Olympic Daily News - Friday, February 14th
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sandro Viletta became the first Swiss skier in Olympic history to win gold in the super-combined competition Friday, while defending gold medalist Bode Miller finished in sixth.
Viletta raced through the downhill portion of the competition in 1 minute, 54.88 seconds, 1.64 seconds slower than the leader, Norway's Kjetil Jansrud.
The 28-year-old Swiss skier than traversed the tricky slalom section of the event in 50.32 seconds, giving him a total time of 2:45.20, which no other skier was able to match.
Viletta took home his first Olympic medal and gave Switzerland its best result in the combined in Olympic history. The previous best Swiss finish in Olympic combined was silver by Karl Molitor in St. Moritz in 1948.
Miller, who stumbled to an eighth-place finish in Sunday's downhill competition, missed out on his second shot at a medal in Sochi, finishing sixth with a total time of 2:46.60. He had the 12th-best downhill run and the seventh-best slalom time.
Croatia's Ivica Kostelic claimed his third straight silver medal in the combined, turning in a total time of 2:45.54 to secure his fourth Olympic medal -- all silver.
Italian Christof Innerhofer followed up his silver medal in Sunday's downhill by grabbing the bronze in the super combined with a total time of 2:45.67.
Despite posting the top time in the downhill portion of the event, Jansrud struggled in the slushy snow during his slalom run and finished fourth.
American Ted Ligety, the reigning super combined world champion and 2006 gold medalist in this event, made his Sochi debut Friday, finishing 12th behind compatriot Jared Goldberg.
Morgan Pridy, the lone Canadian in the competition, finished in 20th.
Eleven skiers did not finish the race after crashing on the slalom course.
HANYU BEATS CHAN FOR MEN'S FIGURE SKATING GOLD
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Neither man was perfect, but Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu edged three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada for gold in men's figure skating at the Sochi Olympics.
Hanyu won the short program Thursday with a record score of 101.45, leading Chan by just under four points. Despite mistakes from both on Friday, Hanyu managed to also win the free skate to give Japan its first gold medal in the men's competition.
Canada has still never won gold in men's figure skating. Chan became the third silver medal winner in the nation's history, following Elvis Stojko (1994, '98) and Brian Orser (1984, '88). Orser just happens to be Hanyu's coach.
Kazakhstan's Denis Ten won bronze with a brilliant effort. He had been ninth after the short program and had one of the few clean skates of the night.
American Jason Brown was sixth after the short program and was the last skater to take the ice Friday. He had a chance to win a medal, but a stumble early in his routine left him 11th in the free skate and ninth overall.
Ten was in the second-to-last group and set the bar with a sensational effort that netted him a free skate score of 171.04 and a two-night total of 255.10.
There were still six skaters in the last group and only two managed to top Ten's score.
Spain's Javier Fernandez was first in the last group and was in bronze medal position after the short program, but he did not thrill the judges on Friday. His score of 166.94 was fifth-best and dropped him directly behind Ten, where he eventually finished.
It was basically a two-man competition for gold between Hanyu and Chan.
Hanyu was the first of the two to take the ice for the free skate and he fell on his opening quad jump. A second mistake occurred moments later when his hands touched the ice while completing a triple-flip.
Still, his artistry and other technical elements enabled him to finish with a score of 178.64 and a total of 280.09. It still left the door open for Chan, who was next on the ice.
After opening with a perfect quad-toe, triple-toe combination, Chan touched the ice while landing each of his next two jumps -- a quad and a triple-lutz. He also had a couple of other wobbles during his program and earned a score of 178.10 to finish at 275.62.
At age 19, Hanyu became the second-youngest Olympic men's figure skating champion. American Dick Button was 18 in 1948 when he won the first of his two gold medals.
The only man in the field with a previous Olympic medal, Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, finished sixth. He won bronze four years ago in Vancouver for Japan's first Olympic men's figure skating medal.
