Published February 19, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Two races, two medals. Bode Miller is putting together one heck of a Vancouver Olympics.
Miller picked up a silver in the super-G Friday to go with the bronze he won in the downhill.
Andrew Weibrecht surprisingly finished right behind Miller, plopping another medal onto the United States' growing pile.
The U.S. Alpine team already has won six medals, their most ever, and we're not even halfway done in the mountains.
"Our kids love to compete in the big show," said Bill Marolt, head of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Overall, the U.S. delegation has won 20 medals, nearly matching its total from Turin (25). With 52 events left, the Americans are charging toward their record of 34 medals won at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.
"Part of it might be that we are on North American soil," said Weibrecht, who'd never finished higher than 10th in a World Cup race. "(We) get better results when we're at home, or close to home, better food and lodgings."
With six gold, six silver and eight bronze, the Americans have practically lapped the field. Germany is second in overall medals with 13.
Norway has the second-most golds with five, boosted by victories in the first two events decided Friday. Aksel Lund Svindal won the super-G and Marit Bjoergen won the women's 15-kilometer pursuit. Bjoergen also became the first winner of multiple gold medals in Vancouver and the first with three medals.
Amy Williams won the women's skeleton to give Britain an individual gold medalist at the Winter Games for the first time since figure skater Robin Cousins at Lake Placid in 1980. The gold held up after she survived a protest from Canada over her aerodynamic helmet — the second such complaint in as many days.
In nonmedal action, the winless U.S. men's and women's curling teams responded to the arrival of their honorary captain — San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis — by winning for the first time, and a halfpipe medalist headed home sooner than he'd planned.
Scotty Lago volunteered to leave the Olympics after risque pictures of him wearing a Team USA T-shirt and his bronze medal showed up on the Internet. The U.S. Olympics Committee puts athletes through a program to avoid such situations. Lago apologized to the USOC and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Saturday could be another big day for the Americans with Apolo Anton Ohno, Shani Davis and Lindsey Vonn all in action.
Vonn stayed off her skis Friday to give her bruised right shin more time to heal and it "definitely helped," according to her husband, Thomas.
When Miller took bronze in the downhill, he was all smiles at the end of the race. He looked worn out this time.
Miller let out a big breath of air and quickly shook his head. Then he leaned forward, resting his helmet on forearms still locked atop his poles. Once his lungs stopped burning, he took out his mouthpiece and gave a little fist pump.
"I was lucky today," he said. "I could just as easily been fifth or sixth."
With his fourth career medal, Miller regained the title of most decorated American Alpine skier, a day after Julia Mancuso tied him for that honor. (The title could keep changing hands with the men's super combined and slalom still to come; Mancuso has two events left and Lindsey Vonn has three.) Also, this is the first time two American men got medals in the same Alpine event since brothers Phil and Steve Mahre went 1-2 in slalom at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.
Weibrecht found himself in first place after his run, something that had never happened before. He said he "refused to believe until the race was over that I was in with a medal."
"I've been knocking on the door all year," Weibrecht said. "To come out here and do it just feels unbelievable."
Svindal made it four golds for Norwegians in the seven times this race has been part of the Olympic program.
The race was marred by more horrific wipeouts. The most serious left 40-year-old Patrik Jaerbyn with a concussion and bloody face. The Swedish team physician said Jaerbyn was spending the night in the hospital.
While the cheers from Davis were nice, the difference-maker for the men's team may have been a change in skips (team captain).
After an 0-4 start, out went 2006 bronze medalist John Shuster and in came alternate Chris Plys, with vice skip Jason Smith throwing the last rock. The result was a 4-3 victory over France, which came in with only one win.
The women were 0-3 until skip Debbie McCormick bumped out a Russian stone with her last rock, giving the U.S. a 6-4 victory — its first after an 0-3 start that had put her stewardship in jeopardy, too.
Americans were oh-so-close to a pair of medals.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, the 2007 world champion, finished fourth in the women's event, just 0.10 seconds from bronze.
Zach Lund, who was kicked out of the last Olympics because a banned substance was in a hair-restoration product he took, was fifth, 0.52 from a medal.
The Czech Republic and Sweden joined the United States as the only 2-0 teams so far.
Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec helped the Czechs take a 3-0 lead over Latvia before even allowing a shot, then rode the big start to a 5-2 victory.
The Swedes also led 3-0, facing a Belarus team that upset them four years ago. Belarus got within a goal with 5:10 remaining, but Sweden held off, even getting another goal with 10.4 seconds left to make the final score 4-2.
"I think we got a little scared in the end," said Swedish forward Peter Forsberg, a holdover from 2002.
World champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia won the compulsory portion of ice dance, the first of three legs of the event. The original dance will be Sunday and free dance Monday night.
Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are second and two-time American champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are third, just ahead of fellow Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, the 2006 silver medalists.
Two Swiss competitors have withdrawn from events following scary crashes, including a strong medal contender.
Swiss driver Daniel Schmid, who was not a medal favorite, pulled out of the two-man and four-man bob for "safety reasons" after two practice crashes. On Friday, his sled overturned during training and his brakeman was taken from the track in an ambulance, then flown to Vancouver for observation. A team doctor said there were no serious injuries.
Beat Hefti, a World Cup champion, withdrew from two-man because of a concussion in a crash Wednesday. He hasn't decided whether to race in the four-man, which starts next Friday.
Normal hill winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland can keep using the modified bindings that anchor his boots to his skis.
He can keep his gold medal, too.
The International Ski Federation dismissed complaints by the Austrians that Ammann was breaking the rules, and gave him permission to stick with the equipment for Saturday's large hill event.
Having already won two halfpipe gold medals, Shaun White would love the chance to double his collection at the 2014 Olympics.
White said he'd consider competing in halfpipe and slopestyle if that event was added to the mix for the Sochi Games.
In slopestyle, riders do huge tricks while going down the mountain and through "features" — rails, big jumps and bumps. At ski resorts, slopestyle is widely thought of as an easier way for amateur snowboarders to do cool tricks than on a halfpipe.
White likes the idea of being in the spotlight a little longer. Odds are NBC would like to have him around more, too.
"It's a strange thing going to the Olympics, where so many people have four, five events and we just have the one big night," he said.
On his first day as an Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek said he's not even thinking about retirement.
Defending his world championship next month in Turin? Well, that's still to be determined.
The 24-year-old American also said he was a "little disappointed" his long program was criticized by silver medalist and reigning champion Evgeni Plushenko. He added that Plushenko congratulated him with "a strong handshake."
Bjoergen pulled away midway through the freestyle portion of the race and was never threatened the rest of the way.
Anna Haag of Sweden won a three-way sprint for the silver, with favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland getting bronze in a photo finish.
Morgan Arritola was the top American, finishing 38th.
Also, Slovenia's Petra Majdic is done for a while. Doctors discovered four broken ribs and a collapsed lung, all sustained before winning the bronze in the individual classical sprint. She was among the favorites for the 30K classical race.
Yes, even at the Olympics, folks took a break to watch Tiger Woods talk Friday.
Snowboarder Shaun White says people will soon realize Woods made mistakes but isn't such a bad guy. Figure skater Evan Lysacek thinks Woods' remarks offer a teaching moment on how to handle one's self. Skier Julia Mancuso questioned his sincerity on Twitter: "come on Tiger! give us some reality here."
Bidding for the ultimate Vancouver Olympics souvenir — the site of the Alpine events, and other assets of resort operator Intrawest — has been delayed until next Friday.
The auction was supposed to be Friday. But creditors pushed it back, hoping to reach a last minute deal. Creditors are trying to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the company's owner, New York hedge fund Fortress.