Ohno skates closer to sprint medal

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Apolo Anton Ohno had a short night at the short track. It was good enough to give him a shot at another medal.

Ohno safely advanced from his heat in the 500 meters Wednesday and will go to the final night of competition with two chances to add to the bronze he has already won at these Winter Olympics.

Even though he was heavily favored to move on, Ohno didn't take anything for granted in the shortest of short track events. His relief was apparent when he crossed the line, his right fist in the air and a big smile just above his soul patch.

Forty-three seconds after the gun went off, he was done for the night. This was his only race.

"It's my last week of the games and it's been a long time since I enjoyed a 500 meters like that," he said.

The 23-year-old star, who has the only American short track medal of these games, moved on to Saturday's quarterfinals. He's also part of the 5,000 relay team, which already qualified for the final.

The women's 3,000 relay was the only medal event on Wednesday. South Korea picked up its fourth short track gold of the Turin Games, while Canada claimed the silver. Italy received the bronze when China was disqualified for impeding in a turn.

The Americans won the consolation final to finish fourth overall.

Figure skating final tonight

Among the figure skating cognoscenti, the best of the women pursuing Olympic gold are identified by a single name: Sasha, Irina.

The two figure skating leaders -- American Sasha Cohen and Russian Irina Slutskaya -- will bid for the gold medal today. Cohen's teenage U.S. teammates, Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes,both are in the top seven heading into the free skate competition.

U.S. curling loses semifinal

Pete Fenson couldn't lead the United States to the Olympic gold medal game, losing to Canada 11-5 in the curling semifinals.

Now the U.S. skip could leave Italy with a bronze.

Canada clinched at least a silver medal and forced the Americans to play in the consolation game for third place. That would be the first Olympic curling medal -- men's or women's -- for the United States.

But a loss on Friday and Fenson is going home empty-handed. The United States already saw its highly touted women's team fail to qualify for the medal round.

Canada (7-3) wrapped it up with a whopping five points in the ninth end -- one short of the Olympic record -- when the Americans (6-4), forced to play from behind, had to take chances. The U.S. players quickly conceded the match.

Canada will play for the gold on Friday night against Finland (8-2), which scored on the game's final throw to beat the British 4-3.

In the women's semifinals, Switzerland beat Canada 7-5 and Sweden edged Norway 5-4.

Swede wins slalom

Anja Paerson finally won her Olympic gold medal and beat her longtime rival in the process with a pair of dominant runs through floodlit fog in the women's slalom.

Janica Kostelic of Croatia, whose six medals in two Olympics are the most by any women's Alpine skier, failed to win a medal for the first time in her last seven events. She was fourth.

Paerson, a 24-year-old Swede, came into the slalom with four Olympic medals, two at these games, but only one silver and three bronzes -- no gold. And she was an awful 12th in her last event, the super-G.

OTHER EVENTS

* Evelyne Leu of Switzerland won the gold medal in Olympic aerials, adding the last missing piece to an already stellar career.

Leu, whose last appearance at the Olympics was marked by a world-record performance in qualifying but a bust in finals, saved her best stuff for the right night at the Turin Games.

She landed a triple backflip with three twists on her second of two jumps.

* Cindy Klassen added a gold medal to the bronze and two silvers she's already earned at the Olympics, winning the women's 1,500-meter speedskating with a dominant performance ahead of Canadian teammate Kristina Groves.

* Chandra Crawford upstaged two of her better-known countrywomen and pulled off an upset in the women's 1.1km sprint Wednesday, skating across the finish for Canada's first cross country gold medal at Turin.

-- The Associated Press

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