2010 Winter Olympics Day 7: Team USA: The Good and the Bad
Day seven of the Winter Olympics saw six gold medals up for grabs, as athletes competed in eight events.
Between Evan Lysacek, Lindsey Vonn, Hannah Teter, Gretchen Bleiler, and Johnny Weir, some of the biggest names from the American camp were in action on Thursday.
There were high expectations for the men's and women's hockey teams, and Team USA's women were also expected to feature highly in the super-combined skiing and halfpipe.
Then of course was the men's figure skating and the plight of Lysacek who was looking to overturn a minimal deficit in his quest for gold.
Here's the best and the worst of Team USA's performances on Day seven in Vancouver.
GOOD: Evan Lysacek As Good As Gold
Evan Lysacek turned in the performance of a lifetime in the late-night figure skating final to win gold on Thursday.
Second after Tuesday's free skate, Lysacek produced his very best when it mattered most, setting a personal best of 167.37 for a grand total of 257.67.
He landed a beautiful triple axel, triple lutz, and triple axel-double toe, and his footwork sequences were stunning.
He knew that with Evgeni Plushenko throwing down quadruple toe loops, his own routine, especially the transitions and footwork, would need to be inch perfect. Tonight, they almost were.
In his full black outfit, Lysacek pumped both fists into the air to the shouts of “Yes! Yes! Yes!" Then all he could do was sit back and watch.
Johnny Weir was also stunning, leaving everything he had on the ice for a score of 156.77 (a total of 238.67). It wasn't enough to knock Lysacek off the top spot and, with only Plushenko left to skate, he knew he had at least a silver.
But the Russian, a little tight, landed his quad toe-triple toe and a triple axel, but it was only good enough for second place. Plushenko needed 166.83, but he could only manage a 165.51 as a stunned Lysacek celebrated back stage.
GOOD: Julia Mancuso Wins Second Silver Medal of Games
Julia Mancuso charted a courageous line through Thursday afternoon's slalom run to earn her second silver in two events and tie Bode Miller for the most Olympic medals ever by a U.S. skier at three.
"When I realized that I got another medal, it's that moment that you wait for as an athlete," Mancuso said. "It's the moment that you realize that I've been working so hard for this moment, and to know that really, anything's possible. I didn't expect that from myself, I just believed and went for it."
Mancuso, who also won downhill silver Wednesday and giant slalom gold in Torino, now ranks tied for sixth all time among U.S. women in Winter Olympic medals—still just 25 years old.
Yet her age and recent performances belie two years of struggles on the World Cup circuit because of a back injury and changes in equipment regulations that mandated bigger, heavier skis for the petite Mancuso.
Third after downhill, Mancuso went hard for the slalom leg, barely maintaining control around the gates and thrilling the Whistler crowd as she snuck into first past Austria's Kathrin Zettel.
She lost out on the gold to Germany's Maria Riesch, but she didn't seem to mind.
BAD: Lindsey Vonn Crash and Burn
Lindsey Vonn's bid for a second gold medal of the Games came to a crashing holt after a tumble on the slalom ruined her medal hopes Thursday afternoon.
Vonn, leading the super combined competition after the downhill run, hooked her tip around a gate and crashed late in her slalom run. She probably didn't need to go as hard as she did to pick up a medal, but Vonn, as is her signature, gave it everything she had.
Riesch reversed her eighth-place downhill fortunes with a stylish, smooth slalom that unseated Mancuso, and Vonn fell behind her close friend at the last interval by .18 seconds before hitting a gate and losing her ski.
A course worker handed it back, and she made her way down to the finish to deliver a congratulatory hug to Riesch, her best friend on the tour.
"I was just fighting hard," Vonn said. "It happens in slalom. I was hoping that it wasn't going to happen today, but I gave it my best."
Vonn said she will continue treatment for a bruised shin before the super-G on Saturday at 10 a.m. Friday is a day off for the women skiiers.
GOOD: Women's Hockey Improves to 3-0
Natalie Darwitz scored a goal and added two assists to help power the US women’s ice hockey team to a 6-0 victory over Finland Thursday afternoon at the UBC Thunderbird Arena.
With the three points gained today, Darwitz now has 11 for the tournament, setting an American record for most points scored in an Olympic tournament.
She surpassed the mark of 10 set by Cammi Granato at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
The Americans spread the scoring around. Darwitz was joined by Karen Thatcher, Meghan Duggan, Julie Chu, Hilary Knight, and Molly Engstrom in finding the net.
