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Speedskating

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 menís 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 menís 1500-meter long-track speedskating race will mark the last individual performance in Olympic medalist Chad Hedrickís 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.

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.

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Daily snapshot: February 17

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 17, 2010 12:52 AM


Here's Lindsey: We've seen her in commercials. We've seen her in the SI swimsuit issue. Now, after concerns about her injured shin and days of uncooperative weather at Whistler, we'll finally see Lindsey Vonn ski. The Minnesota native and oft-dubbed "Face of the Games" for the United States team was the favorite in the women's downhill, but her true health remains somewhat of a mystery; she said the bumpy course caused her pain in her injured leg during practice runs. Vonn has proven her toughness before. Should she do it again today in victory, all of the hype will be more than justified. 2 p.m.

White-out conditions? Heard of the Double-McTwist 1260? Nope, that's not the name and calorie count of the latest offering at McDonald's. It's snowboarding megamogul Shaun White's mysterious and complex new trick, which he says he hopes to break out in today's halfpipe. In truth, the trick, which White refers to as "massive," is no joking matter; the 1260 refers to the number of degrees in turns he makes -- yes, that's 3 1/2 revolutions. Gulp. Be safe up there, Tomato.Final, 10:15 p.m.

And don't forget . . . Speedskater Shani Davis essentially used the 500 meters Monday as high-profile warmup, pulling out after one race to focus on preparing for today's 1,000 meters. His decision should be justified -- he is the heavy favorite as the world-record holder and defending gold medalist in the event. In terms of his legacy, the stakes for Davis are high: Should he win, he will become the first skater in Olympic history to win gold in the event twice.

Catching up with Bonnie Blair

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 16, 2010 07:30 PM
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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!"

Saturday's Olympic events

Posted by Yoon S. Byun February 13, 2010 03:02 AM
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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)

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