USA sets record in medal race, but host Canada is most in gold U.S. wins bobsled; first in 62 years
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — While the Vancouver Olympics aren't finished, the medal races are — and in spectacular fashion for North Americans.
The United States is guaranteed 37 medals and Canada will finish with at least 13 gold medals. Both are the best of these games and part of the greatest hauls ever at a Winter Olympics.
The Americans will leave with the most medals by any country at any Winter Games. They also will win the medal count for only the second time, the other being at Lake Placid in 1932.
Steven Holcomb and the "Night Train" delivered the 36th medal, and ninth gold, for the United States by winning the four-man bobsled event yesterday. The 37th will come from the men's hockey team. Whether it is gold or silver will be determined today.
Canada invested $117 million and five years into an "Own the Podium" program that was supposed to win the medals race. At least it bought the top step.
The Canadians have matched the record of 13 golds set by the Soviets in 1976 and Norway in 2002. It's also the most gold Canada has won at any Olympics, winter or summer, and its the most for any Winter Olympics host country; both those marks had been 10.
And how's this for timing: Lucky No. 13 came in the nation's second-favorite sport, curling, with beloved skip Kevin Martin shoving aside the Norway guys wearing those tacky trousers. The record-setting 14th could come today in the nation's far and away favorite sport, hockey, with Sidney Crosby and friends facing the Americans.
Canadians also will finish third on the overall medals list. They've claimed 26, counting the one in hockey. Germany is second with 29.
All told, it's a staggering list of achievements for the hosts and their nearest neighbor.
Bottom line: The rest of the world is probably glad the next two Winter Games will be held in other continents.
Among the other highlights yesterday:
• The U.S men's team pursuit squad in speedskating took silver, finishing just behind — guess who? — Canada.
• A few minutes later, Canada got another gold when Jasey-Jay Anderson won the men's parallel giant slalom.
• Norway's Marit Bjoergen was a photo finish from getting her fourth gold medal of these games. She wound up settling for silver and becoming the first person in Vancouver with five medals; nobody else even has four.
There are only two events today, the hockey game and a 50-kilometer men's cross-country race.
MILLER BAILS OUT IN FINALE
Bode Miller wasn't able to add anything beyond the gold, silver and bronze he'd already won. He bailed out just a few gates into the slalom, a casualty of "grabby" snow that bedeviled a slew of skiers.
Miller is one of only five men to get three Alpine medals at a games, a record performance for a U.S. skier. His five career Olympic medals are tied for second on the career list behind Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has eight.
"I really couldn't be much happier," Miller said. "I came out, I was ready, I was prepared — that's all the stuff you can do."
Giuliano Razzoli won, giving Italy's first Alpine medal in the Winter Games in 16 years.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia picked up his second silver in Vancouver, while Austria's usually powerful men's team finished an Olympic shutout.
Canada's Jasey-Jay Anderson, a seven-time World Cup champion, carved through the rain-sluiced, fogged-in men's parallel giant slalom course to take down Austria's Benjamin Karl, the top-ranked rider in the world.
It was his first Olympic medal in four tries, adding it to his four world championship golds and a career that has done more than anyone's to spread the word of snowboarding across his wintry country.
Bronze medalist Mathieu Bozzetto of France called the conditions "ugly," and American Tyler Jewell said if this had been a World Cup event, "they probably would have canceled it."
American Chris Klug — who won bronze in 2002, 18 months after a lifesaving liver transplant — knocked off the top seed but later skidded out. He finished seventh and Jewell 13th.
CANADIAN MEN ROCK
Eight years ago in Salt Lake City, Kevin Martin's final stone went an inch too far and the Canadians lost the gold medal to the Norwegians. This time, with a sellout crowd singing the national anthem, Martin's final stone didn't even matter.
Canada stormed through the tournament 11-0 to win gold for the second straight Olympics. (Martin, however, wasn't on the 2006 squad.)
Switzerland swept past Sweden for the men's bronze medal, getting two points on its final rock.
BLIND ATHLETE NOT PICKED
Canada turned in its four cross-country skiers for the 50-kilometer mass start classic race today, and it doesn't include legally blind Brian McKeever, who was hoping to become the first competitor in both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The 30-year-old McKeever — who started going blind in college because of a degenerative disease, but still has peripheral vision — said he understands the decision.
"Olympic dream over," he wrote on his Twitter account. "I don't think I've ever been so sad."
In the women's 30k classical race, Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk beat Marit Bjoergen in a photo finish. Kowalczyk, the World Cup leader, now has a medal of each color.
CHILEAN ATHLETES: Alpine skier Noelle Barahona of Chile is sticking around for the closing ceremony after learning her family was safe following the devastating earthquake in her country. Barahona actually was planning on going home yesterday, but couldn't get a flight. Chile's two other Olympians already had left Vancouver, one to France and the other to Seattle.
LONDON 2012: The head of the next Olympics — the 2012 Summer Games in London — hopes to match the full venues and lively crowds he's seen in Vancouver. "Not since Sydney (in 2000) have I seen a city embrace the games the way they've been embraced here," Sebastian Coe said. "My gut instinct is that is what these games will be remembered for." Coe and about 50 staffers have been in Vancouver to see how things are being done.
HOT TICKET: On Craigslist, many of the tickets for today's United States-Canada gold medal game were going for more than $4,000, and one seller was offering two "awesome seats" for $14,999 — cash only.