Jenny Potter, who’d logged hat tricks in each of the first two games of the tournament, had only one shot on goal as the US strafed the Finnish net with 42 shots. Jessie Vetter kept a clean sheet, turning away all 23 shots on goal by Finland.
The win closes Group B play with the United States at the top of the table with a 3-0 record. The Americans advance to the medal round, where they will face Sweden, the runner-up in Group A with a 2-1 record.
BAD: Curlers Throw Victory Away Yet Again
Team USA’s curling team lost its third extra-end game in a row at the Vancouver Olympic Centre Thursday, falling to Denmark, 7-6, and dropping to the bottom of the nine-team standings at 0-4.
As in the previous two, USA had the last shot of the game, but failed to convert it into victory.
USA had a chance to take a substantial lead in the ninth end, but Shuster’s attempted double takeout didn’t clear both rocks, leaving the Americans to settle for one and a 6-5 advantage.
In the 10th, USA had the sole counter in the house until Denmark’s Johnny Frederiksen navigated through a tight port to remove the offending rock and stick in the house. Shuster drilled through the same hole with his last shot to regain the advantage, only to have Frederiksen again duplicate the shot to force the extra end.
In the extra end, a great double peel by USA second Jeff Isaacson helped keep the ice clear for Shuster’s last shot. But Frederiksen made a soft tap back of USA’s shot rock to give his team a chance to win, and when Shuster’s takeout hit the rock dead center, it jammed on the USA stone in the back and stayed around for the winning point.
USA plays France next at 2 p.m. PST Friday, Feb. 19.
GOOD: Lanny Barnes in Best Biathlon Performance
Lanny Barnes from Durango, Colo. recorded the highest US women’s Olympic finish in 16 years in the 15km individual biathlon event Thursday morning at Whistler Olympic Park.
She had a final time of 43:31.8, good for 23rd place, the best showing since Joan Smith and Joan Guetschow went 14th and 17th, respectively, at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games.
The gold medal went to Norway’s Tora Berger in a final time of 40:52.8.
The women return to action on Sunday, Feb. 21, with the 12.5km mass start event at 1 p.m. PST.
GOOD: Rafalski Leads Unbeaten USA to Win Over Norway
Brian Rafalski scored two goals in the third period as the US men’s ice hockey team posted a 6-1 victory over Norway on Day seven of the Games.
The Americans out-shot the Norwegians by a 39-11 margin and never trailed. Rafalski received scoring help from Ryan Malone, Chris Drury, Phil Kessel. Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, and Joe Pavelski each picked up two assists.
The Americans are now 2-0 and sit alone atop Group A pending the outcome of this evening’s match between Switzerland and Canada. The US side returns to the ice Sunday, Feb. 21, for a 4:40 p.m. PST match against the home-standing Canada team.
BAD: Abbott Fails To Impress in Free Skate
Fifteenth after the short program, US Champion Jeremy Abbott seemingly lacked confidence from the get go tonight. He failed to land his opening jump, a difficult quad toe loop, and he later botched a triple flip.
Although he fought hard after the errors, he only recorded a score of 218.96. He was visibly upset after the short program and this result will do nothing to help him feel better. He should feel proud of the season he has had though, and his time will come.
It was not the Olympic Games Abbott had hoped for, but he can leave Vancouver with the experience of a lifetime, knowing that he gave it all he had. It wasn't his finest hour, but he's still an incredible talent.
MIXED: USA's Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark Claim Medals, Bleiler Falls Twice
Vermont's Hannah Teter claimed the silver medal and Kelly Clark won the bronze in the women’s snowboard halfpipe as the United States logged its sixth multiple-medal result of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
Teter’s 42.4 on her first run was bettered by a 45.0 from Australian Torah Bright on the second run, a score no other competitor could match.
Clark used a 42.2 on her second run to find a place on the podium.
In a mixed night on the halfpipe, Elena Hight finished 10th with a best run of 24.6, while fan-favorite Gretchen Bleiler fell on both runs and finished 11th.
GOOD: Pikus-Pace in Skeleton Medal Contention
Noelle Pikus-Pace from Orem, Utah, is in fifth place midway through the women’s skeleton competition at the Whistler Sliding Center.
With a total time of 1:48.51, she is 0.55 seconds behind the pace set by the leader, Amy Williams of Great Britain, who has a 1:47.96.
Pikus-Pace is only 0.16 off the bronze medal, as Canada’s Mellisa Hollingsworth has a 1:48.35.
America's Katie Uhlaender is ninth after two runs with a 1:49.04.
The women’s skeleton competition continues with heat three beginning at 3:45 p.m. PST on Friday, Feb. 19, followed by heat four at 4:55 p.m.