By Larry Fine
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Anna Friesinger-Postma swam across the finish line in the nick of time after a tragic-comic fall on the ice and put Germany into the gold medal final of the women's speedskating team pursuit on Saturday.
Friesinger-Postma, a four-times Olympic medalist, lost her balance coming around the last curve of the three-skater, 2,400m race against the United States and then fell to the ice when her legs gave out.
Desperate to get to the finish line since the team's last skater to cross determines the time, she began clawing at the ice to propel herself and looked more like a swimmer doing the breaststroke.
She rotated as well, since the clock stops when the skate crosses the line.
The German slid another 20 meters past the line pounding the ice in disgust, and then covered her face in her hands, certain she had cost her team a gold medal chance.
Finally, when Friesinger-Postma looked up and saw the scoreboard show Germany had beaten the Americans by .23 of a second, her sorrowful face lit up with joy and she thrust her arm up in shocked celebration.
Germany will skate against Japan in the final.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)