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Archive for Saturday, February 16, 2002

U.S. medal count hits 14

Snowboarder Klug sets American record with bronze

February 16, 2002

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— The Americans took three more medals at the Winter Olympics on Friday and have already enjoyed their best medal showing ever.

The Americans rolled a lucky 7 as in seven straight days of collecting at least one medal as they again exploited the home field advantage they held for the first time since Lake Placid in 1980.

SNOWBOARDER Chris Klug carries the American flag after winning the
bronze medal in the giant slalom. Klug's third-place finish Friday
in Salt Lake City brought the U.S. medal count for the Games to 14.

SNOWBOARDER Chris Klug carries the American flag after winning the bronze medal in the giant slalom. Klug's third-place finish Friday in Salt Lake City brought the U.S. medal count for the Games to 14.

"I got the bronze here in front of all my friends and family and all the American people," said snowboarder Chris Klug, bronze medalist in the parallel giant slalom. "They're awesome."

Klug's medal was the 14th earned by the Americans in the first week of competition, one more than its previous Winter Games best set eight years ago in Lillehammer, Norway, and equaled in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

In the luge doubles, the U.S. team swept to a silver and a bronze equaling their previous best effort, and giving Chris Thorpe his second medal in as many Olympics.

Germany remained atop the top of the medals chart with 16 (5 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze). The Americans were second with 14 (3-6-5), followed by the 10 medals of Norway (5-5-0) and Austria (1-2-7).

Nineteen months ago, Klug was a liver transplant patient. On Friday, he was an Olympic medalist.

"It's a miracle," Klug said after taking the bronze medal in the giant slalom. "I'm so lucky to be here today. And for it to have turned out like this is pretty special."

Philipp Schoch of Switzerland, the second-slowest rider in qualifying Thursday, won the gold, defeating Sweden's Richard Richardsson, who took silver.

After winning his bronze, Klug hit his fist against his heart, then pointed over to his father, his girlfriend and the dozens of other overwhelmed friends and family who came to see him.

Luge: For the second straight Olympics, the American luge teams finished 2-3 just missing out on an elusive gold. The Americans have never won a luge gold in either singles or doubles.

That didn't matter to the silver medal team of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin, who made up for a poor first run to wind up in second. They were followed by Chris Thorpe and Clay Ives, who won the bronze and immediately announced their retirement.

"It is our last race," said Thorpe, a four-time Olympian who became only the second slider to win Olympic medals with different partners. He won at Nagano with Gordie Sheer, who retired two years ago.

The gold went to Olympic rookies Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch of Germany. Since luge was added to the Winter Olympics in 1964, the Germans have won nine of the 11 doubles gold medals.

Men's hockey: The NHL has arrived in Salt Lake City although the Canadians apparently weren't ready to play yet.

The Canadian team, with executive director Wayne Gretzky watching in dismay, were walloped 5-2 by Sweden as a shaky Curtis Joseph allowed four goals in the second period an inauspicious start for a team seeking its first gold medal since 1952.

The Russians, led by a goal and an assist from NHL star Sergei Fedorov, beat Belarus 6-4. All but one of the Russians play in the NHL; Belarus is the only remaining team with no NHL forwards in its lineup.

The defending gold medalists, the Czech Republic, relied on Jaromir Jagr and goalie Dominik Hasek in an easy 8-2 victory over Germany. Jagr has two goals and two assists.

The United States debuted against Finland later Friday.

Cross-country skiing: Russian Larissa Lazutina won a silver medal in the women's cross-country pursuit, bringing her overall Winter Games total to 9 just one short of a Winter Olympic record held by former Soviet cross-country skier Raisa Smetanina.

The gold went to surprise winner Olga Danilova of Russia, while the bronze went to Canadian Beckie Scott.

Figure skating: The first part of the ice dancing competition came off without so much as the threat of a lawsuit, with the favorites Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France in first place.

Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh of Russia were second, with reigning world champions Barbara Fusar Poli and Mauricio Margaglio of Italy in third.

Four-time U.S. champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev were tied for 11th after the two compulsories, worth a total 20 percent of the final score. The other Americans, Beata Handra and Charles Sinek, were 20th.

Curling: The U.S. men's curling team beat winless France 8-3 on Friday, keeping the Americans in contention at the Olympic tournament with a 3-3 record.

In other games, Finland beat Britain 6-4, Canada beat Germany 9-7 and Norway beat Denmark 9-4. The Canadians lead the men's tournament at 5-1 while Norway is 4-1.

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