Daily briefing, Feb. 22
The Canadian women's hockey team looks to take some sting from the men's loss
The U.S. women's hockey team will face Sweden in the first of two semifinals
With Simon Ammann out, Austria is a big favorite in the team ski jump competition
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- BLACK SUNDAY, ON ICE
That's how the Toronto Globe and Mail's Web site described a Super Sunday of men's hockey that turned into full cardiac arrest for Canada with a loss to the U.S. The good news for the home country is the women's hockey team -- winners of the last two Olympic titles -- are back on the ice today for a women's semifinal game against Finland. It's part of day that includes medals in cross-country skiing, ice dancing, and ski jumping.
What to Watch
(All times Eastern)
Austria is a big favorite in the team ski jump competition (1 p.m.), especially with Switzerland's double-gold medalist Simon Ammann not taking part in the competition. (The Swiss only have two ski jumpers here). Norway, Finland and Germany will be chasing the Austrians, who feature rising 20-year-old star Gregor Schlierenzauer. The American team consists of Nick Alexander, Taylor Fletcher, Peter Frenette, and Anders Johnson.
Germany, Italy and Sweden are the teams to watch in the cross-country Ladies Team Sprint. (1:45 p.m.). Sweden's Charlotte Kalla and Anna Haag have already won medals at these Games. The team of Kikkan Randall and Caitlin Compton will compete for the U.S.
Now it gets interesting in the women's hockey tournament:
The United States meets Sweden (3 p.m.) in the first of two semifinals. Four years ago, the Swedes knocked the Americans out of the Olympics in a penalty shootout, but they are unlikely to see a repeat of that upset. The United States has outscored its competition, 31-1 in this tournament and Canada pounded the Swedes 13-1 earlier this week.
Canada has never lost to Finland in Olympic play and tonight (face-off at 8) should be much of the same. The Canadians are led by the tournament's top scorer Meghan Agosta, whose 12 points is one ahead of Natalie Darowitz of the U.S. Canada has scored 41 goals and allowed just two during this tournament and needs just five goals to tie its all-time record for most goals (46). The U.S. blanked Finland 6-0 during the qualification round.
In one of the more memorable stories from the Turin Games, American freestyle aerials men's competitor Jeret Peterson, the gold-medal favorite, was sent home in after a bar fight during the Games. He said he's since given up alcohol and has been aiming for this moment for some time. Peterson's show-stopping trick is called "the Hurricane," which involves five spins and three somersaults. He said he will attempt it here. Americans Ryan St. Onge, Matt DePeters, Dylan Ferguson will also ski in qualifications. Belarus' Anton Kushnir, who has won a medal in all six World Cup events this season, and China's Qi Guangpu and Jia Zonyang are the favorites. Australia's David Morris and Canada's Steve Omischl also should be considered. The qualification round begins today at 9 p.m. The top 16 finishers in qualifications will advance to the finals on Feb. 25.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are in second place following the original dance portion of ice dance, which concludes tonight (7:45) at the Pacific Coliseum. The Americans have an overall score of 108.55 and trail leaders Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by 2.6 points. The Russian pair of Oksana Dominina and Maxim Shabalin, who led after the first day of competition, are now third with a score of 106.60. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the silver medalists from Turin, are in fourth. Davis and White will skate first in the final group of skaters while Belbin and Agosto will go fourth in the final group. SI's E.M. Swift predicts gold for Virtue and Moir and silver for Davis and White.
Italy, Russia and Germany are the favorites the men's cross-country free team sprint (4:25 p.m.), but watch out for Norway with Petter Northug and Oeystein Pettersen, who can salvage a disappointing Olympics. The U.S. is an outside medal threat with Andrew Newell and Torin Koos.
The United States meets Canada and China in men's curling competition (early matches start at noon; evening matches begin at 10 p.m.). Based on its round-robin record, the U.S. (2-5) will not advance to the medal round.
By The Numbers
15.6 -- Percentage of votes received by former figure skater Tonya Harding in a Seattle Times.com readers poll (905 voters) asking "Who's Your Favorite Past Winter Olympics Personality." Harding finished third in the vote, ahead of Scott Hamilton (11.2 percent), Michelle Kwan (9.9), and Peggy Fleming (9.9) among others. Former U.S. Olympic skier Picabo Street led the poll at 15.9 percent.
45 -- Shots on U.S. goalie Ryan Miller by Canada last night at Canada's Hockey Place. He stopped 42 in the 5-3 win.
Quote of the Day
"I feel pretty old. Having already quit once I came back for a reason -- and this was the reason." -- American Alpine skier Bode Miller, after winning the men's super-combined.
What We're Reading On The Web
1. Brodeur's Mistake Sinks Canadians (by Bruce Arthur, National Post): Rough ice ahead for Canada. Rough ice, and maybe worse.
2. Canada's hockey stars falter vs. U.S., as "Groan, the Podium" takes hold (by Cam Cole, The Vancouver Sun): From "Own The Podium" to "Blown the Podium?"
3. Canada Stumbles As U.S. Shows Its Speed (by Roy MacGregor, The Globe and Mail): More woe, Canada.