American Jeremy Abbott finished 12th after a personal best of 160.12 in the free skate. He performed brilliantly on Friday after a nasty fall in his short program left him 15th.
YARNOLD TAKES GOLD, PIKUS-PACE NABS SILVER IN WOMEN'S SKELETON
Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold claimed gold in the women's skeleton at the Sochi Olympics on Friday, while American Noelle Pikus-Pace took home silver.
It was a dominating performance at the Sanki Sliding Center by Yarnold, who set two track records during the Games and won all four heats in the event. That earned the 25-year-old her first Olympic medal with a total time 3 minutes, 52.89 seconds.
The 31-year-old Pikus-Pace also won her first Olympic medal after finishing fourth at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. She posted a total time of 3:53.86, 0.97 seconds back of Yarnold.
Katie Uhlaender was hoping to join her fellow American on the medal podium and finished with a total time of 3:54.34. However, that was 0.04 ticks behind Russian Elena Nikitina for the bronze.
Pikus-Pace, the silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships, was the second-to-last racer and tweeted a picture shortly before her final run of a piece of paper that read "This is it. Don't get scared now."
She then came out and finished with a time of 58.28 seconds to secure at least the silver medal and celebrated by jumping into the crowd to embrace her family.
It was a long-time coming for Pikus-Pace, who retired following the 2010 Games before making a comeback to participate in Sochi.
Any thoughts of gold were dashed when Yarnold clocked in at 58.09 in her fourth run, again getting the better of her American opponent.
Yarnold won the 2013-14 Skeleton World Cup over Pikus-Pace, a mother of two who again plans to retire and will do so with a medal.
Yarnold had the best time (1:56.89) following the first two runs on Thursday, including an opening-heat time of 58.43 seconds that set a track record. She bested that mark in her first run on Friday, coming in at 57.91 seconds. That was .22 seconds faster than any other slider in the third heat and padded her lead over Pikus-Pace to .78 seconds.
Pikus-Pace had the third-fastest time in the third heat at 58.25 seconds, .12 ticks behind Russia's Olga Potylitsina. Uhlaender had a time of 58.41 seconds to fall 1.19 seconds off Yarnold's leading time.
Uhlaender's fourth-run time was 58.35 seconds, the sixth-fastest in the heat. And while Nikitina's last time of 58.53 was only the 12th-fastest, it was enough to just edge past the American, who was sixth at the 2006 Games and 11th four years ago in Vancouver.
TSUPER EARNS GOLD IN WOMEN'S AERIALS, U.S. FAILS TO MEDAL
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - For Alla Tsuper, the fifth time was the charm.
Taking part in her fifth Olympic Games, Tsuper earned her first medal and it was gold as she won the women's aerials event on Friday in Sochi.
The 34-year-old Tsuper topped her previous best Olympic finish of fifth place, which came back at the 1998 Games in Nagano. The lone jumper of the final four to really stick her landing, the veteran from Belarus had a top score of 98.01 in the super final.
Xu Mengtao of China claimed the silver with a score of 83.50, topping Australian and defending gold medalist Lydia Lassila.
Americans Ashley Caldwell and Emily Cook both advanced to the three-jump finals after coming out of qualification earlier in the day, but Caldwell did not make it out of the first run and the 34-year-old Cook was then eliminated in the second final.
Caldwell had the top qualifying score of 101.25, which she posted in the first run. The 20-year-old recently returned to competition following a series of knee injuries, finishing second at the aerials World Cup opener on Dec. 15.
However, a low landing score held her back in the first final.
China was in position for a possible medal sweep when Xu, Li Nina and Cheng Shuang were 1-2-3 during the second final. Cheng was knocked down to fourth when Lassila posted the second-best score of the run and was then eliminated from the super final thanks to Tsuper.
Tsuper went first in the third final and stuck a landing that had a degree of difficulty at 4.050.
