "He treated all of us as individuals depending upon what he thought we needed and what he thought would get the best out of us, not only as players but as a whole.

"For me, he was a father figure. My mom had died [Margaret Craig died of cancer in 1977], my dad had just lost his job, and there was some pressure on some of us to skip the Olympics and turn pro so we would get some money. It was like, 'Why would you play in the Olympics? You could be getting paid to play.' But my mom had dreamed of me playing for the US, I was going to do that, fulfill that, for her, and Herb knew what my frame of mind was.

"Sure, he was tough. But he understood why it mattered to us, why it mattered to me and where I was coming from in my life, and I will always appreciate that about him."

Craig chuckles. "And I think history shows that he knew what he was doing, right?"

Happy to reminisce: It's been 30 years -- 10,950 days, give or take a sunrise or two -- since "The Miracle on Ice," and Craig acknowledges that a day does not pass when he isn't reminded of the accomplishment or asked to share a memory or recollection.

It would be understandable if he bristled at the notion that he is defined by the moment, or grew weary of reliving it time and again all these years. But that he says that is not the case whatsoever, and his jovial tone adds a layer of conviction.

"I get asked if it gets old all the time, and the answer is no, it doesn't," Craig said. "I understand where people are coming from with the question, if it's like "Groundhog Day" or something like that. But it's not, not really. It's such a special thing to be part of something that meant so much to people, to be part of something that happened 30 years ago and something that people will probably still be talking about 30 years from now."

Craig's legacy and role in the victory has benefited him to some degree both financially and professionally, of course, but he says his appreciation for the "Miracle" as much to do with what it means to other people as it has to do with what he and his teammates accomplished during those golden days in Lake Placid.

"What we did became an incredibly emotional, personal thing for people and it's such a positive memory for me and all of us who were a part of it," Craig said. "If anything, I'm lucky to have been involved in something that mattered to so many people."

US-Canada hockey live-blog/chat wrap

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 21, 2010 05:19 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- If you weren't prescient enough to stop by our special edition live-blog/chat with Boston.com's Chad Finn for the US-Canada instant classic, click the "replay" button below to relive the magic.

Bode takes gold in super combined

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 21, 2010 02:32 PM

bodegold.jpgVANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The lesson, as always: Doubt Bode Miller at your own peril. Because he will never doubt himself.

Miller completed a breathtaking and seemingly improbable run in the slalom to win the gold medal in the super combined this afternoon at Whistler Creekside.

“I skied with 100 percent heart and I didn’t hold anything back,” Miller said. “It’s just awesome. There’s nothing else to say. The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I’ll be proud of the rest of my life.”

Miller posted a combined (downhill and slalom) time of 2 minutes 44.92 seconds. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took silver (2:45.25), and Switzerland's Silvan Zurbriggen earned bronze (2:45.32).

After being shut out from the podium in Turin, Italy four years ago and receiving much scorn from media and teammates for his casual attitude, Miller has found redemption and then some here. The Franconia, N.H. native now has three medals in these Olympics, adding to his bronze in the downhill and his silver in the super-G.

The super combined is a downhill time plus one slalom run. Miller stood in seventh place after the downhill portion, completing the course in a time of 1:53.91 seconds, which was just 0.73 off the blistering pace of the leader, Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal (1:53.15).

Starting from the 23d spot in the slalom, Miller weaved through the gates in his usual hell-bent style, finishing in 51.01 seconds, which stood up as the third-fasted slalom run of the afternoon.

Miller, who cut back on training before the Olympics and said he pondered retiring, said his legs felt wobbly toward the end.

“My legs started feeling really wobbly,” he said. “I didn’t even feel like I was looking at the gate anymore.”

Such a sensational run seemed unlikely because the slalom hasn't been Miller's strong suit in recent years, and his freewheeling style has often led to him failing to complete races. He was regarded as a superior slalom skier earlier in his career, but his only result in the race on the World Cup circuit this season was a 14th-place finish in Adelboden, Switzerland in January.

But he did win a combined event at Wengen, Switzerland earlier this season. After his downhill run, he was typically confident that he could find his way to the podium.

"If I have a good slalom, I can definitely do it," Miller said. "It's not like I was going to be holding back anyway. But I am going to be going full gas in the slalom."

Did he ever. After completing his spectacular run through the 41 gates, he watched from the finish, smiling virtually the entire time, as the top six racers took a shot at his time. But Svindal and Italy's Dominik Paris, who was second in the downhill, veered off course and didn't finish, and all of the other racers were considerably slower.

American Ted Ligety, the defending gold medalist, had the fastest slalom run and finished in fifth place with a 2:45.82, 0.90 behind Miller.

With Miller's gold, this is the sixth straight Alpine race in these Olympics in which it has medaled, and it is the US's eighth Alpine medal here overall.

And Miller still has two more chances to add to his personal medal count. He competes in the men's slalom Saturday and the giant slalom Tuesday at Whistler.

“I felt awesome about it,” he said. “But still, it’s incredibly emotionally exhausting . . . I’ve got one leg that’s injured and another leg that’s on my boat already,” he said.

Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) won gold in 2006. Ligety had the fastest slalom run Sunday and finished in fifth place with a 2:45.82, 0.90 behind Miller.

* * *

A few other facts on Miller, as provided by the USOC's Craig Bohnert:

  • His three medals in Vancouver make him the 12th Alpine skier to win three in a single Olympic Winter Games. The record is four (Janica Kostelic Croatia, 2002).

  • He ties the record for most Alpine skiing medals by a man at a single Winter Olympics, and becomes the sixth man to win three Alpine medals at a single Olympic Winter Games.

  • Miller, Chad Hedrick (long track speedskating, 2006) and Apolo Anton Ohno (short-track speedskating, 2006) are the only three American men to win three medals in a single Olympic Winter Games, trailing only Eric Heiden, who established the record with five gold medals at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

  • His five career medals moves him to second on the all-time Alpine skiing medal list among men, trailing only Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who won eight.

  • This is Miller’s first gold medal. Until this point, he had been the only Olympic skier to have won four or more Alpine medals without a gold.
     

  • Daily snapshot: February 21

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 21, 2010 01:13 AM


    The showdown: The Americans lead Group A with six points, one more than the Canad . . . oh, who needs stats and standings? This one is the coveted ticket here in Vancouver, and the matchup is almost as much about emotion and national pride as it is a shot at the quarterfinals. I learned that from the roughly 62,000 people wearing red "Crosby 87" jerseys in the streets right now. 7:40 p.m.

    And don't forget . . . Bode Miller has a bronze in the downhill and a silver in the super-G. Do we hear a gold in the super combined? 3:15 p.m. . . . Tanith Belbin and her partner Ben Agosto are in fourth place entering tonight's original dance (7:15 p.m.). We know Johnny Weir will be cheering for them -- Belbin is his roommate during the Olympics.

    Ohno wins bronze, record seventh medal

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 11:55 PM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When it comes to winning precious medals, short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno now stands alone at the podium.

    But it took a daring last-lap dash to get him there.

    Ohno won the bronze medal in the men's short-track 1,000-meter race tonight at Pacific Coliseum. The medal is the seventh of his career, the most all-time by a US Winter Olympics athlete.

    Ohno, 27, broke the record he shared for exactly a week with long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair, who earned five golds and a bronze during her career. Ohno now owns two golds, two silvers, and three bronzes, and he has two more races remaining here in Vancouver, the 500-meter and the 5,000-meter relay.

    The gold and silver medals in the 1,000 meters were claimed by Korea, with Jung-Su Lee winning in an Olympic-record time of 1 minute 23.747 seconds and teammate Ho-Suk Lee second with a 1:23.801. Ohno arrived at the line at 1:24.128.

    A place on the podium was no certainty for Ohno as the final took shape. He began third on the inside and remained in that position behind Canadian brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin until there were three laps remaining.

    He made a quick move that briefly moved him into second place, but he fell back to fifth after a slight slip. But with the Koreans making their move to overcome the Hamelin brothers and take the lead, Ohno went for it with a half-lap remaining, slipping past the pair of Canadians and crossing the line ahead of Charles Hamelin, much to the chagrin of the crowd.

    By winning the bronze, Ohno . . .

  • . . . is tied for first on the all-time Winter Olympic total career medals by men, not including the skiing events.

  • . . . owns the most medals won by a short-track speedskater from any nation.

  • . . . is tied for 15th overall and seventh among men on the career Winter Olympic medals list.

  • . . . is the sixth short-track speedskater to win medals during three different Olympic Games.

  • . . . ranks fourth on the all-time Winter Olympic list for medals won, not including skiing events.

    * * *

    11:11 p.m. "Welcome to the Jungle" is pounding from the PA system. Knew they'd get the music right eventually.

    And now the arena is rocking with rising, dueling chants of "USA! USA!" and "CAN-A-DA! CAN-A-DA!" Great crowd, great atmosphere, great sport. Here's hoping for a worthy final.

