Medal Count for 2010 Olympics: Day Nine Round-Up, Ski-Jump History
The ninth day of competition saw history made for Swiss ski jumper Simon Ammann and frustration for the US contingent. In total, 18 medals were awarded to 11 countries.
South Korea gained four medals, including a gold in speed skating, while Sweden excelled in the cross country pursuit, taking a gold and bronze. The United States continues to lead the medal table, with a total of 23—an impressive nine ahead of Germany.
At the Whistler Creekside, Julia Mancuso had the privilege of opening the ladies' Super-G, hoping to reproduce the initial promise of her male counterparts, Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht.
Mancuso's prospects for gold, however, was certain to be dismissed in favour of Lindsey Vonn and Germany's Maria Riesch, who have both taken gold at the Vancouver Games.
The 25-year-old briefly deviated off the course during her run, making it immediately doubtful that she would medal, but she was able to regain control.
Despite the error, Mancuso's time of 1.21.50 held off the next 10 competitors until Riesch completed her run just 0.04 seconds faster than the American.
A number of the competitors struggled to navigate sections of the course and that disorentation was compounded by an extensive shade. Some opted to concede without even completing the course.
Canadian Emily Brydon endured a severe impact into the ground, sustaining a possible injury. The crash was yet another suffered by Canada's squad of skiers.
Despite an inexplicable lapse in concentration at the start, Austrian Elizabeth Goegl remarkably regained her composure to record a time of 1.21.14—0.32 seconds faster than Riesch.
Vonn, who maintained an infectious positivity after a frustrating crash in the combined, orchestrated a typically functional run to immediately supplant Goegl with a time of 1.20.88.
That performance by Vonn was, however, sensationally eclipsed by Austrian Andrea Fischbacher, who had narrowly missed out on bronze in the downhill.
With a time of 1.20.14—0.74 faster than Vonn—Fischbacher reclaimed first place for Austria. The conduct of the country's female skiers has gone some way to atoning for the dismal performances of their male counterparts, who have bewilderingly yet to medal on the piste.
Vonn then dropped to third after an absorbing run by Slovenia's Tina Maze. Some 31 skiers followed Maze, but it was inconceivable that they would be able to imprint themselves on the event and do anything other than go through the motions.
With the final attempt by Kazahkstan's Lyudmila Fedotova, it became official that gold was Fischbacher's. She became the first of Austria's struggling contingent of skiers to take gold at Whistler.
At the Whistler Olympic Park, the ski jumpers resumed the medal competition after a hiatus of seven days (qualifiying for some occurred on the 19th), vying for a place on the podium in the long hill individual discipline.
The jumping machine, Switzerland's Simon Ammann, was again favored to take his second gold of the 2010 Games. He was the first athlete to receive one in this Olympics, in the normal hill variant.
He thrived in the first round, achieving an incredible jump of 144.0 metres for a score of 144.7. In the final round, Japan's elder statesman, Kazai Noriaki, kept first place warm for 10 jumps until displaced by Czech Antonin Hajek.
The lead inevitably entered a state of flux while the densely congested crowd eagerly awaited the appearance of the compelling Simon Ammann.
Before Whistler's spectacular scenery, Ammann again demonstrated his incomparable ability, generating an outstanding jump of 138.9 metres and a points total of 283.6.
Poland's Simon Malysz earned silver with a jump of 131.3 metres, while Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer took bronze.
The result, curiously, was an identical repeat of the normal hill discipline. Ammann has now become the first long jumper to take gold in both events at two successive Olympics, and is now Switzerland's most decorated athlete.
Cross Country Skiing
In the 30 km pursuit, 64 competitors took to the course at the Whistler Olympic Park. Like a marathon, the competitors remained clustered together for some time until it seemed that Lukas Bauer was attempting to engineer their fragmentation.
Baur maintained a lead for the majority of the event's classic phase, but was overtaken during the transition to the "freestyle." It was in the freestyle stage that the race's momentum began to intensify.
Sweden's Johan Olsson immediately asserted himself, aggressively establishing a considerable lead that he continued to extend after the hour threshold. His decisive audacity consolidated his lead, as if he were impervious to the rigours of such a risky approach.
Those exertions, however, made his lead inherently untenable and it eventually galvanised those trailing him to close the distance. His immense lead was reduced to 16 seconds, then to just five as they closed on the finish line.
Fatigue began to overcome the Swede and he could do nothing to prevent his nearest rivals from overtaking him.
In what was an engrossing end, Olson's teammate Marcus Hellner emerged from the small group that had caught up with Johann to seize gold, just ahead of Germany's Tobias Angerer.
He became the Swede to take gold in the pursuit, while Olsen claimed a deserved bronze. Instead of collapsing in sheer exhaustion as others were understandably beginning to, Olsson chose to congratulate and hug his teammate. It was a first Olympic medal for the 24-year-old Hellner.
There were three speed skating medal events at the Richmond Olympic Oval and Pacific Coliseum. The crowds, again vocally enthuastic, witnessed another day of exceptional skating.
In the men's 1500m, the Nethderlands' Mark Tuitert was emphatic on the track, recording a time of 1.45.57 that American favourite, Shani Davis, could not counter.
Norwegian Havard Bokko earned Norway's first speed skating medal since the 2002 Games.
Davis had already taken one gold at the Olympics, becoming the first speed skater to defend his title in the 1000m.
In the 1500m short track, Olympic record holder Wang Meng—who took gold in the 500 metres—crashed out in the semifinal after a collision.
Wang Meng's compatriot, 18-year-old Zhou Yang, took gold in the final with an Olympic record time of 2.16.933. That finish decisively broke a record (2.21.069) set by South Korea's Choi Eun-Kyung at the 2002 Salt Lake Games.
South Korea continued to be well represented on the speed skating podium, with Lee Eun-Byul and Park Seung-Hi claiming silver and bronze, respectively.
In the men's 1000 metres, Ohno was again a favourite for gold but first place was secured by South Korea's Lee Jung-Su. Ohno had attempted to overtake Canada's Hamelin brothers, but in doing so allowed the two South Koreans to surge past the three.
The gold was Lee Jung-Su's second of the Vancouver games, while Lee Ho-Suk's spirited performance earned him his first silver.
In taking bronze, Ohno became the all-time most decorated American Winter Olympian in terms of overall medals, surpassing retired speed skater Bonnie Blair.
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