Olympic Focus Back on Athletes

Just a quick reminder from the Winter Games: The Olympics are still about the athletes.

Skier Kjetil Andre Aamodt, along with biathlon winner and Norwegian teammate Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, transcended the figure skating judging controversy Saturday and swept to medals that insured their spots in Olympic history.

And American speedskater Joey Cheek snapped up a bronze in the 1,000 meters, extending the home team's medal-winning streak to eight straight days, in a race where Dutchman Gerard van Velde set a world record.

For Aamodt, his second gold medal in four days — this time in the Super G — gave him seven lifetime Olympic medals. It's two more than the previous highest total in Alpine skiing, home to big-name Olympians from Jean-Claude Killy to Alberto Tomba.

For Bjoerndalen, his victory in the men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit was his third Salt Lake City gold — making him the first biathlete to ever win three gold medals. That he did it in just six days makes it difficult to believe — even for him.

"I never thought that that I would get three gold medals," Bjoerndalen said. "... For me, this is really amazing."

Aamodt, 30, swept past the favored Austrians to win the super giant slalom — his first win in a Super-G race in nine years. The four-time Olympian now owns three gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

"Today," the veteran said of his second Salt Lake City Games gold, "was just a bonus."

The silver went to Stephan Eberharter of Austria, with his teammate Andreas Schifferer winning bronze. The U.S. medal hopeful, Daron Rahlves, was a disappointing eighth after a run marked by too-wide turns and several bobbles.

"This is the one I wanted to win, but I just made too many mistakes," Rahlves said.

Staying atop the medals table was Germany with 18 (5 gold, 8 silver, 5 bronze), followed by the United States with 15 (3-6-6). Tied with 12 were Norway (7-5-0) and Austria (1-3-8).

— SPEEDSKATING: Bronze medalist Cheek was the best of the Americans, who placed four finishers in the top seven. The 22-year-old Cheek, who aspires to hosting his own MTV show, trailed a pair of skaters from the Netherlands.

Gerard van Velde set a new world record in taking the gold, while teammate Jan Bos win silver. Olympic 500 champion Casey FitzRandolph was ahead of the world-record pace at 600 meters, but flamed out and finished seventh.

The Americans, enjoying their best performance ever in the Winter Games, have won at least one medal in every day of competition so far.

The world record was the third in five Olympic events at the Utah Oval, a high-altitude rink that is considered the fastest in the world.

— FIGURE SKATING: What's a day in Salt Lake City without news about the pairs figure skating flap?

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the Canadians who received gold medals Friday after problems with a French judge were exposed, will receive those medals Sunday night in a special ceremony.

It was not immediately clear if the co-gold medalists, Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, would attend.

— BIATHLON: It wasn't perfect, but it was enough.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen missed two of his 20 shots in the 12.5K biathlon pursuit, yet captured his third gold medal of the week. Raphael Poiree of France won the silver and Ricco Gross of Germany took the bronze.

Bjoerndalen began the event 29 seconds ahead of Germany's Sven Fischer based on results from Wednesday's 10K sprint, and never surrendered the lead. And he may add more medals — Bjoerndalen has one solo and two relay races ahead.

American Jay Hakkinen finished 13th, the highest finish ever for an American in any biathlon event.

— WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Behind a hat trick from first-time Olympian Natalie Darwitz, the U.S. women stayed on track to defend their gold medal.

The Americans beat Finland 5-0 Saturday to clinch a top seed in the medal round, as Sara DeCosta stopped 21 shots for her third Olympic shutout. The United States' 34th consecutive victory set up a semifinal matchup with the loser of Canada-Sweden game scheduled for later Saturday.

— NORDIC COMBINED: If they can ski as well as they ski jump, the U.S. Nordic combined could break its 0-for-the-Olympics losing streak.

On Saturday, the team was in third place after the 90-kilometer jumping portion of the event. The second half, a 20-kilometer cross-country relay, is Sunday.

The United States has never won a medal in 23 Nordic combined events across 19 Olympics.

— WOMEN'S BIATHLON: Olga Pyleva won the 10-kilometer biathlon pursuit gold medal, the first Olympic gold of the 26-year-old Russian's career.

Kati Wilhelm of Germany won the silver and Irina Nikoultchina of Bulgaria won the bronze.

Five-time world champion Magdalena Forsberg of Sweden, still seeking her first Olympic gold after two bronzes this year, finished six after missing two of her final shots.

— FREESTYLE SKIING: Four American men were among the dozen qualifiers for the aerials final, led by the 2-3 finish of Eric Bergoust and Joe Pack. Alexei Grichin of Belarus was the leader. The finals are Tuesday.

No American women were among the 12 skiers who qualified for the Monday finals of the distaff aerials. Tracy Evans, who finished 14th, was the best of the U.S. bunch, with Brenda Petzold finishing 17th.

— CURLING: The American women (3-3) stayed in contention for a semifinal berth with a convincing 11-4 rout of the Russians. U.S. skip Kari Erickson made a game-breaking shot in the fifth to give the Americans an insurmountable 8-0 lead.

In other games, unbeaten Canada clinched a spot in the semifinals with a 9-4 victory over Japan; Britain beat Denmark 8-6; and Germany beat Sweden 7-5.