    11:05 p.m. Reutter finishes fourth, with Zhou Yang of China taking the gold with a new women's 1,500-meter Olympic record of 2:16.99.

    Update, 10:39 p.m. Ohno is headed to the finals. Whether he made it by the length of his skate blade or half-a-length . . . well, your guess is as good as ours here in the arena.

    What we are sure of is that Ohno will get a crack at his seventh career medal tonight after edging Canadian Charles Hamelin and world-record-holder Si-Bak Sung of Korea at the line. Ohno and Hamelin advance to the final, but it wasn't certain until a replay was shown on the scoreboard.

    Ohno won the race in 1:25.033, with Hamelin earning the second berth in the finals at 1:25.62. Sung was left out, finishing just 0.06 behind the Canadian.

    Ohno began in fourth place on the outside of the 10-lap race. He took third on the seventh lap, passing China's Jialiang Han as he staggered a bit on a turn. Ohno remained in third most of the way.

    Then, with half a lap remaining and a berth in the finals at stake, it was time. He moved wide to the outside, then deftly cut inside of the leader Sung as well as Hamelin, passing them in one swoop going around the second-to-last turn. It appeared that Ohno was the first across the line, but it was not certain until the replay . . .

    The finalists are Ohno, both Hamelins, Ho-Suk Lee (Korea) and Jung-Su Lee (Korea).

    In the women's 1,000 meters coming up here in a minute or two, American Katherine Reutter is a finalist. She advanced from her semifinal after a fall caused by China’s Meng Wang. (In the arena right now, they're calling that "pulling a Celski.")

    Update, 10:33 p.m. The first semifinal -- a.k.a. The One Ohno Isn't In -- is underway, with J.R. Celski starting from the first (and inside position) . . .

    . . . and as we're writing that, he becomes Public Enemy No. 1 in the rink, at least temporarily, when his aggressive move on the final lap resulted in contact that sent Canadian Francois Hamelin skidding into the boards.

    Celski finished third -- not enough to qualify for the semis anyway -- but the crowd did enjoy a cheer moments later when it was announced he was disqualified.

    Ohno's race begins momentarily . . .

    Update, 9:33 p.m. Effortless. That's the first word that comes to mind to describe Apolo Anton Ohno's performance in his1,000-meter quarterfinal race moments ago.

    Ohno finished a mostly suspense-free second place to Canada's Charles Hamelin; the top two in each quarterfinal advance to the semis.

    Hamelin finished in 1 minute 23.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds ahead of Ohno.

    Ohno started third and remained there in the 10-lap race until 2 1/2 remained. That's when he made his move, easily passing Germany's Tyson Heung on the outside and pulling away along with Hamelin before cruising over the finish line.

    In the third quarterfinal, J.R. Celski, who earned a bronze in the 1,500 a week ago, finished second to Korea's Si-Bak Sung to advance.

    Also, a note from the women's 1,500 meters: Americans Katherine Reutter and Allison Baver both are in the semis.

    The men's semis are set to start at 10:28 p.m. As you might expect, there's lots of Zamboni action here between races.

    * * *

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Here at the Pacific Coliseum, it's almost showtime for Apolo.

    He probably requires no further introduction than that, but we'll go on with the formality anyway. Short-track speedskating Apolo Anton Ohno's status as a short-track speedskating icon (and a first-ballot "Dancing With The Stars" Hall of Famer) is already secure.

    But tonight he takes his first shot at an even greater legacy: The most decorated US Winter Olympian of all time. With a medal tonight, he will break his week-old tie with former long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair for the most career medals won by an American in the winter games, with six. Ohno enters with two complete sets of medals -- two gold, two silver, two bronze. Blair, as she reminded reporters jokingly -- but reminded us nonetheless -- earlier this week, has five golds and a bronze.

    Ohno, a three-time Olympian, has won a pair of medals in this event in the past -- a silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City and a bronze in 2006 in Torino, Italy. But a medal for the 27-year-old Ohno is far from a sure thing. He will start third in in the first quarterfinal, a deep field that also includes Canadian Charles Hamelin, Germany's Tyson Heung, and Italy's Nicolas Bean.

    Fellow American J.R. Celski, who took bronze in the 1,500 last Saturday when Ohno grabbed the silver, starts from the No. 2 position in the third quarterfinal. Other medal contenders should include South Koreans Si-Bak Sung, Ho-Suk Lee, and Jung-Su. Lee.

    The latter won gold in the 1,500 meters, while Sung and Lee fell while angling for position and wound up in a heap just before the finish line, allowing Ohno to slip in for an improbable silver and tie Blair's mark.

    Ohno is ranked second in the world in the 1,000 meters distance, but if he doesn't win his seventh medal tonight, he'll have two more shots in Vancouver. He still has the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay on his docket.

    * * *

  • There was some skull-thumpingly awful techno music playing as the entrants in the ladies' 1,500 meters warm up. The perpetrator is introduced over the public address system as DJ Irene. She'll never be mistaken for DJ Pauly D. The men are now warming up to a mix of hip-hop and AC/DC. The superior option, clearly. (Now Green Day. Even more progress . . .)

  • Tonight's theme at the Coliseum is "Celebrating the Yukon." If this guy puts in a cameo, I'll pass it along.

    All right, we'll be back for Ohno's lead-off quarterfinal, which is slated for 9:29 p.m. EST. The women's 1,500-meter heats are about to begin . . .

  • Aerialist Cook reaches finals

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 09:03 PM

    Belmont's Emily Cook was among three US ski team aerialists to qualify for Wednesday's finals.

    Cook, a three-time Olympian who is in the finals for the first time, qualified fifth with a score of 180.25.

    She did so despite a taking on lighter training load leading up to the games while she recovered from a bruised heel.

    "Every day's a new day," said Cook according to the US Ski Team website "I haven't trained much in the last six weeks, so I was really just relying on all my training from all of the years past. I'm very, very thankful to have put down two solid jumps."

    She said she plans to be more aggressive with her jumps in Wednesday's finals.

    "I'm going to up my degree of difficulty," Cook said, according to the website. "I downgraded a little bit today, just because of the amount of training time I had."

    "

    Vonn wins bronze in super-G

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 03:27 PM

    Make it two medals for Lindsey Vonn.

    Vonn, the gold medalist in the women's downhill, captured the bronze in the women’s super-G this morning in competition at Whistler Creekside.

    Her time of 1 minute 20.88 seconds was 0.74 off the 1:20.14 winning time of Andrea Fischbacher of Austria. She was a quarter of a second behind silver medalist Tina Maze of Slovenia (1:20.63).


    After deftly navigating a tricky right turn at the Franz's Run course at the midway point, Vonn Vonn struggled near the bottom section. She lost nearly a half-second from her time -- and a shot at the silver.

    "Once I got past those difficult sections, I kind of backed off the gas pedal," Vonn said. "I felt like I just didn't ski as aggressively as I could have, and I think that's where I lost the race."

    Vonn becomes the third American to win two Alpine medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, joining Franconia, N.H.'s Bode Miller and teammate Julia Mancuso.

    Mancuso was ninth in the super-G with a time of 1:21.50, while Conway, N.H.'s Leanne Smith tied for 18th in 1:23.05. Chelsea Marshall of Pittsfield, Vt. did not finish.

    Vonn will race twice more in Vancouver, in the slalom and giant slalom, but she's a better fast skier than a technical one, and those are not her best races.

    Mancuso, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the GS who has emerged from Vonn's shadow here with a pair of silver medals (downhill, super combined), could add to her own collection.

    * * *

    Here is a breakdown of multiple medal performances in a single Winter Olympics by US Alpine skiers, courtesy of the USOC and Olympic historian Bill Mallon:

    1948 – Gretchen Fraser
    1952 – Andrea Mead-Lawrence
    1960 – Penny Pitou
    1964 – Jean Saubert
    1994 – Tommy Moe
    2002 – Bode Miller
    2010 – Bode Miller
    2010 – Julia Mancuso
    2010 – Lindsey Vonn

    Daily snapshot: February 20

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 04:01 AM

    Bye-bye, Bonnie? Apolo Anton Ohno goes for his United States record-breaking seventh Olympic Winter Games medal in the men’s short-track speedskating 1000 meters. Should he finish on the podium, he will surpass the standard of six medals set by long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair. (For the record, she had five golds and a bronze, while Ohno has three sets of two. Just saying.)

    Stealing the show on snow? In the women's super-G at Whistler, Julia Mancuso goes for her third medal of these games, while Lindsey Vonn, who won gold in the downhill Wednesday but crashed in the slalom portion of the women's combined Thursday, tries to keep pace with her lesser-heralded Alpine teammate.

    And don't forget . . . The men’s 1500-meter long-track speedskating race will mark the last individual performance in Olympic medalist Chad Hedrick’s career. Teammate Shani Davis will try to send him out with a parting gift that is something less than gold . . . Lebanon, N.H. native Nick Alexander will achieve flight during large hill ski jumping at Whistler.

    Lago departs after risque photos surface

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 19, 2010 07:39 PM

    Scotty Lago's Olympic adventure has come to an abrupt end.

    Lago, the free-spirited Seabrook, N.H. native who won bronze in the halfpipe Wednesday night, left the Olympics voluntarily today after the website TMZ.com published suggestive photos of a woman kissing the snowboarder's medal.

    The decision to go home was Lago's, according to a US Olympic Committee spokesman. The 23-year-old apologized to the USOC as well as the US Ski and Snowboard Association.

    "At this point, no action has been taken against Scotty," said USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

    In the first of the pair of photos published on the website this afternoon, Lago, dressed in a Team USA t-shirt and wearing the medal he had been formally awarded that night, is smiling as a woman kneels and kisses the medal hanging at his waist. The photos appear to be taken in a crowd of people on a public street.

    In the second photo, the woman is biting the medal as he holds it.

    Lago's departure is consistent with the USOC's emphasis on good behavior from its athletes here in Vancouver. US team members were required to complete an "Ambassador Program" before coming to the games, and the USOC has reiterated on numerous occasions that it has taken steps to avoid embarrassing public behavior by its athletes.

    Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

    Daily snapshot: February 19

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 19, 2010 12:50 AM

    Nasty? If turning in to the Alpine skiing super-G to watch apparently reformed bad boy Bode Miller go for his second medal of the Vancouver Games doesn't entice you, how about this from Ted Ligety via Twitter on Wednesday: "Just finished freeskiing the super G hill. It's in horrible condition. It's gonna be a nasty race." Uh-oh. 2:30 p.m.

    And don't forget . . . Actually, it's a relatively light day -- there are just a couple of other medal events: The women's cross-country 15k pursuit (4 p.m.) and the men's and women's skeleton (6.45 p.m.).

    Women's halfpipe blog: Silver for Teter, bronze for Clark

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 18, 2010 08:40 PM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Add two more medals to the United States' tally here in the Winter Games -- and don't forget credit them to a pair of New Englanders as well.

    Hannah Teter won the silver and Kelly Clark took the bronze in the women's halfpipe tonight at Cypress Mountain. Teter is from Belmont, Vt., while Clark is claimed by two states -- she was born in Newport, R.I., but moved to West Dover, Vt. at age 7.

    They join Seabrook, N.H.'s Scotty Lago -- who won the bronze in the men's halfpipe Wednesday night -- along with Seth Wescott (gold, snowboardcross), Hannah Kearney (gold, women's moguls) and Bode Miller (bronze, men's downhill) as New England athletes to medal in Vancouver.

    Teter, the defending gold medalist from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, had the best score after the first run at 42.4. But that was surpassed in the second run by Australian Torah Bright, who earned a 45.0 after flawlessly sticking her five moves to stake a claim to the silver.

    "It was amazing," said Teter. "It was such a crazy event. It was crazy to be part of such a good show."

    Even if in the end, Bright stole it with her golden -- and pressure-filled -- final run.

    "I was standing up there [before my run] and was like, 'There's nothing I can do now. Whatever will be, will be.' "

    Clark found her way on to the podium with a 42.2 in her second run, bumping China's Liu Jiayu, who scored a 39.3 on her first run and failed to take back the spot from Clark on her second run, finishing with a 34.9.

    "I'm so happy to walk away with this medal tonight," said Clark. "I had fallen on my first run and to finish with a medal . . . it's incredible."

    The US entered with some hopes of sweeping the event, but defending X-Games halfpipe champ Gretchen Bleiler and Elena Hight both fell on both of their runs.

    The Teter/Clark combo marks sixth multiple-medal event of the Games for the US.

    Update, 9:53 p.m.: Liu Jiayu is coming out of the gate now. She has the last shot at knocking Clark out of the top three and bumping Teter (at least temporarily) to bronze . . .

    . . . but she doesn't do it, meaning Teter and Clark are guaranteed of medals. Teter's the last one up right now.

    Update, 9:44 p.m.:Clark leaves the gate singing to herself, and after completing her run that included a 900 Indy grab, she's still singing a happy tune, scoring a 42.2 to put her in position for the bronze.

    Clark, who was born in Rhode Island but moved to Vermont at age 7 and took up snowboarding then, seems to have lots of fans in the crowd, and many of them are waving gold and black placards that say "Go Kelly!"

    Five more competitors to go, including Teter, so we'll see if she can hang on.

    Update, 9:40 p.m.: There will be no halfpipe medal for X-Game champ Gretchen Bleiler.

    After completing a pair of 540s during her second run, she lost her balance while appearing to try a third. Pumping her arms to no avail, her board slammed down hard on the edge of the halfpipe as she came tumbling toward the middle of the course.

    She did not appear to be injured and smiled and waved to the crowd as she walked off.

    Hight also will not medal after also catching the edge and falling during her second run.

    So the US's medal hopes are up to Clark -- who is up now -- and Teter, the two New Englanders.

    Update, 9:35 p.m.: The second run is underway, and Australia's Bright -- one of the favorites -- delivers a spectacular run that ends with a 45.0 score and a new leader.

    Let's see if Bleiler can match her. She's sitting and basking in the crowd before beginning her run.

    Update, 9:25 p.m. So after the first run, Teter has the best score by more than three points at 42.4, with China's Liu Jiayu second (39.3), and France's Sophie Rodriguez third (34.4)

    Among the other Americans, Kelly Clark is seventh, Elana Hight is eighth, and Gretchen Bleiler is 10th.

    The scores are not cumulative, so each snowboarder will have a chance to top her score in the second and final run.

    Update, 9:19 p.m. Vermont's Hannah Teter takes over first place with solid if not spectacular run that gets her a 42.4. She didn't get as high as Bleiler did, but made it through the run.

    And as we're writing this, Kelly Clark follows with a wipeout while trying to execute a 1080, and Australia's Torah Bright, who had the best score in qualifying, also fell.

    Update, 9:16 p.m. Bleiler gets some big air and appears to be in the midst of a terrific run, but she suddenly slips after pulling off a pair of impressive moves, including what looked to be a 540 McTwist. She's in eighth place with an 11.0.

    Here's Teter . . .

    Update, 9:11 p.m.China's Liu Jiayu takes over the top spot with a 39.3.

    Bleiler coming up, and she's animated, waving to the camera with both hands.

    Update, 9:05 p.m. And we're underway in the finals.

    Elena Hight is the first up for the US and third overall, but she wipes out after he board clips the top of the lip 20 seconds or so into her run. She receives a 24.6 score.

    Canada's Mercedes Nicoll follows Hight and earns a 34.6, good for second so far.

    * * *

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Would it be greedy to suggest the US could sweep the podium in the women's halfpipe tonight?

    Well, yeah. Of course it would. But it's also not out of the realm of possibility.

    Vermonters Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter were among three American snowboarders who earned spots in the halfpipe final during qualifying this afternoon at Cypress Mountain.

    Clark scored a 45.4 on her first run, good for second place behind Australia's Torah Bright (45.8).

    Teter, who won the gold medal in this event during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, was fourth, while fellow American and reigning X-Games champ Gretchen Bleiler was fifth.

    A fourth US snowboarder, Elena Hight (perfect name for this sport), is in via the semifinals.

    Clark, Teter and Bleiler had already advanced to the 12-woman finals based on their top-six finish in qualifying.

    The finals begin at 9 p.m. More to come then . . .

    Lysacek wins the gold

    Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff February 18, 2010 08:26 PM


    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Reigning world champion Evan Lysacek can add Olympic gold to his medal collection.

    Skating a flawless artistic program, Lysacek proved he didn't need a quadruple jump in his program to overtake Russian Evgeni Plushenko and record the first US victory in the event since Brian Boitano in 1988.

    Every American man who has been reigning world champion (Dick Button 1952, Hayes Jenkins 1956, David Jenkins 1960, Scott Hamilton 1984) has won the Olympic title. But no world champion since Hamilton had won it. (Boitano was not world champion in 1988.)

    "It's been a tough couple of days,'' said Lysacek after the victory ceremony. "I was nervous, but that comes from wanting it so badly. I saw that American flag go up and I couldn't believe it was for me.''

    It came down to the component scoring. Plushenko, who on the gold in the 2006 Turin Games, didn't do the full quad-triple-double, barely saved the axel, and had rough landings on both lutzes. Thus, he gave away most of his technical jumping edge.

    Lysacek beat Plushenko, 257.67-256.36, a 1.31-point advantage. The difference came down to a missed opportunity by the Russian in that quad-triple-double. The jump was supposed to end with a double loop, a simple maneuver that is worth 1.5 points. It would have been enough for the top spot.