Li followed and the back-to-back Olympic silver-medal winner fell hard on her landing. She stayed down on the slope for a few minutes before eventually walking off, posting a score of 46.02.
Looking to claim her second straight gold medal in this event, Lassila also failed to stick her landing, falling backward to finish off a trick that was scored at 4.425 in terms of difficulty, the toughest attempted in the super final. She scored 72.12.
That left Xu to try and unseat Tsuper and though she managed to stay upright after nearly falling on her landing, she finished well behind Tsuper.
Xu finished sixth in Vancouver at the 2010 Games but won the 2013 FIS World Championships after having twice before finished second at the event.
SWISS COLOGNA WINS ANOTHER GOLD
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Swiss cross country skier Dario Cologna easily won the men's 15-kilometer classic race on Friday for his second gold medal of the Sochi Olympics.
Wearing short sleeves on another mild day at the Laura Cross country Ski and Biathlon Center, Cologna beat Sweden's Johan Olsson by 28.5 seconds for his third Olympic gold.
Sweden's Daniel Richardsson finished 10.3 seconds further back.
Cologna won the 15-kilometer race in 2010, when it was run using the freestyle technique, and captured his second Olympic gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon on Sunday.
He finished Friday's race in the slushy snow in 38 minutes, 29.7 seconds.
Olsson won his fifth Olympic medal and Richardsson his second.
Noah Hoffman was the top American finisher in 31st place. Canada's Devon Kershaw was 35th to lead his country.
DOMRACHEVA WINS SECOND BIATHLON GOLD
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Darya Domracheva of Belarus earned her second biathlon gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, capturing the women's 15-kilometer individual event.
Domracheva overcame a missed shot in her second round of shooting to finish in a time of 43 minutes, 19.6 seconds. She won gold in the 10-k pursuit on Tuesday and bettered her bronze medal effort from four years ago in the 15k.
Switzerland's Selina Gasparin was clean throughout her targets and finished second to claim the silver. She was a distant 1 minute, 15.7 seconds behind Domracheva.
Belarus also claimed bronze on Friday, as Nadezhda Skardino took third place for her first Olympic medal. She did not miss a shot and that was the difference.
Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic missed twice -- once in each round while standing -- to incur a pair of one-minute penalties and finished 19.3 seconds out of medal position.
Norway's Tora Berger, the silver medalist in the pursuit and the 2010 Olympic 15k champion, missed three shots overall and finished 16th.
The top American was Hannah Dreissigacker in 23rd place, while Canada's Megan Imrie finished 30th.
CARTER'S HAT TRICK LIFTS CANADA
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Far from dominating in its Winter Olympics opener, Canada got things rolling on Friday against Austria.
Jeff Carter notched a natural hat trick in the second period and Roberto Luongo posted a 23-save shutout in his first appearance in Sochi as Canada rolled past Austria 6-0.
Defenseman Drew Doughty and Shea Weber had first-period goals before Carter's three-goal barrage that spanned just under 12 minutes in the middle frame. Patrick Marleau assisted on all three of Carter's goals and Ryan Getzlaf added a short-handed tally for the defending Olympic champions.
Luongo got the start on Friday, one day after Carey Price posted 19 saves in a 3-1 win over Norway to get Canada started. Doughty and Weber also scored in that victory.
Bernhard Starkbaum got the start for Austria, which was coming off an 8-4 loss to Finland, and yielded all six goals on 31 shots faced through two periods. Mathias Lange relieved him to start the third and stopped all 15 shots fired his way.
Canada will next face Finland on Sunday in a battle of the 2-0 clubs in Group B. Finland on Friday topped Norway, which next faces Austria.
Doughty scored 5:24 into the contest off a draw, flicking a low shot from the right point over the pad of Starkbaum, and Weber followed with 9:48 to go in the period on a slap shot off a drop pass from Corey Perry.
Carter took over in the second period from in close. His first goal came on a whack in the crease 2:39 into the frame and he followed with a wrap-around score just a minute and a half later.
