Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics — Day 7 review

By Paul Hurst

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Australia, a nation not traditionally renowned for their winter sports prowess, won their first-ever snowboarding gold medal on day seven in Vancouver.

Torah Bright surprised the competition to take the Ladies’ Half Pipe gold, ahead of American duo Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark, both former Olympic Half Pipe gold medallists, in 2006 and 2002 respectively. Bright had a terrible first run, scoring just 5.9. Starting first in the second round, she pulled out an almost flawless run with some spectacular jumps, for a score of 45.0.

Nobody who followed could top that score. Clark came closest, scoring a 42.2. She had to settle for the bronze, 0.2 points behind team-mate Teter, whose silver medal mark of 42.4 came on her first run.

Lindsey Vonn, from the USA, looked on course to make it two-for-two on the gold medal count after the Downhill leg of the Ladies’ Super Combined, leading the field by a third of a second. However she did not complete the slalom course after missing a gate, handing the gold to her close friend Maria Reisch.

An American who did go two-for-two was Julia Mancuso, who took silver, to add to her Downhill silver. The real story of the day though was Sweden’s Anja Paerson, who competed against the advice of her coaches, after her horrific fall in the Downhill on Wednesday. In seventh place after the first leg, Paerson stormed down the slalom course, and with Vonn’s fall, managed to cling on to the bronze medal.

Thursday saw more medals for Norway, who finally showed their real power in an event they have become renowned for over the years – the Biathlon. Emil Hegle Svendsen led for much of the Men’s 20km, but had some time to make up following the final shoot. He did so, claiming the gold by 9.5 seconds, to add to his silver from the 10km Sprint.

Fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was looking for his sixth Olympic gold. He had to settle for a share of the silver medal. Four shoots and 20km of skiing was not enough to separate him and Belarus’ Sergey Novikov, both recording identical times of 48 minutes 32 seconds.

There was less drama in the Women’s 15km version of the event, with Norway’s Tora Berger leading from start to finish, winning by over 20 seconds from Elena Khrustaleva, who claimed Kazakhstan’s first Olympic medal in 12 years.

The hosts put another gold on the board in Richmond, as Christine Nesbitt won the Ladies’ 1000m Speed Skating event. Her winning margin of 0.02 seconds was just enough to pip Holland’s Annette Gerritsen to the line. Gerritsen’s team-mate Laurine van Riessen took the bronze, just holding off veteran Canadian skater Kristina Groves.

At the Pacific Coliseum, we saw one of the shocks of the Games so far, as America’s Evan Lysacek stunned favourite Evgeni Plushenko to win the gold in the Men’s Figure Skating Free Skate. Plushenko was expected to take the victory for Russia and, despite being far from perfect, clearly thought he’d done enough following his second skate. The judges disagreed, handing the victory to Lysacek by 1.31 points, making him the first American man to win the Figure Skating gold since 1988 in Calgary.

The Curling competitions are well underway at the Vancouver Olympic Centre, and it was a mixed bag for Britain’s men yesterday. In two matches, they won one and lost one, but really should have walked away with two victories, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Switzerland with their final stone. Britain’s women crushed Russia 10-3 in their sole match yesterday.

Canada came very close to receiving a big shock in the Ice Hockey at Canada Hockey Place yesterday, as it took a shootout for them to defeat a determined Swiss side. A shootout goal from NHL star Sidney Crosby eventually gave the hosts the victory, but is unlikely to save them from a lengthy post-mortem in the Canadian press before Sunday’s huge game against the USA.

Day eight is relatively quiet one, with just four medal events taking place. The Men’s and Women’s Skeleton events conclude on Friday evening up at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Earlier in the day, we will see medals awarded in the Men’s Super-G, and Ladies’ Cross-Country 15km Pursuit.

Britain’s women will look to continue yesterday’s good performance in the Curling, with a morning tie versus Germany (5pm UK), followed by an evening session match against Japan (3am UK). Both matches will be available to watch via the BBC Red Button service.

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