    "I thought that he looked great,'' said Lysacek of his rival. "He had a great skate. It wasn't about gold, silver, or bronze for me. That was a great skate.''
    .
    Lysacek was the first of the final six skaters to compete. "Worlds rejuvenated my love for skating, but it also confirmed to me that the most important thing about figure skating is the daily training that goes on at home,;; he said as he waited for all the marks to come in. This year I've worked harder than I ever have before to prepare for this competition. The whole season has been building toward this and waiting for that clean skate the whole season, and to get it in most important moment is pretty special.

    “I wasn’t even tired at the end, the crowd and everything kept me going.”

    Japan's Daisuke Takahaski took home the bronze. Johnny Weir finished sixth with a score of 238.87 and Jeremy Abbott, the reigning US champion, came in ninth (218.96)

    ***
    Update, 11:52 p.m.The big question was what Johnny would wear (a glittering silver and black ensemble), but he turned in a solid skate, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd at Pacific Coliseum. Master of hyperbole Scott Hamilton says it was his best skate ever. However, Weir skipped the opening quad and didn't do the triple axel-triple toe. He just didn't do enough and could only move into fifth place. Fans are booing the marks, but they don't see the element scoring.

    Update: 11:38 p.m. Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, the reigning Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion, came out of retirement this year. He was sitting fifth coming in, but turned in an uninspired performance and couldn't overtake Lysacek .....and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi is down, failing to land a quad toe. He took a big risk and it didn't pay off. But a solid and energetic recovery and he moves into second.. Johnny Weir is next.

    Update: 11:33 p.m.. Nobunari Oda, who was in fourth place coming in, broke a skate lace and the program interruption is a mandatory 2-point deduction. Had he not resumed within three minutes, he would have been disqualified. As it is, the mishap probably cost him any chance at a medal.

    Update, 11:27 p.m. For the record, Powers reports that the nine judges (no countries are listed in the new system) are from the US, Canada, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, France, and Sweden. Five are from former Eastern Bloc socialist countries. The computer randomly drops two; seven judges count.

    Update, 11:15 p.m.: No quad jump for Lysacek, but a technically solid skate. He was clean (with a good save on the second triple axel) but very deliberate, if not tentative on the jumps. If Plushenko also is clean, Plushenko probably wins.

    Update, 11:09 p.m.: The leaders are warming up.. Counting base jump values only (no spins or footwork) Russian Evgeni Plushenko has a 59.3 to 55.0 edge on Evan Lysacek, which means that Lysacek has no margin for error on other stuff and needs better component (i.e., artistic) marks. (Aren't you glad Powers is in my ear? You won't get this kind of analysis from Scott Hamilton). Lysacek is next up.

    Update, 10:51 p.m. Big crowd reaction for favored son Patrick Chan, of course. The Canadian hopeful is the reigning world silver medalist but had a leg injury for much of Grand Prix season.and was a disappointing seventh coming in, He struggled again with his jumps, staggering out of a triple lutz and falling on a triple axel. The fall is an automatic 1-point deduction, plus minus -3 execution marks. No chance for a medal.

    Update, 10:30 p.m. A disastrous performance by France's Brian Joubert, a five-time world medalist who won the title in 2007. He fell on his opening quad toe, then staggered out of his triple axel. He was sixth in the Turin Games but probably won't be in the top 15 here.

    Update, 9:40 p.m. The authority on all things Olympic, John Powers, reports that Jeremy Abbott, who was 15th after the short program, fell on his quad toe and singled his triple flip (I knew it didn't look good).. If he finishes worse than 12th, it'll be the worst performance by a US champion in Olympic history.

    * * *
    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The order for the top contenders in tonight’s men’s free skate, with their planned program, standing after the short program, and song.

    Evan Lysacek and Patrick Chan do not include a quadruple jump, which carries the highest technical score, in their routines. Each skater must complete eight jump elements, three spins and two step sequences.

    Patrick Chan, Canada (seventh)
    Phantom of the Opera

    triple axel/double toe loop
    triple flip/triple toe
    triple lutz
    circular step sequence
    flying sit spin
    triple axel
    triple lutz/double toe/double loop
    change foot sit spin
    triple loop
    triple salchow
    double axel
    straight line step. seq.
    change foot combination spin

    Evan Lysacek, US (second)
    Sheherazade

    triple lutz/triple toe
    triple axel
    triple salchow
    circ. step seq.
    flying sit spin
    triple axel/double toe
    triple loop
    triple flip/double toe/double loop
    triple lutz
    double axel
    flying change foot sit spin
    straight line step. seq.
    change foot comb. spin

    Nobunari Oda, Japan (fourth)
    Charlie Chaplin medley

    quadruple toe
    triple axel/triple toe
    flying sit spin
    triple salchow
    circ. step seq.
    triple axel
    triple lutz/double toe/double loop
    triple flip/double toe
    triple loop
    change foot sit spin
    double axel
    straight line step seq.
    change foot comb. spin

    Stephane Lambiel, Switzerland (fifth)
    La Traviata

    quad toe/double toe/double loop
    triple lutz
    quad toe
    triple flip/triple toe
    circ. step sequence
    comb. spin
    double axel
    triple loop
    triple flip/double toe
    flying sit spin
    serpentine step sequence
    triple salchow
    change foot comb. spin

    Daisuke Takahashi, Japan (third)
    La Strada

    quad toe
    triple axel/double toe
    triple loop
    flying change foot sit spin
    circ. step seq.
    triple flip/triple toe
    triple salchow
    triple axel
    triple lutz
    triple lutz/double toe/double loop
    flying change foot. comb. spin
    straight line step seq.
    change foot comb. spin

    Johnny Weir, US (sixth)
    Fallen Angel

    quad toe
    triple axel/triple toe
    triple salchow
    triple axel
    flying sit spin
    circ. step sequence
    triple loop
    triple lutz/double toe/double toe
    triple lutz/double toe
    double axel
    flying change foot sit spin
    straight line step seq.
    change foot comb. spin

    Evgeny Plushenko, Russia
    Tango Amore

    quad toe/triple toe/double loop
    triple axel
    triple axel/double toe
    triple loop
    flying sit spin
    triple lutz
    change foot sit spin
    circ. step. seq.
    triple lutz/double toe
    triple salchow
    double axel
    straight line step seq.
    change foot comb. spin

    Daily snapshot: February 18

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 18, 2010 05:42 AM

    Piping up: Shaun White did his thing with style in the men's halfpipe Wednesday, defending his gold medal from Turin with a transcendent effort that included landing the Double McTwist 1260, a move only he has pulled off in competition. Tonight, it's the women's turn to show what they can do, with Vermont's Hannah Teter, the defending Olympic gold medalist, among the favorites, along with Newport, R.I. native Kelly Clark, the 2002 gold medalist in Salt Lake City, and reigning X-Games champ Gretchen Bleiler. It will be a surprise if the US doesn't claim another medal or two (dare we suggest three?) today on Cypress Mountain.

    Feeling super? There's no time to rest and rejoice for freshly-minted gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, who gives it a go this morning in the super combined, a day after blowing away the field in the downhill. There is some question as to how her injured shin will feel in the event, which is essentially a slalom leg plus an abbreviated downhill, especially since she's liable to feel some effects of Wednesday's race. Of course, as she's already proven, talent plus adrenaline and toughness can take you a long way.

    And don't forget . . . The men's figure skating free program: Plushenko. Lysacek. Who ya got? And if you're not into that rivalry, we know you'll tune in to check out Johnny Weir's wardrobe curiosities.

    Cranberry pride

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 18, 2010 02:59 AM

    RICHMOND, British Columbia -- Richmond growers provide 13 million cranberries to an Olympic art display. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Stephen Stefanou, a designer known for his prominent and large artistic displays, worked with more than 60 family-owned Richmond farms to create a rendition of the Canadian Olympic Committee's logo made from 13 million cranberries. The majority of the participating farms belong to the Ocean Spray Cooperative, which has its headquarters in Lakeville-Middleboro, Massachusetts. Stefanou's installation is a part of the Richmond Revealed program, a series of events and public art displays.

    Wednesday's results and Thursday's events

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 18, 2010 01:06 AM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Olympics sports writer John Powers talks about Wednesday's results and gives a preview of Thursday's events.

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Halfpipe: Gold for White, bronze for Lago

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 17, 2010 11:33 PM

    Well, you can see why Shaun White is regarded as the Michael Jordan of snowboarding.

    No one rises to the big moment better. And no one gets more air beneath him when he does.

    White, just 23 but long an icon among the snowboarding crowd, proved head, shoulders, and feet above the competition tonight in the men's halfpipe final at Cypress Mountain. He scored a 46.8 in his first run, which would have been enough to win the gold medal in the event he also won in Turin in 2006.

    But in his second run, he found a way to top even himself, earning a staggering 48.4 from the judges to do exactly what he was expected to do entering the Vancouver Games: dominate the competition. It was greatness personified.