The Los Angeles Kings forward finished off the hat trick with 5:27 on the clock as Marleau banged at a rebound in front before Carter swooped in and lifted the puck into an open net.
Just 17 seconds later, Perry was wrapped up from behind and awarded a penalty shot, but his snap shot went right into the glove of Starkbaum.
Getzlaf finished off the scoring with Jaime Benn serving a four-minute high- sticking penalty. The forward scored a beauty, toe-dragging into the slot before backhanding the puck in.
FINNS CLOBBER NORWAY IN MEN'S HOCKEY
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Lauri Korpikoski scored a pair of goals to lift Finland over Norway, 6-1, in the preliminary round of the men's Olympic hockey tournament.
Olli Jokinen added a goal and an assist for the Finns, who improved to 2-0 in group play and will next face the undefeated Canadians on Sunday for the top spot in Group B. Canada, the defending Olympic champions, defeated Austria, 6-0, on Friday.
Per-Age Skroder scored for Norway, which has lost both of its games and will try to salvage a win on Sunday against Austria.
The Finns took control right away. Teemu Selanne scored on a wrist shot from the slot, beating Norway goaltender Lars Haugen glove-side just 5:46 into the contest. It was his 21st career goal in his six Olympic Games.
Just 1:05 later, Korpikoski gave Finland a 2-0 lead, putting home the rebound of a Jokinen shot.
Jori Lehtera then sent the Finns into the intermission with a 3-0 lead after he carried the puck into the offensive zone and beat Haugen with a wrister from the high slot.
Both Selanne's and Lehtera's shots were unscreened. Haugen was lifted after the first period, but it didn't matter for Norway.
Korpikoski greeted new goaltender Lars Volden with his second goal of the game 8:03 into the second period.
Jokinen then scored on a wrister from the right circle with 8:34 left in the second for a 5-0 cushion.
Norway got on the board early in the third. With a 5-on-3 advantage, Skroder wristed home a shot top shelf just 1:01 into the period to avoid the shutout.
Olli Maata rounded out the scoring, tallying his second goal of the tournament with 2:19 left. He also notched a pair of assists.
Finland's Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves and was credited with two assists as his country has outscored opponents 14-5 through two games.
SWEDEN'S ZETTERBERG OUT FOR REST OF OLYMPICS
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Zetterberg, the captain of Sweden's men's hockey team, will miss the remainder of the Sochi Olympics due to a herniated disk in his back.
Zetterberg lit the lamp in Sweden's 4-2 win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday, but missed Thursday's practice and didn't join his team for Friday's pre-game skate prior to Sweden's matchup against Switzerland.
Team doctor Bjorn Waldeback addressed the media and said Zetterberg has a herniated disk, leaving him unavailable for the remainder of the Olympics.
Zetterberg, the captain of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, missed 11 games in December due to a balky back.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press Friday that Zetterberg, "is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics.
"He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break," Holland continued. "Beyond that, I have no real time frame."
Sweden will not be able to nominate another player to take Zetterberg's spot on the roster because replacements were only possible before the beginning of the tournament.
LUNDQVIST, SWEDEN BLANK SWITZERLAND
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and Daniel Alfredsson scored the game's only goal in the third period, as Sweden earned a 1-0 win over Switzerland in the Olympic hockey tournament.
Sweden, coming off a win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday, improved to 2-0 in Group C. The Swedes, who will next meet winless Latvia to conclude round- robin play, learned before the contest that Henrik Zetterberg will miss the remainder of the Olympics because of herniated disk.
Reto Berra turned aside 30 shots for the Swiss, who played their second straight 1-0 game in the tournament. They scored in the closing seconds to beat Latvia on Wednesday.
The Swedes finally solved Berra with 7:21 remaining in the contest when Alfredsson swept home a rebound. Erik Karlsson fired a shot from the outer edge of the right circle and Berra was unable to control the puck, which caromed to the top of the crease for an unchecked Alfredsson.
