Daily Briefing, Feb. 25
The U.S. Nordic combined team looks add to its historic haul this afternoon
The most dominant team in the Olympics might be Canada's men's curling
Kim Yu-Na leads the pack heading into tonight's free skate
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Gold to Kim Yu-na of South Korea, silver to Mao Asada of Japan, and a bronze for the ages to Canada's Joannie Rochette. That is E.M. Swift's prediction for the Ladies' figure skating title, the showcase event on a day which also features medals handed out in men's aerials, women's cross-country, Nordic combined, women's hockey and women's giant slalom.
What to Watch
(All times Eastern)
Canada skip Cheryl Bernard leads her squad against the Swiss in the women's curling semifinals (12:00 p.m.) at the Vancouver Olympic Center. The Canadians finished 8-1 in the round robin and beat the Swiss 5-4 in the opener. Sweden will play China in a rematch of last year's world championship final.
The second run for the Ladies' Giant Slalom, postponed yesterday due to inclement weather at Whistler Creekside, goes today at 12:30 p.m. Three Austrian skiers rank among the top four racers including Elisabeth Goergl, the first run leader by 0.02 (1:15.12). France's Taina Barioz is in second (1:15.14) followed by Austrians Kathrin Zettel (1:15.28) and Eva-Maria Brem (1:15.38). Defending champion Julia Mancuso was in 18th after being placed later in the race for her run because she was on the course when teammate Lindsey Vonn crashed. Sara Schleper posted the best time (1:16.19) of any American and sits 14th and 1.07 behind the leader from Austria.
The U.S. Nordic combined team looks add to its historic haul as the Large Hill individual event begins at 1:00 p.m. with the jumping. (The cross-country part of the event starts at 4:00 PM). Americans Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, who won silver in the normal hill individual event and team competition, are among the medal threats. France's Jason Lamy-Chappuis won the individual normal hill event earlier in the Games is the pre-race favorite. Other contenders include Austria's Felix Gottwald, Norway's Magnus Moan, Tino Edelmann and Eric Frenzel of Germany.
Finland and Sweden always seem to play big hockey games -- this was the men's final in Turin -- and today the women's hockey teams meet for the bronze medal (2:00 p.m.). These are the two best teams in the world behind Canada and the U.S. but they are far behind the leaders and far ahead of the also-rans. Each has a terrific goalie -- Noora Raty for Finland and Kim Martin for the Swedes. Raty, a freshman kinesiology student at Minnesota, stopped 45 shots against Canada. Martin led Sweden to a win over the U.S. in Turin, though she was shelled here by the U.S. and Canada. Pernilla Winberg is the top scorer for Sweden with five points.
Sweden has never won a medal in the women's cross-country 4x5 km relay (2:00 p.m.) but that could change today behind Charlotte Kalla (who has won gold and silver here) and Anna Olsson, Magdalena Pajala and Ida Ingemarsdotter. Germany, Norway and Russia, who won in Turin, are also contenders. Double gold winner Marit Bjoergen will ski for Norway. Morgan Arritola, Holly Brooks, Caitlin Compton and Kikkan Randall will ski for the U.S.
The most dominant team at the Olympics? It might be Canada's men's curling team. The undefeated squad (9-0) plays Sweden (5-4) in today's semifinals (5:00 p.m.). They are the first team to go unbeaten in the 10-team Olympic Round. Second-place Norway (7-2) plays third-place Switzerland in the other semifinal
Kim leads the pack heading into tonight's free skate at the Pacific Coliseum. "She was absolutely breathtaking, both in her technique and in her artistry," says Swift. Kim scored a season's best 78.50 points followed by Japan's Asada (73.78), Canada's Rochette (71.36) and Japan's Miki Ando (64.76). Americans Rachael Flatt (64.64) and Mirai Nagasu (63.76) round out the top six. All will skate in the fourth and final group tonight. The order (selected random among the top six) is as followed: Flatt, Ando, Kim, Asada, Rochette and Nagasu. The competition begins with the first group at 8 p.m.
China's Jia Zongyang led after qualifying in the men's aerials followed by American Ryan St. Onge, Switzerland's Thomas Lambert, Dmirti Dashinski of Belarus, and Jeret (Speedy) Peterson of the U.S. The 18-year-old Jia will be the final of the 12 skiers tonight (9:00 p.m.) on Cypress Mountain. World Cup champion Anton Kushnir of Belarus failed to make a clean landing and crashed in qualifying, opening up the competition. The crowd will be behind Canada's four-time World Champion Steve Omischl, who is looking for his first Olympic medal in his third Olympics.
Canada is going to win the gold medal game today (6:30 p.m.) in women's hockey. At least that's the opinion of members of Team Sweden and Team Finland. "The USA has a great team, but overall Canada is stronger," says Finland coach Pekka Hamalainen. "If I had to put money on one team, it would be Canada." Swedish goaltender Kim Martin agrees. "It was harder to play Canada," said Martin, who added if Canada and the U.S. played each other 10 times, the Canadians would win six games. Canada has won the last two Olympic medals, though the U.S. has taken the last two world championships. Five of the top eight scoring leaders are Canadian, led by Meghan Agosta with 14 points. The U.S.'s top scorers are Jenny Potter and Natalie Darwitz; each has 11 points. Defenseman Angela Ruggiero is the team's pulse and physical force. Here's one interesting stat to keep in mind: The U.S. has scored 40 goals on 183 shots during the Games for a 21.86 efficiency tournament, the best in the tournament. Canada is second at 19.91 (46 goals, 231 shots). The game will be broadcast on MSNBC.
By The Numbers
3.6 million -- Canadian viewers who watched Canada's semifinal victory against Finland in women's Olympic hockey on Monday.
3.5 million -- Viewers who watched Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate to their ice-dance gold.
5 -- Gold medals for Sweden in the men's cross-country skiing relay, the most golds in the event for any country. Sweden won the men's cross-country skiing 4x10 km relay Wednesday.
Quote of the Day, Part I
My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset. I skied the second lap and I f----- up today. I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter Northhug and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I f----- up. By the way, Tiger Woods is a really good man.
Quote of the Day, Part II
Not too bad. Of course you hope to go into the night in a different way. I wish I would have been in the Holland Heineken House or at medal plaza before I went to bed.
What We're Reading On The Web
1. It's Good To Be Alive (by Christie Blatchford, The Globe and Mail) Tremendous piece. Read it.
2. Mom-To-be becomes most pregnant Olympian Ever (by Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times) Curling, for two.
3. On A Rare Night, Canada Gathered To Watch One Game (by Stephen Brunt, The Globe and Mail) Nothing feels better in Canada than beating the Russians.