    As a punctuation mark on the redhead's instantly legendary performance, he nailed the dangerous and fabled Double McTwist 1260, a move that thus far only White has been able to land in competition.

    "It was the savvy thing to do," White said. "Saucy. Keep it weird. My coach said at the top, 'Don't do this unless you're gonna stomp it.' "

    White said there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to go for it on his second run.

    "I just felt like I didn't come all the way to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns," he said. "I put down the tricks I worked so hard on."

    Finland’s Peetu Piiroinen took silver. Scotty Lago, now the official pride of Seabrook, N.H., grabbed the bronze.

    White's victory caps a huge day for US athletes -- high-profile ones in particular. Earlier, Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who was probably the only American athlete touted as much as White entering these Games, took gold in the women's downhill.

    It marked the third multiple-medal event of the day for the United States -- speedskaters Shani Davis (gold) and Chad Hedrick (bronze) both medaled in the 1,000 meters tonight.

    The six medals are the most in a single day by the US in a Winter Games, surpassing the five earned on Feb. 20, 2002 at Salt Lake City..

    White becomes the fourth American male to successfully defend an Olympic gold medal, joining Dick Button (figure skating, 1948 and 1952), Seth Wescott (snowboardcross, 2006, '10), and Davis (long track speedskating, 2006, '10).

    As for what's next for White . . .

    "Sleep," he said. "And then take on the world."

    Update, 11:12 p.m. Lago fell on his second run, locking him in the bronze position while ensuring that White will win the gold.

    Lago is, of course, thrilled -- the CTV camera catches him rejoicing while asking "Where's my family?" A nice moment follows when they find him for a group hug at the edge of the mixed zone.

    Update, 11:09 p.m. Seabrook, N.H. native Scotty Lago will win a medal tonight in the men's halfpipe.

    Which medal remains to be seen.

    Lago was bumped from second place by Finland's Peetu Piiroinen, who scored a 45.0 on his second run. But because Podladtchikov, the third-to-last competitor, fell, Lago is assured of a medal.

    Update, 11:06 p.m. Louis Vito won't make the podium, scoring a 39.4 on his second run. He needed to beat a 42.4 to crack the top three.

    Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland is in third place, having scored a 42.4 on his first run, 0.4 away from Lago.

    Update, 10:57 p.m. Here is how the five judges scored White's first run:

    9.4, 9.3, 9.3, 9.3, 9.5.

    No one else even approached a 9.3. Lago received an 8.9 from one judge.

    The competition is in reverse order of finish, so Lago will go 11th and White 12th in the second run.

    The US has some pretty sweet uniforms, with red, white, and blue plaid tops and pants that look like XXXXXXL jeans.

    Update, 10:38 p.m.: So that's what they call Big Air.

    White makes it look easy in his first run of the finals -- he really looks like he gets a couple of feet higher than all of his competitors -- and his score reflects his performance:

    46.8.

    It's the best score of the day, topping his own 45.8 in qualifying, and it should be plenty for the gold.

    Lago, whose score White beat by a staggering four points, is bumped to second, while Vito falls to fourth.

    We'll see if he breaks out the Double McTwist 1260 in the second and final run.

    White's moves included massive air, back to back double corks, before concluding with what appeared to be a backside 900.

    Update, 10:34 Louis Vito of the US, the eighth snowboarder to take on the halfpipe, moved into third with a 39.1. Lago still holds the lead with 11 boarders having gone of the 12 in the finals.

    You know who is up next . . .

    Update, 10:23 EST: It's supposed to be Shaun White's night, and chances are it will be.

    But New Hampshire's Scotty Lago just earned a 42.8 score in his first run of the finals of the men's halfpipe at Cypress Mountain. He has the lead after four competitors.

    Upon completing his run, Lago pumped his fist and shouted as a vocal US contingent in the crowd cheered wildly.

    Could the US put a pair on the podium tonight in the halfpipe, just as it did earlier in the day in the women's Alpine skiing downhill?

    * * *

    SEMIFINALS

    Update, 9:46 EST: Scotty Lago of Seabrook, N.H. advanced to the finals in men’s snowboard halfpipe on Cypress Mountain.

    He will be joined by reigning gold medalist and heavy favorite Shaun White and fellow Louie Vito, both of whom advanced directly from qualifying runs, as US entrants in the final, along with Greg Bretz, who also made it out of the semis.

    Workers have tidied up the course and snowboarders are taking practice runs right now. The finals should begin in roughly a half-hour.

    * * *

    There was no Double McTwist 1260-- not yet, anyway -- but US snowboarding superstar Shaun White sailed to a first-place finish in the qualifying round of the men's halfpipe this afternoon at Cypress Mountain.

    By winning his heat, White earned a berth in tonight's medal round, which is slated to begin at 10:15 EST.

    "The qualifiers are a strange limbo," White said. "We practice for finals every single day. This was almost more nerve-wracking.

    Scotty Lago of Seabrook, N.H., advanced to the semifinals, finishing sixth in the second heat. The top three from each of the two heats qualify for the finals, while the next six in each heat reach the semis, which begin at 8:15 p.m. EST.

    Lago said he had hoped to skip the semifinals to save his energy for the final.

    "I'm going to stick to the same run [in the semis]," Lago said. "I believe that will be enough. I'll just land it clean and big like I know how to do."

    American Louie Vito also is in the finals after finishing third in White's heat (41.8). Greg Bretz, who finished fourth in the second heat, will try to qualify from the semis along with Lago.

    "I think the US put together a super-strong team," Lago said. "We're all top performers. Hopefully, we'll see [me, Shaun, Greg, and Louie] in the finals."

    White, of course, is already there, having earned a score of 45.8 from the judges, the best of either heat; Finland's Peetu Piironinen won the second with a 45.1. But White's run was considered conservative, at least for him, and he limited his selections from his bag of tricks. There was no sign of the Double McTwist 1260, a daring and dangerous maneuver that includes 3-1/2 twists in midair.

    White started with a Backside Air, followed by a Frontside 1080 Double Cork, then a Cab 1080 Tailgrab before finishing with a Backside 900.

    "[A 45.8] out of 50 isn't bad," White said.


    * * *

    If you like your halfpipe with a helping of comedy on the side, keep an eye out for the French team.

    All three of their semifinalists -- as well as their one teammate who did not advance -- are wearing mustaches.

    "Some of the guys have arguments [reasons] for it, but not me, I just like it," said France's Arthur Longo. "It's a little wink to the crowd and something to smile about."

    We'll be back with some live blogging from the halfpipe finals at 10:15-ish . . .


    Gold for Vonn, silver for Mancuso

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 17, 2010 01:36 PM

    The United States landed a thrilling 1-2 combo in the women's downhill today at Whistler Creekside, with Lindsey Vonn justifying the hype that accompanied her to Vancouver and Julia Mancuso providing a reminder that the US Alpine ski team has more than one elite competitor.

    LVonn won her first Olympic gold medal today with a time of 1 minute 44.19 seconds, more than a half-second ahead of teammate and silver medalist Mancuso (1:14.75). It was Mancuso's second career Olympic medal -- she won won the gold in the GS at Turin, Italy.

    Austria's Elisabeth Goergl took the bronze, more than a second-and-a-half behind Vonn.

    Vonn's condition was something of a mystery entering the race. As the two-time defending World Cup champion and winner of five of six downhills this season on the circuit, she came to Vancouver as the prohibitive favorite in the race.

    But she revealed shortly after arrival at Whistler that she still was suffering from effects of a badly bruised shin suffered during a fall Feb. 2 during a race in Austria, and the friendly and charismatic pre-Olympic "face of the Games" for the US appeared to be in limbo.

    She rarely took to the slopes in the past couple of weeks, but she gained a little bit of additional time to recover because of various delays and postponements of the skiing events in Whistler due to uncooperative weather.

    But there was a new question on observers' minds virtually from the moment Vonn shot out of the gate during her run: Shin injury? What shin injury?

    It did not appear to be any hindrance whatsoever. Starting 16th, a favorable position since she could receive reports of the course's condition while making her run while it was still relatively fresh, she put together a determined practically flawless performance save for a barely visible stumble near the 53-second mark that cost her a fraction of a second.

    Vonn bested Mancuso's time at all four checkpoints and won by a remarkable margin of 0.56 seconds. Her gold was essentially secured at the midway point after rival Maria Riesch of Germany finished nearly two seconds behind her pace starting from the 22d position.

    The Vonn-Mancuso combo atop the podium marks the first time a pair of Americans have finished in the top two spots in an Olympic Alpine race since Phil and Steve Mahre claimed gold and silver in the slalom and Deb Armstrong and Christin Cooper accomplished the feat in giant slalom in 1984 at Sarajevo.

    Also, they are the first duo from the same country to win silver and gold in the women's downhill in the same Olympics since Sarajevo, when Switzerland's Michela Figini and Maria Walliser claimed the top spots on the podium.

