Winter Olympics Day Two Round-Up: Simon Ammann Takes First Gold
The second day of the Vancouver Olympics began with the men's normal hill ski jump at Whistler Creekside. Although the indisputable favourite was considered to be Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the experienced jumper Simon Ammann excelled with a 105 m first attempt and a 108 m follow-up, giving him a points total of 276.5.
Ammann became the first ski jumper to win three individual Olympic golds since Finland's Matti Nykanen.
Poland's Adam Malysz's and Gregor Schlierenzauer's challenges earned them a place on the podium.
Ecstatic Ammann later commented: "I have no words to describe the situation. It's crazy. I tried so hard and I focused so much on my competitions here. But everyone here is at their best."
The second batch of medals came in the women's biathlon 7.5 km sprint: Slovakian Anastazia Kuzmina took gold, with Germany's Magdalena Neuner and France's Marie Dorin completing the podium.
Kuzmina traversed the course at Whistler in 19 minutes and 55.6 seconds, while converting nine of her 10 shots at the rifle range. She became the first Slovakian woman to collect a gold in the Winter Olympics.
In speed skating, the Netherlands' prodigious Sven Kramer won gold in the 5000 m before a vocal audience and the Dutch Royal Family at the Richmond Olympic Oval. South Korean Lee Seung-Hoon and Russian Ivan Skobrev took silver and bronze, respectively.
Kramer's time of 6:14:60 established a new Olympic record.
Elsewhere in speed skating, South Korea dominated in both the men's and women's pre-final events, with a number of Olympic Records being set by its competitors.
In stark contrast, in the men's 1500 metres at least, Canada experienced a degree of disappointment, with Guilarme Bastille and Olivier Jean crashing, and Charles Hamelin failing to advance from the semifinal.
Any disappointment for Jean evaporated—at least briefly—when he was reinstated due to interference from China's Liang Wenho.
Jean placed fourth in the 1500 m final.
Gold in the final was, predictably in retrospect, taken by South Korea's Lee Jung-Su. The USA's Apolo Anton Ohno and J.R. Celski captured silver and bronze.
With his second place, Ohno was able to celebrate the accomplishment of becoming the most successful American male Winter Olympian, surpassing speed skating predecessor Eric Heiden's record.
In the women's moguls, the American Heather McPhie faltered under immense pressure and lost her balance. She was propelled into the slushy snow, denying her a medal.
Canada's Jenniffer Heil, supported by an enthusiastically partisan crowd that sensed auspicious destiny for the 25-year-old, momentarily occupied first place, to the jubilation of those present.
The Americans, however, refused to indulge the home crowd with sentimentality, and New Hampshire-born Hannah Kearney duly supplanted the Canadian in the mogul event's last attempt. Her compatriot, Shannon Bahrke, seized the bronze.
In luge, now irrevocably affected by the tragedy which preceded the opening ceremony, the death of Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili was commemorated with a minute of silence prior to the competition's beginning.
Fellow competitors honoured the 21-year-old through the understated but poignant use of black strips emblazoned on their helmets, while coaches wore black armbands.
Kumaritashvili's teammate, Levan Gureshidze, was absent from the day's training runs and did not participate in the subsequent competition.
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