Kearney picks up first U.S. gold
WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Someday very soon, 'O Canada' will receive good air time at the Vancouver Olympics.
First, though, American Hannah Kearney gets to celebrate.
It's a party four years in the making for the 23-year-old from New Hampshire, who slashed through the rain and down the moguls last night — a remarkable run that gave America its first gold medal of these Olympics and denied Jenn Heil the honor of becoming the first Canadian to win gold on home turf.
"I know Canada hasn't won a gold medal on their home turf, but I have a feeling they'll do it these games," said Kearney, after skiing down the track dotted by bumps, or moguls. "But I'm pleased that I could stop that for now."
Heil came in as the favorite on paper — winner of her last four World Cup events — but this one really wasn't close. Kearney scored 26.63 points to win by .94 — a wide margin in a sport often decided by tenths and hundredths.
She won in a blowout four years after entering Turin as the defending world champion but stumbled in qualifying for a 22nd-place finish that left her crying at the bottom.
This time, Kearney finished first after qualifying, then first again when it really counted — the last run of the night, when the gold medal was on the line.
"I think the qualifying run was the key to my success today," Kearney said. "In some ways, it was redemption for the absolute failure I experienced in Torino."
Shannon Bahrke took bronze to add to her silver from 2002 and push America's medal total to four after the first full day of competition. Apolo Anton Ohno took silver and J.R. Celski won bronze in speedskating earlier.
CANADA IN ROUT; SWEDEN EDGES SWITZERLAND
Canada opened its run at a third straight gold medal with a goal just 99 seconds in and went on to ring up the biggest blowout in Olympic history: 18-0 over Slovakia.
The reigning silver medalists from Sweden beat Switzerland, 3-0, in the first match of the women's hockey tournament.
WEATHER DELAYS EVENTS; VONN BAKING BREAD
Alpine skiers woke up yesterday to news of another day of delays, then got a new schedule: Seven events in seven days.
That is, if the weather cooperates.
The 10-day forecast is not very encouraging: Highs in the mid-40s almost every day, and at or below freezing only three nights, never getting colder than 29. There's a good chance of rain, and perhaps snow showers, today and Tuesday, then turning partly cloudy and finally sunny by next weekend.
The men's downhill, which was supposed to produce the first gold medal of these Olympics, is scheduled to kick things off tomorrow.
American sensation Lindsey Vonn is loving the layoff because it gives her more time to heal from a shin injury. And to bake. She tweeted that she spent the afternoon making banana bread.
SLOVAKIA'S KUZMINA WINS; AMERICAN IS 45TH
Slovakia's Anastazia Kuzmina won the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint. The top American, Sara Studebaker, finished 45th, more than two minutes behind.
SWITZERLAND'S AMMANN WHIZZES TO GOLD MEDAL
If Simon Ammann's name doesn't ring a bell, maybe this will: He's the Swiss ski jumper who looked a lot like Harry Potter back at the 2002 Olympics, when he won two gold medals.
Now 28 — and no longer a double for the boy wizard — Ammann's victory was decisive with the longest jumps in both rounds. It was an impressive rebound from '06, when he failed to advance to the final round.
"I'm back at the top of the world," said Ammann, who became the first two-time champion on the normal hill and matched Finnish great Matti Nykanen's record of three individual golds.
With Vice President Joe Biden watching, none of the three U.S. ski jumpers made it to the final round. Peter Frenette and Nick Alexander tied for 41st, while Anders Johnson was 49th.
WEIR DECIDES TO GO WITH FUR-FREE COSTUME
Memo to anti-fur folks: Johnny Weir won't be wearing any animal skins in Vancouver.
Weir said he's received "very serious threats" from activists since adding white fox fur to his costume at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last month. They were so serious that he moved into the Olympic village, something he really didn't want to do but felt it was best for his safety.
However, he insists there are other reasons for his decision to go with a fur-free costume.
"It was not because I was pressured to change it," he said. "I'm just switching back to another costume."
The men's short program is Tuesday, and the free skate is Thursday.