    While course conditions were said to be favorable at the beginning of the race, there were a number of crashes. Sweden's Anja Paerson, Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, and France's Marion Rolland all suffered spectacular and frigthening spills.

    Update, 12:13 p.m. PST: Germany's Maria Riesch just completed her run, the 22d competitor out of the gate. She was considered one of Vonn's legitimate challengers, but she finished 8th, 2.07 seconds off Vonn's pace.

    We're moving past the halfway mark here with American Alice McKennis's run, and it's becoming clearer how impressive Vonn's run really was.

    She finished more than a half-second ahead of Mancuso and nearly a full second ahead of Elisabeth Goergl, who is in position for the bronze.

    Update, 12:08 p.m. PST: If Vonn and Mancuso hold on to the 1-2 spots, they would be the first pair of skiers from the same country to win silver and gold in the women's downhill in the same Olympics since Sarajevo in 1984, when Switzerland's Michela Figini and Maria Walliser claimed the top spots on the podium.

    Another delay as Sweden's Anja Paerson is helped off after losing control during a jump and tumbling down the course.

    Update, 11:53 p.m. PST: If Lindsey Vonn is still hurting, imagine how impressive she must be when fully healthy.

    Vonn just completed a spectacular, near-perfect run down Whistler Creekside of 1 minute 44.19 seconds, taking over first place from her teammate Julia Mancuso (1:44.75).

    After completing her run, which appeared practically flawless save for a slight stumble near the 53-second mark, a grinning Vonn, who has been plagued by a painful shin injury, collapsed in the snow while raising her ski poles skyward as the crowd roared its approval.

    Vonn beat Mancuso's time at all four time checkpoints:

    First checkpoint:
    Vonn: 24.08
    Mancuso: 24.25

    Second:
    Vonn: 40.71
    Mancuso: 41.14

    Third:
    Vonn: 1:12.85
    Mancuso: 113.68

    Fourth:
    Vonn: 1:26.54
    Mancuso: 1:27.20

    Update, 11:47 p.m. PST: Vonn's coming up right . . . now. Good time to mention that no American has ever won gold here. The most recent of their four all-time medals (two silver, two bronze) was Picabo Street's silver in 1994 in Lillehammer.


    Update, 11:28 PST: Could another American steal the show?

    Julia Mancuso just completed a spectacular run, and she knows it -- she's beaming and waving at the finish line after taking the lead with a time of 1:44.75.

    Elisabeth Goergl of Austria is second at nearly a full second back.

    In a related note, our Olympics guru John Powers refers to the relationship between Vonn and Mancuso as "cordial." Interpret it as you will.

    There's a brief delay right now after a frightening crash by Switzerland's Dominique Gasin, who got turned around in the air after navigating a turn. One ski flew off while she skittered out of control down the course. She walked off under her own power

    Update, 11:18 PST: Nice run for Californian Stacey Cook, who took a temporary lead after four competitors.

    Cook fell during a training run Monday and was airlifted from the mountain after hitting a fence and landing on the back of her skis. She was just one of two skiers to train that day before it was canceled because of poor visability.

    * * *

    It's almost showtime for Lindsey Vonn and the 44 other competitors in the women's downhill.

    Vonn will start from the 16th position at Whistler Creekside, an enviable spot since the course should be broken in and in good condition.

    Among other US skiers, Stacey Cook starts 4th, Julia Mancuso 10th, and Alice McKennis 23d.

    Back in a few . . .

    Catching up with Bonnie Blair

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 16, 2010 07:30 PM
    Get Adobe Flash player

    Bonnie Blair says she skates only "every once in a while" nowadays, the long-track legend's time more often spent on her two children's competitive endeavors rather than her own.

    But at age 46, the effervescent Blair still looks -- and sounds, with her friendly Wisconsin lilt -- just like the athlete who secured her place as an Olympic legend with five gold medals and a bronze over three Winter Games (1984 Sarajevo, 1988 Albertville, 1994 Lillehammer).

    During an appearance at the USA House this afternoon to unveil and autograph her likeness on a chalk mural honoring 19 winter athletes who are in the US Olympic Hall of Fame, she said she has no problem whatsoever with the possibility that short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno will break her mark of six career Winter Olympic medals by a US athlete. Ohno tied the mark in the 1,500-meters Saturday, and he will compete in three more events here.

    "I think it's wonderful," said Blair. "[What Ohno is doing] is wonderful for the sport, it's wonderful for speedskating, it's wonderful for the United States, and the more we keep doing as a sport and a country, that's a great thing."

    What follows are a few other thoughts from Blair, who is among the 19 US athletes who have or will be honored on the mural, including hockey players Billy Cleary and Jim Craig, figure skaters Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton, and speed skater Dan Jansen.

    You were famous, mom? Ohno's approach of her record has put Blair's name in the headlines again, something that is an occasional source of amusement to her family.

    My sister back home [in Milwaukee] said, 'They're talking about you every other day on TV!" She's like, 'It's unbelievable. If people didn't know you had the record then, they definitely do now.' "

    Of course, it's also a source of tremendous pride. Blair's children with her husband, former Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank, arrived in Vancouver last night. She has a son, Grant, 11, and a daughter, Blair, 9. [That's Blair Cruikshank, not Blair Blair.]

    "For them to kind of see a bit about what mom and dad did all those years, I'm very excited for them to be here, take the Olympics in and let them see what it's all about," Blair said.

    She said her kids are athletes, but mom and dad's sport isn't their thing.

    "They found their passion at this point in their life. My son is all about hockey, so we're going to go to some hockey games, and my daughter, she loves gymnastics, competes with it, that's what's in their hearts," Blair said.

    "That's the thing as parents: We want them to find their passion, whatever it is. I would have loved for them to speedskate, but they don't want to. That's OK, because they've found what they want to do."

    Now that's a coffee table: Blair laughed when told she's supposed to be walking around Vancouver with the medals around her neck. She said she's actually found a cool use for them as the ultimate conversation piece.

    "I actually have them in a coffee table that is in the shape of the Olympic rings," she said, dispersing a public relations staffer to find a folder in her duffel bag where had a picture of the table. "A very good friend made it for me. It's got a glass top. It's one of the most unique pieces of furniture I can imagine, and I can share it with anybody that comes to the house. It's very cool. It's something that I'm very proud of."

    Holding up the picture, she explained that each ring represents a Winter Games in which either her or her husband competed.

    "You can maneuver it to get things out of it . . . you can kind of see there's some etching in there," Blair said. "It says Sarajevo, then Calgary, then Albertville, Lillehamer, then Nagano because my husband was in the Nagano Games.There were five games between us, so we got the five rings.

    "My husband was training for Salt Lake and just narrowly missed it. And the guy that made this said he'd already planned to make an end table of just one ring."

    Membership has its privileges . . . sometimes: One would think a decorated Olympian would be able to pull a few strings to score a pair of tickets to the US-Canada hockey game.

    Apparently, that isn't always the case.

    "It doesn't matter how many Olympic medals I have," she said. "I can't get into USA-Canada!"

    Gold for Canada's Ricker; Jacobellis DQ'd in semis

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 16, 2010 05:19 PM

    Update, 6:06 p.m. PST: Jacobellis did speak to the press approximately an hour after the end of the race.

    She explained that she saw some family and friends she didn't know would be there, and felt compelled to greet them before meeting with the media.

    Here are a couple of her quotes:

  • It's amazing to have had such a history in the sport and made such a significant mark. I'm only 23, and I've already accomplished so much. This is only one race. I just have to put everything into perspective."

  • "I've had a great career, but sometimes I dominate and sometimes I fall into a funk where things like what happened today happen. It's not the end of the world. But I guess I don't have the best track record with the general public."

    Update, 3:41 p.m. PST: Forget that part about quotes for now. Jacobellis didn't speak to the media in the mixed zone after the race. We imagine the USOC will provide some comments from her, and if they do, we'll post them here.

    We don't want to make too many presumptions here, but it is fair to wonder if Jacobellis has suddenly discovered a higher level of regret for her missed opportunity at gold in 2006.

    While she has dominated the X-Games and is regarded as the best women's snowboardcrosser in the world, the opportunity to call yourself an Olympic gold medalist comes around once every four years.

    It will be interesting to see if her mindset has changed, if this meant more to her than she let on all along, or if she simply shrugs it off as an element of the sport.

    One other note: Bob Ryan is writing a column on Jacobellis and the event for tomorrow's newspaper. Given his review of her performance in '06 -- I believe the operative word is "scathing" -- his take on today's development is already atop my morning must-read list.

    Update, 3:17 p.m. PST Canadian Maelle Ricker just gave the host country its second gold medal of the games, beating France's Deborah Anthonioz (silver) and Swiss racer Olivia Nobs (bronze) in the ladies' snowboardcross final.

    Jacobellis officially finished fifth. We'll have more from her, including quotes, in a little bit.

    Update, 2:56 p.m. PST Don't say we didn't warn you . . .

