Hockey teams save day for U.S. U.S. speedskaters off to bumpy start
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — On a day when the United States was shut out of medals, falling into second place in the overall chase with eight to Germany's nine, there was some good news for the red, white and blue: the men's hockey team won its opener, and the women's hockey team dominated again.
Canadians were excited because their two favorite sports cranked up: hockey and curling.
Excitement filled the arena when Sidney Crosby and the boys took the ice, but things turned tense when Canada and Norway played to a scoreless tie after one period. Jarome Iginla got the scoring started early in the second, and it was like a dam bursting. Iginla and Dany Heatley scored twice, and Crosby had three assists on the way to an 8-0 victory over a club lacking a single NHL player.
Canada's love of hockey is well known. And curling, too, is beloved. The atmosphere in the 5,000-seat arena was reminiscent of a Duke-North Carolina basketball game. There were even scalpers. (Seriously.)
"It's just so much fun to be a part of," Canada's skip Kevin Martin said, following a 7-6 victory sealed on the final throw.
Yet it wasn't a great day for Vancouver organizers. They had to deal with lots more weather issues, timing blunders in biathlon, a spigot going off and spraying water onto the luge track just before the eventual bronze medalist went down, and the realization they goofed by putting up a chain-link fence to keep everyone away from the outdoor cauldron.
CONFIDENT U.S. WINS
Bobby Ryan scored late in the first period, and David Backes and Ryan Malone added goals in the second period for a 3-1 win over Switzerland.
Ryan Miller was solid in the net, although he was forced to put tape over the words "Miller Time" painted on his mask.
"This is a fairly quiet team, which kind of surprises me. But quietly confident," U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. "We are a chemistry experiment that's going to take some time."
ANOTHER POTTER HAT TRICK
Jenny Potter came to Vancouver with five goals over three previous trips to the Olympics.
After just two games in Vancouver, she's already scored six times. She's averaging a hat trick, although that probably is more of a reflection on the competition.
Her latest three-goal game came in a 13-0 rout of Russia, clinching a spot in next week's playoffs. The Americans took just two shots in the final period to avoid making this any more humiliating for a young Russian team missing its starting goalie.
U.S. TEAMS BOTH LOSE
U.S. men curlers better start sweeping faster. Or slower. They need to do something different after a 7-5 loss to a strong German squad and a 6-5 loss to Norway.
"It's one of those weird deals where you're very close," U.S. skip John Shuster said.
The U.S. women blew a three-point lead and lost 9-7 to Japan.
SOUTH KOREA STAYS HOT
The ice-cleaners worked!
The South Koreans keep cleaning up, too, with Lee Sang-hwa winning the women's 500 meters. That makes two gold and a silver in four events at the big oval for a nation that had never won a Winter Olympic gold in any sport except short track.
"All my friends won medals, so I had a little bit of pressure," Lee said. "I was a little bit worried."
How big of an upset was this? Well, either German world-record-holder Jenny Wolf or China's Wang Beixing had won the eight World Cup races this season. In the biggest race, though, Wolf got silver, Wang bronze.
GERMANS SWEEP AGAIN
Tatjana Huefner gave Germany its ninth women's singles luge gold in 13 Olympic competitions. With Felix Loch's winning the men's event, Germany has swept gold for the sixth time, something no other nation has ever done.
Top U.S. hopeful Erin Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, was 16th.
TIMING ERRORS MAR EVENT
Both events were marred by problems with the officials who were in charge of timing. Three women were sent out late and two men went out too early, including American Jeremy Teela.
"It is embarrassing," said Norbert Baier, the International Biathlon Union's technical delegate. "Why do we have this incompetence?"
Bjorn Ferry won the men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit, giving Sweden its first gold medal in biathlon in 50 years. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen [0x02][0x01]women's 10-kilometer pursuit, a reversal of their finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint. Sara Studebaker was the top American, finishing 46th.
WEATHER WOES: Another 20,000 folks planning to watch events on Cypress Mountain are out of luck.
Wet, warm weather has wiped out the general admission, standing room area for watching snowboarding halfpipe, ski cross and snowboard parallel giant slalom. The tickets, which cost $48 to $62, are being refunded, along with the 8,000 tickets already refunded for watching snowboardcross from the same spot.
TV RATINGS: The Winter Olympics are a big hit for NBC, drawing 15 percent more viewers through the first four nights than the 2006 Turin Games.
"We are really thrilled by the performance of the Olympics," said Alan Wurtzel, NBC Universal's top research executive.