Olympic Daily News - Friday, February 21th
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Marielle Thompson captured the women's Olympic skicross event Friday over teammate Kelsey Serwa to keep the gold medal in Canadian hands.
Thompson held off Serwa in the four-rider big final as the Canadians easily finished first and second.
Their medal path was made easier after 37-year-old Ophelie David of France -- bidding to become the oldest woman to win a solo event at the Winter Olympics -- fell.
Sweden's Anna Holmlund earned the bronze behind the silver medalist Serwa, who was a front-runner much of the day after posting the top time in the seeding round and winning her 1/8 final and quarterfinal races.
She was at risk of not making it out of the semifinals before reigning world champion Fanny Smith, leading the race, lost speed on a bump near the end of the course to open the door.
Sweden's Sandra Naeslund, 17, won the small final to take fifth place ahead of Austria's Katrin Ofner, Australia's Katya Crema and Smith.
Thompson, who leads the World Cup standings, finished first in her 1/8 final and was fighting for a top-two spot in her quarterfinal when Switzerland's Sanna Luedi fell down the stretch. Thompson won the heat and then beat David in the second semifinal.
Another Canadian, Georgia Simmerling, finished first in her 1/8 final but fell in the quarterfinals and was knocked out of medal contention.
Thompson followed in the tracks of Ashleigh McIvor, who won gold for Canada on home soil at the Vancouver Olympics but has since retired.
Canada's 1-2 finish followed a French medal sweep of the men's event Thursday, led by winner Jean Frederic Chapuis.
The only previous Olympic medalist in the women's field, Marion Josserand of France, was knocked out in the 1/8 finals.
Australia's Sami Kennedy-Sim, who suffered a stroke last April and returned to competition only months later, crashed after losing control around a turn in her 1/8 final and failed to advance.
Germany's Anna Woerner and Chile's Stephanie Joffroy were both taken off the hill on stretchers after separate quarterfinal crashes, further highlighting the danger faced by skiers in an event where they have to race across jumps and around steep turns.
Russia's Maria Komissarova suffered a fractured spine in a training crash last Saturday and had emergency surgery at a hospital built for the Olympics in the most serious injury to an athlete at the Sochi Games.
The United States did not have a skier in the field.
SWEDEN BEATS CHINA IN EXTRA END, WINS BRONZE
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sweden tied the match on a measurement in the 10th end, then earned two points in an extra end Friday to beat China 6-4 in the men's curling bronze medal match at the Sochi Olympics.
It was the first Olympic medal for the men's team since a silver at the 1924 Chamonix Games.
China's men's team remained without a medal in Olympic play. It missed winning bronze by mere millimeters on a close measurement in the 10th end -- its stone rested beside Sweden's just outside the button.
China had a stone removed in the ninth end because it wasn't released before the line.
Sweden made it through the tournament with two losses -- to Denmark in round- robin play and to Great Britain in Wednesday's semifinals. It also needed an extra end to beat China 6-5 in round-robin play last Friday.
The Swedish women's team has been wildly successful since the sport returned to the Olympics in 1998, winning two golds and four medals overall, including a silver in Sochi.
China went 7-2 in round-robin play in Sochi, then lost 10-6 to Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday.