U.S. Takes Gold, Bronze in Speedskating; Silver in Moguls Skiing
SALT LAKE CITY – Officially, it's the XIX Winter Games — which may be one X too many.
Moguls skier Travis Mayer, sailing down the bumpy course on the last run of the day, grabbed a silver medal Tuesday in yet another of the X-Games crossover sports that the Americans have dominated at the Salt Lake City Olympics — six medals in all.
But just when it seemed that the X-treme youngsters were having all the fun, American Casey FitzRandolph grabbed a gold and teammate Kip Carpenter a bronze in the 500 meter speedskating. FitzRandolph's close encounter with a lane pylon caused a brief scare, but couldn't keep him from victory in his second Olympics.
The U.S. team, through four days of competition, has an Olympics-high 9 medals: 3 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze. The U.S. snowboarders have captured four medals, including a gold, while Shannon Bahrke won a silver in the women's moguls.
"If you would have told me a few months ago that I would even make the Olympics, I wouldn't have believed you," fellow moguls medalist Mayer said. "It's something I never expected."
But it wasn't a good day for defending U.S. gold medalists. Mayer's teammate, Jonny Moseley, wound up in fourth place despite a scintillating run that included a near-perfect delivery of his gravity-challenging Dinner Roll.
"I thought it was a gold medal run," Moseley said afterward.
And Picabo Street, in her last Olympics, didn't come close to becoming the first American woman to win three Olympic skiing medals. Street, who won gold four years ago in the super giant slalom, finished 16th in the downhill — the event where she took a silver in 1994.
Mayer, just 19, was so unsure of his Olympic chances that he told his family not to buy any tickets. His performance would have lifted them out of their seats anyway.
"To do so well at home is obviously more enjoyable," said Mayer, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., who enjoyed the rabid U.S. fan support that has marked the games.
Janne Lahtela of Finland won the moguls gold and Richard Gay of France got the bronze.
The Americans have won at least one medal per day, and are just four short of their previous Winter Games high of 13 medals. Trailing the Americans on the medal board: Austria with 7 (1 gold, 1 silver, 5 bronze), along with Germany's 6 (2-3-1) and Norway's 6 (3-3-0).
MEN'S SPEEDSKATING: It wobbled into his path, nearly taking him down — a small orange pylon, about the only thing between FitzRandolph and his gold medal in the 500 meters.
Briefly knocked off-stride by the cone — it was kicked in harm's way by his teammate Carpenter — FitzRandolph recovered and collected America's third gold of the games.
He took his victory lap while waving an American flag, as many in the crowd waved their own Stars and Stripes back at him. "Nobody Beats CaseyFitz," read one sign.
FitzRandolph, 27, edged 1998 champion Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan by 0.03 seconds. Carpenter's bronze gave the U.S. speedskaters three medals through the first three events at the Utah Olympic Oval.
WOMEN'S DOWNHILL: Street's downhill demise, in her comeback from a wicked crash that severely injured both her legs, was not all that surprising. But the winner was: Carole Montillet of France, who had never won a World Cup downhill.
Montillet had a nearly mistake-free run to top Isolde Kostner of Italy, who won silver, and bronze medalist Renate Goetschl of Austria.
Street, now 30 and at the end of her career, was still happy with her final race.
"What a great way to go out before a crowd like this," she said. "It's crazy good."
FIGURE SKATING: American Todd Eldredge, making an improbable Olympic comeback at 30, hit the ice twice in finishing ninth in the men's short program — an abrupt end to the six-time national champion's hope of a medal. After the program, the only American with a realistic medal shot was third-place finisher Tim Goebel.
Russian Alexei Yagudin was the leader heading into Thursday night's free skate, with Japan's Takeshi Honda in second.
WOMEN'S HOCKEY: The defending gold medalist U.S. team jumped to an early 2-0 lead, then went on to a 10-0 victory over Germany in its opening game. Karyn Bye, who opened the scoring, had two goals along with Laurie Baker as the Americans racked up a 57-8 advantage in shots on goal.
In another opener, Finland beat China 4-0.
LUGE: With two runs down and two to go, American Becky Wilczak was in fourth place with a shot at medal. She trails three Germans going into Wednesday's final runs; in first was two-time defending world champion Sylke Otto.
SKI JUMPING: A pair of Americans, cheered by a boisterous crowd of 19,200, qualified for the finals in the 120-meter ski jump. Alan Alborn, who lives in Park City, and Clint Jones were among those advancing to Wednesday's two-round final.
Alborn's eighth place finish was the best American showing.
Poland's Adam Malysz, the bronze medal winner at 90 meters, was the leader after qualifying. Other qualifiers included Simon Ammann of Switzerland, this year's 90-meter gold medalist, and defending champion Kazuyoshi Funaki of Japan.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Bente Skari won Norway's first individual Olympic gold medal ever in the event, edging Olga Danilova of Russia by 2.5 seconds in a dramatic finish to the women's 10-kilometer race.
Skari, 29, was victorious on a sunny day in the high-altitude trails of Soldier Hollow. Russian Julija Tchepalova took the bronze.
On Tuesday afternoon, in the men's 15-kilometer race, Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia won the gold medal. Frode Estil of Norway won the silver, and Jaak Mae of Estonia won the bronze.
MEN'S HOCKEY: Germany, with its third straight victory, advanced past the Olympic hockey preliminary round with a 4-1 victory over Latvia. Austria defeated Slovakia 3-2, but neither team will advance.
CURLING: The U.S. women's curling team opened its Olympic campaign with an 8-7 victory over Japan. In other matches, Switzerland beat Russia 7-6, while Canada defeated Norway 6-5; both winners went to 2-0. Sweden beat Britain, 7-4.