    There will be no redemptive gold medal for Lindsey Jacobellis in Vancouver. In fact, there will be no medal at all.

    Jacobellis clipped a flag and veered off course during the first turn of the second semifinal run, meaning she was disqualified. She immediately raised her arms and looked skyward, then grabbed her helmet with both hands, her disappointment and frustration evident.

    It's uncertain at the moment what caused her mishap -- she did not fall, but simply appeared to struggle with her balance briefly after a jump before slipping off the course.

    We should note that she showed a sense of irony for the moment:

    Completing her run to loud cheers from US fans well after the other three racers, she grabbed her board after going airborne over the final jump -- a similar move to "the Truckdriver grab" that caused her fall, and so much consternation, in Turin.

    Update, 2:43 p.m. PST Now that's how you make it look easy.

    Jacobellis breezed through the fourth qualifying heat moments ago, winning by roughly have the length of a football field. (That would be 50 yards, I believe.) There are now eight racers remaining as the first heat of two semifinal races is underway.

    The Jacobellis story, of course, is one of the more compelling -- and probably well-documented -- of these Olympics. During the Turin Games, she appeared to have a gold medal in hand during the sport's Olympic debut when she went for "method-air" style points on the second-to-last jump near the finish line, crashed, and wound up with the silver.

    She was roundly criticized for hot-dogging and taking it too casually ("It was just a race," she said), and the easy angle is that she's looking for redemption here. But there's a cameraderie-before-competition ethos of snowboardcross, and she never seemed particularly bothered by the mainstream perception.

    VANCOUVER -- So far, so good for Lindsey Jacobellis this afternoon during ladies' snowboard cross at Cypress Mountain.

    The same, however, can't be said for the course itself.

    Jacobellis, the 24-year-old Vermonter and Stratton Mountain product, finished second to Switzerland's Mellie Francon in each of her of two qualifying runs, completing the first in 1 minute 26.13 seconds and her second in 1:25.41.

    The qualifying runs have been delayed on a couple of occasions to repair problems on the course. The conditions on Cypress Mountain were sloppy and slushy yesterday during Maine native Seth Wescott's gold-medal performance in the men's event, and they are worse today, with fog and rain contributing to the problems.

    Workers toting shovels walk on to the course in between every run and fix divots and potholes as well as reshape the contours around the turns.

    The mishaps among the competitors have been limited and the cheering crowd -- many holding "Go Lindsey!" signs -- is undeterred, but the conditions are far from ideal.

    The quarterfinals are underway now. We'll be back at the top of this post with updates. Jacobellis is about to go now in the fourth heat . . .


  • Got pins?

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 15, 2010 11:38 PM

    Olympic pin trading is one family's favorite spectator sport. (Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    It's official: Bronze for Bode

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 15, 2010 03:38 PM

    3:38 p.m. One race into the Vancouver Games, and Bode Miller has already surpassed his output from Turin four years ago.

    Miller won the third Olympic medal of his career this afternoon -- and the first since he claimed a pair of silvers at the '02 Games in Salt Lake City -- by hanging on to win the bronze today in the men's downhill at Whistler Mountain.

    Miller, eighth of 64 racers out of the gate, took an early lead with a run of 1 minute, 54.40 seconds. He was bumped to second by just .02 by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the defending World Cup overall champion who ended up with the silver.

    The gold went to Switzerland's Didier Defago, who surpassed Svindal and Miller as the 18th racer down the hill with a time of 1:54.31. There were no changes among the top three during the final 46 competitors.

    Defago, 32, is the first Swiss skier to win gold in the men's downhill since Pirmin Zurbriggen at the 1988 Calgary Games.

    Miller’s medal is the first for the US in the men's downhill since Tommy Moe won gold in 1994.

    3:15 p.m. A few quotes from Miller from an interview a couple of moments ago with CTV as he waited for other skiers to finish:

  • He said he was "super-nervous all morning," but that he can't get too excited because "at my age, I'd give myself a heart attack."

  • He applauded the crowd at Whistler. "This is a unique opportunity to feed off the crowd's energy. Hopefully, I keep making less and less mistakes and end up on the top of the podium.”

  • On his races to come: “I know I’m going to be fired up.”

    3:08 p.m. Forty-two down, 22 to go. For fear of a jinx we don't want to suggest Bode's in a pretty good spot, but . . .

    2:56 p.m. With German Stephan Keppler the 32d racer down the mountain, we're now at the halfway point.

    2:53 p.m. Marco Sullivan, starting from the 27th spot, is the fourth and final United States entrant. Andrew Weinbrecht started fourth and Stephen Nyman sixth. Sullivan lost control near the bottom of his run -- it appeared to begin when he was airborne -- and crashed into a gate, but he walked away unscathed.

    2:51 p.m. It is considered a surprise that Defago and not Cuche is the Swiss skier in medal contention. They were expecting a different Didier.

    2:43 p.m. Much has been made of Miller's improved attitute regarding his perception of the Olympics -- his attitude of nonchalance and/or indifference in Turin has not made the trip to Vancouver.

    I meant to note earlier that further evidence that these Games matter to him could be found in his reaction -- looking skyward with a smile, his hands clasped -- after completing his run. Cool to see.

    2:33 p.m. It should be said that Miller still has a decent chance of medaling here.

    Most of the top racers -- including World Cup downhill leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Canadian Robbie Dixon (who crashed and didn't not appear injured) have completed their runs. They were the 22d and 23d skiers to leave the gate, respectively.

    2:19 p.m. And now it's bronze or bust for Bode

    Swiss racer Didier Defago grabbed the lead from Svindal just two racers after the Norwegian had take the top spot, bumping Miller to third with a time of 1:54.31.

    2:09 p.m.: Well, that didn't last long.

    Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the 16th racer down the mountain, just took over the top spot to edge Miller by .02 with a time of 1:54.38

    Svindal appeared to overtake Miller's time near the end his run. He appeared to ski flawlessly after being slightly off the pace for the first quarter.

    1:50 p.m. PST: It was an early start for Bode Miller in the men's downhill this morning -- he was the eighth of what will be 64 competitors to navigate down the Whistler Creekside mountain course.

    It was also a fast start for the Franconia, N.H. native -- he took over the lead from France's David Poisson with a run of 1:54.40.

    The downhill is the first of five events Miller will ski during these Games. His bid for redemption after failing to medal in Turin, Italy in 1996 is among the more compelling storylines here in Vancouver.

    Miller is the most decorated US Alpine skier ever, with 32 World Cup victories, but he owns just a pair of silver medals from his four Olympic appearances, both won in Salt Lake City in 2002.

    The race is finally taking place after being postponed over the weekend. The temparatures on the mountain are in the upper 20s, the hard, fast conditions should benefit the skiers.

  • Daily snapshot: February 15

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 15, 2010 05:04 AM

    Miller time: Actually, maybe that's not the best way to put it since Bode Miller has admitted that his disappointing performance in Turin four years ago could in part be attributed to his affinity for the night life. But the rebellious American downhiller and four-time Olympian says he is taking it more seriously this time around. "I'm psyched. I'm ready to win," said Miller, who owns a US-record 32 World Cup victories but has collected just a pair of silvers in the Olympics, both coming at Salt Lake City in 2002. He's competing in five Alpine events here, and he'll get his first shot at redemption today in the downhill -- presuming the weather cooperates. The race was among the skiing events canceled at warm and rainy Whistler over the weekend. 1:30 p.m.

    Maine event: Seth Wescott, whose gold-medal run in the inaugural Olympic men's snowboardcross four years made the wild, crowd-pleasing sport one of the surprise hits of the Turin Games, goes for a repeat today at Cypress Mountain. But the 33-year-old Mainah, who owns a popular restaurant/bar at Sugarloaf Mountain when he's not zipping around on a snowboard somewhere, may not be the best bet to reach the podium on the US team. Teammate Nate Holland, who crashed in Turin and finished 14th, says he has been focused on Vancouver since then. Qualifying heats, 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m.; Quarterfinals, 5:26 p.m., 5:32 p.m.; Semifinals, 5:46 p.m.; Finals, 5:52 p.m.

    Hannah Kearney interview

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 15, 2010 02:36 AM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vermont native and Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney talks about moguls, the Red Sox and peanut butter at the USA House in Vancouver. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Bilodeau's golden moment ends Canada's drought

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 14, 2010 09:41 PM

    VANCOUVER -- Alexandre Bilodeau won more than just a gold medal tonight in the men's freestyle skiing moguls. He won a permanent place in Canadian lore.

    The 22-year-old became the first Canadian athlete to win a gold medal on home turf, expertly navigating the Cypress Mountain moguls course in 23.17 seconds to post a winning score of 26.75. Dale Begg-Smith, who competes for Australia despite being a Vancouver native, was second, while 19-year-old American Bryan Wilson was third.

