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Archive for Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mancuso breaks U.S. slump

Californian earns first women’s skiing gold since 1998

February 25, 2006

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— Julia Mancuso, the American from aptly named Olympic Valley, Calif., captured gold with a stunning victory in the giant slalom Friday that salvaged a disappointing Olympics for the U.S. women.

The 21-year-old Mancuso, known for wearing a tiara in slalom races, gave the American women their first Olympic medal since Picabo Street earned gold in the super-G at the 1998 Nagano Games.

With two strong runs in snowy, foggy weather, Mancuso had a combined time of 2 minutes, 9.19 seconds, .67 seconds faster than silver medalist Tanja Poutiainen of Finland. With a big second run, Anna Ottosson of Sweden took the bronze, 1.14 seconds behind Mancuso.

Mancuso's medal was the second for the Americans in Alpine skiing, both gold. Ted Ligety won the men's combined last week.

Cross country skiing

Women's 30km

Pragelato, Italy - Katerina Neumannova surprised the two skiers ahead of her with a powerful surge through the final stretch, and the Czech Republic won its first gold medal of the Turin Games.

Just when it appeared favorite Julija Tchepalova and Justyna Kowalczyk would fight until the finish for the top medal in the 30km, Neumannova double-poled past them on the right side to add a gold to the silver she won in the 15km pursuit on the first day of action. She collapsed across the finish and raised her arms in triumph while still on the ground.

She eventually got up, then quickly hoisted her young daughter into her arms. Neumannova crossed in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 25.4 seconds to edge silver medalist Tchepalova by 1.4 seconds on the final day of women's Olympic cross-country competition.

Tchepalova, the Russian star and leader for most of the race, earned her second medal of these games after taking gold in the 4x5km relay Saturday. She won this race at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and might have done so again had it not been for a fall while climbing a hill in the final 10 kilometers.

Kowalczyk, who appeared headed for victory when she entered the stadium, took the bronze for Poland's first medal.

Curling

Men's

Pinerolo, Italy - The Canadians, silver medalists in 1998 and 2002, left little doubt this time around, routing Finland to win their first gold medal.

Canada has won 29 world championships in curling, the country's second-most popular sport behind hockey. But the Canadians lost to Switzerland in the gold medal match in Nagano, then fell to Norway in Salt Lake City.

The United States earned its share of curling glory - its first medal ever in the sport - thanks to an American who knows how to slice it.

The American men won the bronze by beating Britain in the consolation game, jumping to an early lead and then clinching the victory with a simple draw to the middle of the target in the final end. That put the United States on the medal stand along with more traditional curling powers Finland and Canada, who played later Friday for the championship.

Canada's Russ Howard, who turned 50 on Sunday, became the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist. American bobsledder Jay O'Brien was 48 years, 357 days old when he won at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid.

Speedskating

Julia Mancuso of the United States celebrates after winning gold during the flower ceremony for the Women's Giant Slalom at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy, Friday, Feb. 24, 2006.

Julia Mancuso of the United States celebrates after winning gold during the flower ceremony for the Women's Giant Slalom at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy, Friday, Feb. 24, 2006.

Men's 10,000 meters

Turin, Italy - Bob de Jong of the Netherlands bounced back from a miserable performance at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games to win a surprising gold in the 10,000 meters, the final men's speedskating event of these games.

American Chad Hedrick, the world record holder, finished second to complete his set: one gold, one silver and one bronze. Another Dutch skater, Carl Verheijen, took the bronze.

Ice Hockey

Men's

Turin, Italy - It's an all-Nordic final for gold in men's hockey: Sweden versus Finland.

Peter Forsberg set up a goal 34 seconds into the game and Sweden was on its way to a rout of the Czech Republic. Not too shabby for Forsberg, the Philadelphia Flyers star who was doubtful for the Olympics.

Much like the Swedes did against the Czechs by scoring on their first shot, Finland seized the momentum early on Peltonen's goal at 6:13 of the first and never let go. With a trapping-style defense, they refused to let Russia's fleet forwards get the time or space to create the numerous odd-man rushes they enjoyed in beating Canada 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

Bobsled

Men's Four-Man

Cesana, Italy - Todd Hays, who won the U.S. bobsled team's first Olympic medal in 46 years at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, said Friday that he would retire following his final two slides at the Turin Games today.

Hays had a disappointing outing Friday, completing his two runs in 1 minute, 50.99 seconds and is .49 seconds - a sliding eternity - behind Germany's Andre Lange, the gold medalist in two-man, who has found an icy groove on a course with high-banking curves and head-rattling chicanes.

"Tomorrow will be my last two bobsled runs, and you'll see every ounce of energy that I have in this sport," said Hays, in seventh after his first two runs. "Unfortunately, it didn't go as I'd hoped, but fortunately I know there's a lot worse things in life than not finishing the Olympic Games with a medal.

"I've got to try to do a lot better job for my teammates."

Unless Hays can find some speed Saturday, the 36-year-old will leave Italy without a medal after arriving as a favorite in two events.

The course proved treacherous for some. Brazil's four-man bobsled team appeared to be uninjured after crashing and sliding through several curves upside down on its opening trip. The next-to-last sled on the first run, the Brazilians tipped on their side near the bottom of the 19-curve course and driver Ricardo Raschini was unable to get Brazil-1 back on its front runners.

Brazil is the only tropical nation in the two-day competition.

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