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Archive for Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canada drops ‘Own the Podium’ quest

February 23, 2010

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— A full day later, the U.S. hockey victory over Canada was still reverberating at the Vancouver Olympics.

The fallout started Monday morning, with the head of Canada’s Olympic committee conceding that his country’s $117 million, five-year plan to “Own the Podium” — translation: win the medals race — wasn’t going to pan out.

It wasn’t a direct result of the hockey game. Still, the timing makes you wonder.

“We’d be living in a fool’s paradise if we said we were going to catch the Americans and win,” COC head Chris Rudge said.

In the afternoon, Canada hockey coach Mike Babcock answered the question everyone across the country was asking by declaring that he was benching goaltender Martin Brodeur and starting Roberto Luongo for today’s win-or-else game against Germany.

“We’re in the winning business, and to win in any game, at any level, you need big saves,” Babcock said. “We’re looking for Lu to do that.”

Other events drew significance from the U.S.-Canada hockey game. For instance, Canada’s men’s curling team beat the Americans, 5-3, eliminating them from the tournament, then one of the Canadian curlers called it “some redemption for the hockey team.”

And there were the expected victories from the U.S. and Canadian women’s hockey teams, setting up a showdown in the gold-medal game Thursday.

Women’s Hockey

What a day to remember for U.S. coach Mark Johnson: He celebrated the anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice,” in which he scored two goals, and saw his team avenge its 2006 Olympic shootout loss to Sweden with a 9-1 victory.

Curling

Skip John Shuster’s team got an early lead over Canada, but wound up losing, 7-2, in a shortened match. The Americans fell to 2-6 going into their finale Monday night against China.

Cross Country

Both team sprints — a freestyle event with two skiers taking turns going three laps — were decided in dashes to the finish.

Norway’s Petter Northug did it in the men’s event, pulling away from Germany’s Axel Teichmann. Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad —the reigning world champion in the individual and team sprints, and winner of the last two World Cup sprint titles — pulled out because of a sore throat.

Americans Torin Koos and Andy Newell were ninth.

Ski Jumping

On his final jump in the team event, 20-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer soared farther than anyone else in these Winter Games to wrap up the gold for Austria. This was his third medal; he won bronze in both individual events.

Bobsled

More changes are coming to the Whistler Sliding Center, this time to shave the ice in several tricky curves in hopes of making the track easier for bobsledders to navigate.

Changes came after a two sleds crashed during supplemental training, which many nations chose to skip, opting for rest instead.

The women’s event is today and Wednesday.

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