Lundqvist made it stand up. He turned aside a couple of Swiss chances in the closing minutes, including a nice pad stop on a Roman Josi backhand with just under three minutes left.
Berra left the net for an extra attacker with a minute to play and the Swiss got one last chance in the closing seconds. Roman Wick raced into the Sweden zone along the right wing and fired a shot that was deflected wide.
Lundqvist made 13 saves in a first period dominated by the Swiss, then turned aside seven shots in the second before stopping six more in the third.
Berra had to withstand a 17-shot barrage in the second period to keep the game scoreless.
The Swiss will finish round-robin play on Saturday against the Czechs.
CZECH REPUBLIC BEATS LATVIA
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky both scored for the second straight game, as the Czech Republic recorded its first win at the Sochi Olympics with a 4-2 decision over Latvia at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Jakub Voracek broke a 2-2 tie just over seven minutes into the second period and Martin Erat opened the scoring in the first for the Czech Republic, which was coming off a 4-2 loss to Sweden in Wednesday's opener.
Ondrej Pavelec posted 18 saves to help the Czechs improve to 1-1 in Group C play.
Janis Sprukts and Herberts Vasiljevs scored for Latvia, which received 35 saves from goaltender Edgars Masalskis.
Latvia fell to 0-2 in Sochi after dropping a 1-0 decision Wednesday against Switzerland, which scored the game's only goal inside of 10 seconds remaining.
Erat ripped a shot through Masalskis' five-hole from the high slot 10:10 into the game to get the Czech Republic on the board, but Sprukts answered with a one-timer from the low left side to tie the score.
Sprukts' shot hit the camera in the back of the net and play continued as the disc shot back out into play. However, at the next stoppage, the referees reviewed the shot and credited Sprukts with the marker.
After Latvia's Mikelis Redlihs went off for a high-sticking double-minor at 18:36, Jagr picked up a blocked shot just inside the right circle and rifled the disc high into the far side corner for a 2-1 lead with 30.1 seconds left in the period.
Vasiljevs picked up a loose puck near the right circle and fired a quick shot off the far side post and in to make it 2-2 at 2:45 of the second stanza, but Voracek got his stick on Zbynek Michalek's blast from the high slot and tipped the puck past Masalskis for a 3-2 lead at 7:06.
Zidlicky backhanded a rebound home from the low right side with 2:58 left in the second to give the Czech Republic a 4-2 lead.
Latvia was unable to cut into the margin in the third, despite having a 5-on-3 power play late.
Both teams will be back in action Saturday, when the Czech Republic takes on Switzerland and Latvia faces off with Sweden in Group C play.
TRETIAKOV LEADS HALFWAY THROUGH MEN'S SKELETON
Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Russia's Alexander Tretiakov leads the men's skeleton after the first two runs and American John Daly is third.
Tretiakov set a start record and track record in his first run of 55.95 seconds Friday at Sanki Sliding Center. He leads Latvia's Martins Dukurs by .56 seconds with a two-run total time of 1 minute, 51.99 seconds.
Medals will be awarded after the last two runs on Saturday.
Daly's second run of 56.67 moved him from fourth to third, 1.59 seconds behind Tretiakov and .26 seconds ahead of U.S. teammate Matthew Antoine, who is fourth.
Russia's Sergei Chudinov is fifth and Tomass Dukurs, the older of the Latvian brothers, is sixth.
The race for gold is clearly between Tretiakov and the younger Dukurs.
"They really put it down," Daly said. "Tretiakov really threw it down. It's his track, it's his time, so it was kind of expected."
Tretiakov more than doubled his lead of .23 seconds over Martins Dukurs after the first run. He earned the bronze in 2010 behind Canada's Jon Montgomery and Martins Dukurs.
Tomass Dukurs was fourth in 2010.
