Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics — Day 16 review

By Paul Hurst
Justyna Kowalczyk

Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk (Photo: Tor Atle Kleven)

The last full day of competition in British Columbia was another successful one for the hosts, as they picked up four more medals, three of them gold.

In an unpredictable final day of competition on Cypress Mountain, Jasey Jay Anderson from Quebec was the one who held his nerve to win the gold medal in the Men’s Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom.

Poor weather made for difficult conditions for a second straight day, as a number of the expected contenders for the gold fell away at the quarter-final stage.

Anderson found himself 0.76 seconds behind Austria’s Benjamin Karl, top of the world rankings, after the first run in the Big Final.

However, after switching lanes for the second run, Karl struggled, as Anderson carved his way through the wet snow to pick-up Canada’s 12th gold by 0.35 seconds. France’s Mathieu Bozzetto won the Small Final to take the bronze.

Anderson’s victory came just minutes after Canada had claimed gold at the Richmond Olympic Oval in the final event of the Men’s Speed Skating programme, the Team Pursuit. The team of Giroux, Makowsky and Morrison finished 0.21 seconds ahead of the American team. The Dutch team, containing individual gold medallists Sven Kramer and Mark Tuitert, won bronze.

In the Ladies’ event, Germany managed to win gold, despite recording one of the best bloopers of the Games in their semi-final. Anni Friesinger-Postma stumbled on the final lap, and ended up crossing the line on her stomach, looking more like a swimmer than a skater. Despite her fall, she still managed to get across the line 0.23 seconds ahead of Japan.

In the final the Germans again faced off against the Japanese, and despite all three German skaters crossing the line on their skates this time, their margin of victory was just 0.02 seconds. Poland defeated the USA to win bronze.

At Whistler, Marit Bjoergen missed out on an incredible fourth Gold medal of the 2010 Games by the narrowest of margins in the Ladies’ Cross-Country 30km Mass Start. After an hour and a half of skiing, nothing could separate Bjoergen from Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk down the final straight.

It took the slightest mistake from the Norwegian just metres from the line to give Kowalczyk the victory by just 0.3 seconds. The bronze medal went to Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

The Men’s 50km Mass Start — the Winter Olympic equivalent of the marathon — is one of the two events taking place tomorrow, finishing off the program of events at Whistler. The race gets underway at 9.30am (5.30pm UK).

Canada’s gold rush continued into the evening as they defeated Norway in the finale of the Men’s Curling competition at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.

Kevin Martin’s team became the first to go through an entire Olympic competition undefeated, as they capped their amazing run with a 6-3 victory. Switzerland defeated Sweden earlier in the day to take bronze.

25 year old Giuliano Razzoli won gold in the Men’s Slalom. In the lead after the first run, the Italian had the last run of these Olympics down the Whistler Creekside course. It was far from perfect, but more than enough to hold on to his 0.43 second advantage from the first run.

The race was Razzoli’s Olympic debut, and he was delighted to follow in his mentor Alberto Tomba’s footsteps on Canadian snow. The legendary Tomba won the Slalom gold at the Calgary games in 1988.

Razzoli’s victory is the first by an Italian man in Alpine Skiing since Tomba’s victory in the Giant Slalom at Albertville in 1992, and Italy’s first overall gold in Vancouver.

In the final event at the much-discussed Whistler Sliding Centre, ‘The Night Train’ powered to victory in the Four-Man Bobsleigh. The Steven Holcomb-piloted sled – officially USA 1 – never looked in any danger of losing the lead they’d accrued over the first three runs.

Their final run was only third best, but they had no need to risk anything, carrying a 0.45 second advantage into the medal run.

The track wasn’t running as quick on Saturday as it did for the first two runs on Friday, where we saw track records, but the top sleds were still managing times well under 51.5 seconds.

Germany’s Andre Lange missed out on winning a fifth Olympic gold, but he did get a silver medal, leapfrogging Lyndon Rush for second position. Lange’s final run was just enough to put them ahead of Rush’s Canada 1 by bobsleigh’s narrowest possible margin – 0.01 seconds.

After Finland defeated Slovakia 5-3 for the bronze medal at Canada Hockey Place last night, the showcase event – the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game – will take place today, the final day of these 21st Olympic Winter Games.

It is the tie that most impartial observers would have hoped for throughout the tournament, hosts Canada taking on their neighbours to the south, the United States of America. Face-off is at 12.15pm (8.15pm UK).

The US were victorious when the teams met in the group stage, but with the expectations of a nation on their shoulders, and a crowd inside Canada Hockey Place which will be overwhelmingly behind them, the Canadians are favourites to regain their title from 2002.

One thing is certain; despite a record-tying 13 gold medals so far at these Games, if the Canadians walk away with silver today, the mood of the nation will be more one of disappointment than celebration.

Vancouver 2010 will conclude with the Closing Ceremony from BC Place at 5.30pm (1.30am UK) tonight.

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