    Canada did not win a gold medal in the two previous Olympics it hosted, the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1998 Winter Games in Calgary.

    Bilodeau's unexpected victory eased the burden on a Canadian team that entered the Winter Games with a mantra of "Own The Podium," but had been frustrated in the first day-plus of competition, most notably when Jennifer Heil could not claim the gold in the women's moguls Saturday.

    The final skier of the competition, France's Guilbaut Colas, had a chance to knock Bilodeau from the top. But when his score was posted -- he finished sixth -- Canadian fans erupted in celebration and song.


    Sunny day, sunny dispositions

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 14, 2010 05:24 PM

    VANCOUVER -- So now we know. The sun does shine here after all.

    We arrived in the city Thursday; the blue skies finally arrived today. And judging by the thousands upon thousands of people who roamed downtown this afternoon, visitors were eager to get a look at the spectacular waterfront basked in sunlight rather than the familiar slate-gray sky.

    Navigation was not easy, and any attempts to go against the flow quickly proved futile. The congested foot-traffic was reminiscent of a Manhattan sidewalk -- with pedestrians' snarls swapped for smiles, of course. But the scene was magnificent to behold. Here are three vignettes from a few hours spent caught up in the crowd, and perhaps the moment as well . . .

    * * *

    "Hello and welcome to the Vancouver and the main media center. If you are here to see the Olympic flame, please follow the sidewalks to the end of Thurlow Plaza. Thank you, and have a nice Valentine's Day."

    It is Robbie Young's job to make that announcement through a bullhorn every single minute, give or take a few seconds, through his entire three-hour shift at perhaps the busiest spot in the city.

    While the message is occasionally altered -- Young occasionally gives "Happy Chinese New Year!" a shift -- the 23-year-old Vancouver native's delivery is unfailingly enthusiastic.

    One might think it is an Olympian feat in itself, to say same thing 180 times in 180 minutes without the tedium setting in at, oh, the three-minute mark.

    One would think wrong.

    "Are you kidding? It's been the best two days of my life," said Young, pausing between announcements for a quick Q&A. "I got to see [Wayne] Gretzky light the torch Friday, then I got to go to Yaletown [a trendy section of the city] and watch the best fireworks display I've ever seen in my life the next night. I asked for this job so I could be in the middle of the action, and it's been incredible so far."

    Young makes his announcement from an oversized lifeguard's chair on the corner of the blocked-off intersection at Cordova Street and Canada Place Way. But to him, his perch might as well be a throne.

    "I'm the most popular guy in town," he says before readying the bullhorn once again. "I've been telling everyone that."

    * * *

    The swapping and bartering of souvenir collectors' pins is such a traditional part of the Olympic experience that it might as well be considered a medal event itself.

    But for Harvey, one of a half-dozen pin hobbyists who displayed their wares on small wooden tables in front of Canada Place on the waterfront this afternoon, it's not about the cash so much as it is the camaraderie of being part of something grand.

    "I'm retired. This is my way of seeing the world," says Harvey. "I try to recoup what I spend to get here. Just want to break even."

    Harvey chooses not to reveal his last name -- "I'm just Harvey," he says -- but says he is from Calgary and has swapped pins at every Olympics since the 1988 Winter Games in his home city, a statement his varied and eclectic collection appears to confirm. If you desire a Breast Cancer Awareness pin of Marge Simpson dancing with her dear Homer, Harvey's your guy.

    He looks like what the singer Jimmy Buffett might if he'd chosen memorabilia over music and margaritas. He wears an "I Love Snow" pin on the lapel of a jacket that's a souvenir from the 1994 Lillehammer Games, and his red Gilligan-style bucket hat is dotted with 30 or so others, including an eye-catching and appropriately golden pin from the 1980 Lake Placid games.

    His location is prime, and business, like everything else downtown today, is bustling. In the few moments we chat, he's approached by potential customers and trade partners from Italy, Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands, the latter searching for a Dutch speedskating pin.

    It's one Harvey does not have, but no matter.

    "I buy, sell, trade, and talk," he says. "Hopefully not too much talk."

    * * *

    Much to the chagrin of the locals, not to mention NBC, the Opening Ceremonies here will probably be remembered for the Three-Legged Cauldron Malfuction. But it should be recalled the lighting of a second flame downtown -- one that is supposed to stand as the symbol of the Vancouver Games -- went off without a hitch, despite the look of sheer terror on torchbearer Wayne Gretzky's face as rode across town in the back of a pickup truck in the rain.

    The waterfront flame is a spectacular and humbling sight even in the daytime, and the pedestrian traffic perpetually looped to and then from a view of the torch. But it's also off-limits, with a chain-link fence and other barriers preventing visitors from coming within hundreds of feet of the cauldron.

    Dustin Guyda, who was among approximately 25 police officers and security personnel overseeing the scene, said most seemed content to take pictures and admire the flame from afar, though he said he did hear occasional gripes.

    "A few people have let us know they don't like it, and sometimes not very politely," he said. "But most understand the reasons. They don't want the torch to get damaged -- not that it would be vandalized, but more by wear and tear. And it is somewhat dangerous because of the fire."

    Guyda said he had heard that there may be some alterations to barrier so that visitors could get closer and take better pictures, maybe in the next few days. But today at least, the list of those allowed close is short and exclusive.

    "I'm pretty sure they'd let Gretzky back in," he said. "But he's about it."


    Saturday's results and Sunday's events

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 14, 2010 01:56 AM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Olympics sports writer John Powers talks about Saturday's results and gives a preview of Sunday's freestyle skiing, biathlon, and nordic combined. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Olympic dissent

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 13, 2010 08:12 PM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Protesters damage property in downtown Vancouver, including the Hudson's Bay store. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Welcoming the Olympics

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 13, 2010 05:38 AM

    Canadians share their thoughts on hosting the world's winter athletic competition. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Get Adobe Flash player

    Saturday's Olympic events

    Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 13, 2010 03:02 AM
    Get Adobe Flash player
    Olympics sports writer John Powers gives a preview of Saturday's alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, and speed skating events. (Video by Yoon S. Byun, Globe Staff)

    Vonn not sure she can compete

    Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 10, 2010 07:55 AM

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    American skier Lindsey Vonn revealed Wednesday morning on the "Today" show that she has a shin injury that could affect her participation and performance in the Winter Olympics, which begin Friday.

    Vonn said her shin bruise is extremely painful because it is located at a point of contact with her ski boot. She could not give "Today" show host Matt Lauer an estimate -- in terms of percentage -- of how healthy she was entering the Games.

    Later Wednesday, at a press conference in Vancouver, Vonn said she was unsure she'd be able to compete in the games.

    "I'm sitting here today questioning whether, you know, I'll be even able to ski," Vonn said. "I have to play it by ear."

    Vonn said she injured her right shin in a training run a week ago in Austria. It was diagnosed, she said, as a deep muscle bruise, and Dr. William Sterret, a doctor for the US ski team, told her it could take several weeks to heal.

    Vonn is widely regarded as the top American athlete at the Games, and she was planning to compete in all five Alpine skiing disciplines at Vancouver. The first, the women's super combined, is scheduled for Sunday.

    "I honestly don't know if I'll be able to do it," Vonn said.

    The injury on the eve of the games is reminiscent of the 2006 games in Torino, Italy, when Vonn -- then Lindsey Kildow -- crashed during a practice run and was taken to a hospital. Pain medication helped her race, but she did not win a medal.

    Vonn said she may have to limit her training runs, and she did not rule out skipping a race if she is not up to it.

    “I’m a lot less sure about this injury than I have been in the past,” she said. “I’ve fought through injuries in the past. I’m no stranger to that. But it’s going to be really hard. I have to stay positive and do the best I can. That’s all I can do.”

    According to the New York Times, Vonn has not skied the Olympic downhill course at Whistler yet because Canadian officials have kept it closed to all but the Canadian ski teams.

    Vancouver next stop for X Games stars

    Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 1, 2010 05:35 PM

    If you watched any part of Winter X Games 14, you know the extreme sports extravaganza has been immensely popular for its cutting-edge presentation and thrilling action.

    For three X Gamers with ties to New England, the next stop is the Olympics, which wisely began including snowboarding and other X Games-style events in the winter program at the Nagano, Japan games in 1998 and added extreme sports events to every winter Olympiad since.

    In women's superpipe at Winter X 14, Kelly Clark of Newport, R.I., and a Vermont native, was second. She's also the defending Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe.

    In the same event, Hannah Teter, who is also originally from Vermont, was third and rising star Ellery Hollingsworth of Darien, Conn., was fifth.

    In men's snowboarding, Scotty Lago of New Hampshire is an up-and-comer who is part of the US snowboarding team, but he failed to reach the finals in men's superpipe.

    Olympics bloggers

    Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following reporters:.

    Headlines

    DAN EGAN COVERAGE POWERED BY
    Killington
    Coors
    Nashoba Valley
    Nashoba Valley
    archives