Vancouver, British Columbia On a day when Lindsey Vonn crashed and Canada’s pride-and-joy hockey team nearly went down, Evan Lysacek stood up strong.
In the biggest event of his life, Lysacek — the reigning world champion in men’s figure skating — didn’t try the most daring routine, but he hit nearly every move he picked. He knew it, too, repeatedly screaming “Yes!” as his music faded.
“It was definitely my best, and that’s what I came here to do,” Lysacek said.
He earned the highest score of his career, and it held up for the gold medal, topping defending champ Evgeni Plushenko and providing the United States with its first champion in this event since Brian Boitano in 1988. He also gave his coach, the widely respected Frank Carroll, his first gold medalist.
Lysacek’s victory let the United States close Thursday still way ahead in the medals races. Through 34 events, Americans have claimed six golds and 17 overall. Germany is second in both categories, with four and 11.
Vonn wasn’t able to add to the total.
Seeking her second gold medal in as many days, she led the super-combined after the downhill portion, then failed to slip a ski inside a gate during her slalom run and wound up tumbling down the snow.
A bruised right shin that was “killing me” wasn’t to blame. She just made a common mistake trying to catch up to her best friend Maria Riesch of Germany and teammate Julia Mancuso.
“I was disappointed, but I went down fighting,” Vonn said. “I had to give it everything I had.”
Mancuso became the first American woman to win a medal in women’s combined or super-combined since Gretchen Fraser got silver at the 1948 St. Moritz Games. She also became the first U.S. woman with three Olympic medals in Alpine skiing, matching Bode Miller for the most Alpine medals by an American.
The biggest drama that played out Tuesday involved Canada’s men’s hockey team.
A squad of NHL greats supposed to win gold in a sport that means about as much to Canadians as football, baseball and basketball combined mean to Americans let a two-goal lead dissolve into a tie with Switzerland. It stayed that way after regulation, after overtime and after three rounds of a shootout. Then Sidney Crosby scored and the entire host country exhaled.
A loss would’ve been more humiliating than damaging to Canada’s chances of winning the Olympic tournament. Still, this was way-too-close of a call.
Other noteworthy events Thursday:
• Two gold medals for women named Tora/Torah: Tora Berger’s victory was part of a sweep of biathlon events by Norwegians. Hers also gave Norway the nifty milestone of being first nation with 100 Winter Olympics gold medals. Torah Bright became the 2010 champ in women’s halfpipe by beating the last two gold medalists, both Americans — ’06 champ Hannah Teter (silver) and ’02 champ Kelly Clark (bronze).
• The U.S. men’s and women’s hockey teams remained undefeated, with Summer Olympics golden boy Michael Phelps cheering the guys from the stands.
• The U.S. men’s and women’s curling squads remained winless.