2010 Winter Olympics: The 10 Most Interesting Things We Learned-Day 15
Friday, Feb. 26 or Day 15 of the 2010 Winter Olympics was an eventful one to say the least.
-- Canada improved their medal count and are rallying around their "Own the Podium" phrase
-- Apollo Ohno rebounds from a DQ to win a medal
-- Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen keeps Norway quietly in the hunt for the medal count lead
-- Wicked speeds spell trouble for Bobsledders in Whistler
-- Vonn doesn't advance in the Slalom; Germany takes the gold
-- Sauerbreij wins first Dutch Olympic snowboard gold
-- Canadian women blow curling lead, lose gold to Sweden
-- Monumental hockey rematch set for final day of Olympics
Updated Medal Count
The U.S. kept their distance atop the medal standings, with two wins in speed skating.
But the biggest story today was Canada winning four: three in speed skating (two golds) and a silver in curling. They just edged Norway for third in the medal count.
Austria won three today, taking one at all three mountain medal events.
Korea also took three medals home from the three different speed skating competitions.
Four countries now have over 20 medals, and there are now only two days left in the competition.
Apolo Ohno shows the world he's not done
Ohno anchored the U.S. men's speed skating relay team to a bronze medal, his third of this year's competition and the eighth of his career.
This makes him America's most decorated Winter Olympian in history.
Remarkably, this feat was achieved on the same day as he was disqualified from the 500-meter short track event.
Speculation is that this could be Ohno's last Olympics, as there is not much left for this Olympian to achieve short of trying to take down Michael Phelps.
Norway takes mens biathalon relay; Bjoerndalen continues to impress
Norway took home the gold in the men's 4x7.5 km relay today, which meant a sixth gold medal for him and his eleventh overall.
Norway posted an impressive time on the Whistler park, which was experiencing heavy snowfall, of one hour, 21 minutes, 38.1.
Even more impressive, Bjoerndalen knocked down all 10 of his targets.
I was in Whistler today, and the snow was very thick at many points.
He said he's not done, as he'll be back for the 2014 games in Sochi, when he'll be 40.
Bobsled track in Whistler: FAST
I spent the day in Whister at the first two heats of the men's four-man Bobsleigh runs.
Amidst a steady downfall of thick snow, racers took to the track for the first day of the four-man event.
Six sleds crashed at the infamous "50/50" turn, so named for each sled's odds of making it out of the turn upright.
The U.S. team, led by Steve Holcomb, posted the fastest run of the day.
The medal event tomorrow will be very interesting, as teams push it to the limit to come home with a prize.
Let's hope we have no more tragedies at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Alpine Skiing: Riesch rises after Vonn falls
OK, Lindsey Vonn didn't fall at the Ladies Slalom event, but she did fail to finish her first run because of a missed gate.
Her best friend, Maria Riesch, rose to the occasion and took home the gold, her second of these Olympics.
Vonn wasted no time in congratulating her friend. "Awesome," Vonn said. "I'm so proud of you."
Netherlands wins first Snowboarding gold medal
Nicolien Sauerbreij toughed through awful snow conditions and triumphed on Friday, winning the first ever Dutch gold in snowboarding.
The rainy weather was such a problem that the top layer was mostly slush, to the point that squeegees were needed by track officials to help get rid of some of the moisture.
Even some of the athletes were seen with umbrellas on the lifts to the top of the track.
This has been a big story in Vancouver, as the weather here rarely gets cold enough to snow. It certainly hasn't this February.
Course conditions have been fine until rain starts coming down.
Let's hope the weather is better for the men tomorrow.
Canada women blow it in curling
Famed Canadian curler Cheryl Bernard was set up to preserve a 6-4 lead in the 10th end of the women's curling gold medal match Friday night but was unable to deliver as she has done all tournament.
The Swedes came back to tie it in the 10th and win it in the 11th end after multiple miscues from Bernard.
Credit is due to Anette Norberg, who played fantastically in the clutch moments of the match and essentially stole it for the Swedes.
Sweden had been on Canada's heels all tournament and actually led the match by a score of 4-2 before losing the lead and then tying in the 10th end.
The Canadian men look to keep their undefeated record in tomorrow's gold medal game against Norway tomorrow.
U.S. prove they can score in pummeling, advance to gold medal game
Only 2:04 into the men's semi-final hockey game between U.S.A. and Finland, Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff questioned himself, "Why?"
Kipper made a soft play on a puck that ended up on Ryan Malone's stick and into the back of the net.
Then the onslaught began.
The U.S. team scored five more goals in the first period, but not after chasing Kiprusoff after the fourth goal.
The win was huge for Team USA for a number of reasons:
-- Patrick Kane got on the scoreboard twice as many times as he had all tournament: two.
-- Ryan Miller finally got a break, as Tim Thomas took over midway through the third period.
-- The quarterfinal game versus Switzerland was a nail-biter, as the Americans were only able to knock home one non-empty net goal.
This game will give Team USA the confidence they need to take on the talent-laden Canadians, as well as their raucous home crowd.
Canada holds on to edge Slovakia; questions loom
The semifinal men's hockey game between Canada and Slovakia was played in the form of an hour glass:
Canada controlled the beginning of the game and then let off the gas in the middle; Slovakia starting to play in the second period and then poured it on at the end.
Slovakia was able to use their speedy forwards and accurate passing to get the game, which was 3-0 after the first and looked like it was getting out of hand, back to a close game by scoring two goals in the third period.
Those goals were followed by a relentless attacked that somehow seemed inevitable that they would tie it.
They had their chances.
Pavol Demitra had a beauty of a chance in the remaining moments that somehow sailed wide past the net. Replays may show Luongo getting a piece of the puck, but it was inconclusive.
Luongo was terrific all game, and Team Canada will have to question their game plan against the U.S.
SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!
The fact that both the United States and Canada won their respective hockey games today is nothing short of historic.
The U.S. team came into the tournament as possible medal contenders, while the Canadians were the favorites to win the gold at home.
After events have unfolded in the tournament, looking at the standings and scoresheets would flip that statement on its head.
The U.S. team was first seed out of pool play, the only undefeated team in the semifinals, and even defeated Canada during pool play.
But hockey fans know that with the home crowd, and with an unmatched roster of talent in the tournament, Canada is definitely the favorite to win the gold on Sunday.
At this point, the U.S. team could be happy to take home a silver medal, as many would have said they would be lucky to walk away with the bronze prior to the start of the Olympics.
But I have no doubt that if any of the players or staff were asked that question, they would be borderline devastated with a sliver, especially since they have already beaten Canada once and the pressure is still on the home team.
For the U.S. to win:
-- Ryan Miller has to continue his stellar play and outplay Canada goalie Roberto Luongo.
-- All lines have to continue their relentless forechecking and shotblocking.
-- All lines have to contribute to the scoresheet.
-- The defense has to realize that it cannot focus on one player or one line; all players and lines are dangers for Canada.
For Canada to win:
-- Sidney Crosby must bury at least one.
-- Canada has to keep up the hitting and be prepared to take some hits.
-- They must be prepared to get past the hard forechecking forwards of the U.S. at both ends of the ice.
-- Luongo must make a few spectacular saves and play consistently excellent.
-- The crowd has to stay in it. If they do, and they win, the streets will be twice as rowdy as they were tonight, pictured above.
I've never been more sure of any statement:
Anything is possible.