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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Olympics spoiler alert: Speedskating team pursuit finals


PAUL NEWBERRY
AP National Writer

Results of the men's and women's team pursuit finals.

RICHMOND, British Columbia The Canadian men finally won gold at the speedskating oval, leaving Chad Hedrick with a silver in the final race of his career Saturday.

The Germans repeated as champions of the women's team pursuit first with a belly flop across the line, then by less than the length of a skate blade.

Hedrick had hoped to head into retirement with a gold, but the 32-year-old Texan trailed a pair of 19-year-old teammates, finishing 21-hundredths of a second behind the last of the Canadians to cross.

Still, Hedrick leaves behind quite a career: five medals in five different events, joining Eric Heiden as the only American men to win five long-track medals.

Heiden, now a doctor for the U.S. team, led the cheers for Hedrick, Jonathan Kuck and Brian Hansen from behind the pads heading into the first turn as they saluted the crowd, holding up an American flag.

Canada's women captured four individual medals at the Richmond Olympic Oval, but the men were a disappointment until their final race. Maybe they just work better as a team.

Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux ensured that "O Canada" played at least once for the men during the 15-day competition, winning with a time of 3 minutes, 41.37 seconds. The Americans finished the eight-lap race in 3:41.58.

No one cut it closer than the German women.

Matched against the Americans in the semifinals, they appeared to have lost when Anni Friesinger-Postma stumbled a couple of times on the final lap and fell coming down the last straightaway. Sliding along on her belly, she waved her arms furiously, like a swimmer, then stuck out her skate to trigger the timer.

She buried her head against the ice, believing she had cost her team a spot in the final, then reacted giddily when she realized the Germans had still won by 0.23.

Katrin Mattscherodt swapped out for Friesinger-Postma in the final against Japan, teaming with Stephanie Beckert and Daniela Anschutz Thoms to overcome a deficit of nearly two seconds midway through the race.

The Japanese team of Masako Hozumi, Nao Kodaira and Maki Tabata couldn't hold off the Germans, who defended the inaugural women's pursuit title they won four years ago at Turin by a mere two-hundredths of a second.

Poland claimed the bronze, overcoming the U.S. when Catherine Raney-Norman couldn't keep up with teammates Jennifer Rodriguez and Jilleanne Rookard. The first two crossed ahead of the Poles, but the time only counts when all three skaters finish. Raney-Norman labored across 1.57 behind the bronze medalists.

Rodriguez was denied a third career medal in what is expected to be her final Olympics.