Montgomery was one of the home stars of the Vancouver Olympics, but did not qualify for Sochi and told The Canadian Press he was "99 percent" sure he was going to retire.
Canada has won the last two gold medals in men's skeleton, but its best slider after two runs in John Fairbairn, who is .68 seconds out of medal contention in a tie for eighth place.
The last U.S. medal in men's skeleton was Jim Shea Jr.'s gold in 2002, when the sport made its return to the Olympics at Salt Lake City after an absence of 54 years.
On Friday, Ireland's Sean Greenwood flipped onto his side after losing control early in his second run but avoided an all-out crash by muscling himself back onto his sled to finish the race. He was in last place out of 27 sliders.
AUSTRIA'S HAYBOECK TOPS QUALIFIERS IN MEN'S LARGE HILL
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Austria's Michael Hayboeck led all qualifiers in the men's large hill event at the Sochi Olympics.
Hayboeck had the longest jump at 131.0 meters and totaled 124.8 points to top a pair of Japanese jumpers. Daiki Ito was second with 122.0 points, followed by countrymate Reruhi Shimizu at 120.4 points.
Austria's Thomas Morgenstern also qualified for Saturday's final rounds with a score of 116.0 points. Morgenstern, who was 14th in the normal hill last Sunday, is competing after suffering head and lung injuries in a crash last month.
The top 10 in the world were pre-qualified into Saturday's competition, including four-time gold medal winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland and last week's normal hill gold medal winner Kamil Stoch of Poland. Stoch did not make an attempt on Friday.
A total of 40 jumpers earned spots in Saturday's round, including Americans Nicholas Alexander, Nicholas Fairall and Anders Johnson. Peter Frenette failed to qualify.
CANADA WINS BIG, U.S. TAKES SPLIT IN CURLING
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canada continued to keep pace and the U.S. team earned a split as Olympic curling action continued on Friday.
Canada rolled past Norway 10-4, while Team USA beat Germany 8-5 in an early matchup before later falling 7-6 to Russia in the men's second session of the day.
With the win, Canada improved to 4-2, right behind a trio of 5-1 teams from China, Great Britain and Sweden.
Sweden created the jam at the top with a 6-5 win over China on Friday, with the Chinese rebounding to top Norway 7-5 later in the day.
In other men's action, Great Britain topped Denmark 8-6 and Germany earned a split on the day with an 8-7 decision over Switzerland.
At 2-4, the U.S. is ahead of only Germany and Switzerland, both 1-5, in the men's standings.
The women had four matches on the schedule Friday, none by front-running 5-0 Canada.
The U.S. lost for fifth time in six games in these Olympics, falling 9-2 to Denmark, while Great Britain and China won big as both improved to 3-2 in these Games.
Great Britain notched a 12-3 triumph over Japan, while China got past South Korea 11-3.
Also, Russia defeated Switzerland 6-3.
USA WOMEN'S BOBSLED CRASHES IN TRAINING
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - United States women's bobsled driver Elana Meyers crashed during her first training run on Friday.
Meyers, with brakeman Katie Eberling, rolled the sled after touching the wall coming out of corner 16 near the bottom of the track at the Sanki Sliding Center. There were no injuries and the two were able to take their second training run.
"I got in late to curve 16," said Meyers. "I didn't even know it was possible to crash in curve 16, but then I got in late and I touched the sled. When you do that and get in late, the sled shoots to the roof, and when I touched it, the sled went down, shot straight down and got pressure at the end of the corner and tossed me over. Not fun."
Considered a medal favorite, Meyers piloted the USA-1 sled to the third- fastest time in her second training run.
"That's the cool thing about bobsled, there's that danger, that risk and possibility that something could go wrong," Meyers added. "But I get to say, hey, you know what, I crashed, I took it to the face, but I'm going to go back up there and face my fear and do it again."
The women's two-man competition starts Tuesday and finishes Wednesday.