Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics — Day 13 review

By Paul Hurst

Women’s Bobsleigh

There was a North American sweep of the medals in the Women’s Bobsleigh last night, finally ending the European stranglehold at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Prior to the event, European nations had won 17 of the 18 medals awarded at the Sliding Centre with nine of those going to Germany. The sole exception was the gold medal in the Men’s Skeleton, which went to Canada’s Jon Montgomery.

However, the hosts had plenty to cheer about last night as Canada completed a 1-2 in Whistler. The team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, aboard Canada 1, stormed to the gold medal. Their winning margin was 0.85 seconds, ahead of their compatriots Upperton and Brown in Canada 2.

Humphries had piloted Canada 1 to the overnight lead, and never gave it up on Wednesday. Their third run resulted in a new track record of 52.85, lowering their own mark by almost two-tenths of a second. The final run was slower, but more than enough to seal the victory.

The fastest run in that fourth and final heat came from Canada 2, and coupled with a poor run from Erin Pac on USA 2, allowed them to leapfrog the Americans for the silver medal. Pac had to settle for the bronze.

World champions Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke, aboard Great Britain 1 failed to finish the event, after crashing on their third run. Both were banged up, but fortunately managed to escape serious injury. Great Britain 2, carrying Paula Walker and Kelly Thomas, finished in 11th.

There was more disappointment for Britain at the Vancouver Olympic Centre as Britain’s men crashed out of the Curling competition. In their play-off match against Sweden, Britain made numerous mistakes, but forced extra ends after picking up a shot in the tenth. However, the Swedes held their nerve and picked up the 7-6 victory to progress.

Australia picked up their second gold of the Games, as Lydia Lassila was victorious in the Ladies’ Freestyle Aerials. Lassila was in second after the first round, but came up with the best jump of the competition with her second to take the lead.

First round leader Xu Mengtao of China had a poor second jump and finished a disappointing sixth. There was joy for China though, as Li Nina and Guo Xinxin took the silver and bronze.

There was more success for China, albeit in somewhat more controversial circumstances, as they won gold in the Ladies’ Short Track 3000m Relay. South Korea were first across the line, but were subsequently disqualified after impeding the Chinese on a changeover. Canada finished with the silver, and the USA with bronze, following the disqualification.

Martina Sablikova picked up her second gold of the Games in the Ladies’ 5000m Speed Skating. She finished ahead of Germany’s Stephanie Beckert, and Canada’s Clara Hughes. Sablikova won the Czech Republic’s only other gold of the Games, in the 3000m, in addition to a bronze in the 1500m.

The Czechs also claimed their first Team Cross Country Olympic medal since the Games were last held in Canada in 1988, with bronze in the Men’s 4 x 10km Relay. They finished behind Norway in second, and winners Sweden.

The Alpine Skiing program was once again disrupted on Wednesday as the second leg of the Ladies’ Giant Slalom had to be postponed until Thursday. The course was shrouded in fog, and although the organisers managed to get the first run in, some of the athletes were far from happy.

Julia Mancuso looked on course to take the lead, until she was abruptly stopped by the stewards mid-way through her run. On the previous run, Mancuso’s team-mate Lindsey Vonn had crashed, forcing the stewards to yellow-flag Mancuso, while they managed to get Vonn off the course.

The interruption completely disrupted Mancuso’s concentration. When she finally got to complete her first run, she finished a very disappointing 18th, and wasted no time in expressing her frustration at the organisers through her Twitter account.

It was later revealed that Vonn broke a finger in her crash, and her status for the Ladies’ Slalom on Friday is currently unknown. Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl is the overnight leader. The second run in slated to get underway at 9.30am (5.30pm UK) on Thursday.

Friday will also see the conclusion of the Women’s Ice Hockey competition, as Canada take on the USA in the gold medal match, with face-off at 3.30pm (11.30pm UK). Both nations will be hoping this will be a prelude to the Men’s Final, as both progressed to the semi-finals last night, with the Canadian men having a particularly impressive 7-3 victory over Russia.

The Men’s Freestyle Aerials concludes up on Cypress Mountain at 6pm (2am UK), and we will also see medals in Nordic Combined, Cross Country, and Figure Skating, with the Ladies’ Free Skate.

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