With nine medals, U.S. on record pace

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

AP Sports WriterSALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- At first, the idea that Americans could win 20 medals at the Winter Olympics seemed farfetched.

Now it appears conservative. Heck, the way things are going, the hosts might wind up with 30.

Nine medals have been draped around the necks of U.S. athletes through four days of competition, with Tuesday's haul including three: gold for Casey FitzRandolph and bronze for Kip Carpenter in the men's 500-meter speedskating, and silver for Travis Mayer in moguls.

So, even with skiers Jonny Moseley and Picabo Street unable to add to their medal collection Tuesday, the United States is still rapidly closing in on its record of 13 and could shatter the goal of 20 set in April by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Figure skater Todd Eldredge, a six-time national champion, isn't likely to add to the count after falling on his triple axel and botching the quadruple jump in the short program.

American Tim Goebel has a better chance as his mistake-free program left him third. Russia's Alexei Yagudin came out of the first round on top, followed by Japan's Takeshi Honda.

The action on the ice was overshadowed by the controversy over the pairs title won by Russia even though most observers felt the Canadians were better.

Canada's Olympic delegation demanded an investigation and the International Skating Union said Tuesday it would conduct a rare "internal assessment" of the way the two performances were judged.

The United States leads the overall medals count with three gold, four silver and two bronze. Austria is second with seven medals while Norway is the only country with as many gold as the Americans.

There are six chances to add to the total Wednesday, starting with 120-kilometer ski jumping. Also to be decided around midday are men's 10-kilometer biathlon sprint, the women's 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint and men's combined slalom.

Wednesday night events include finals in the 1,500-meter women's short track speedskating and women's luge singles.

-- MEN'S SPEEDSKATING: FitzRandolph's path to a gold medal was supposed to be super-fast laps. Nobody said anything about dodging orange cones.

Carpenter accidentally booted one into FitzRandolph's lane. It knocked off his right clapskate, causing him to wobble. He briefly dragged his left hand along the ice to steady himself, yet still crossed the finish 0.03 seconds ahead of defending Olympic gold medalist Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan.

"To do it here in America, before so many friends and family and in these times, makes it perfect," said FitzRandolph, America's first 500 champion since Eric Heiden won all five events in 1980.

Carpenter grabbed third by 0.02.

"I just looked up and saw the number '3' and knew I'd won a bronze," he said.

-- FIGURE SKATING: Yagudin did his part. World champion Evgeny Plushenko didn't, meaning there's not likely to be a Russian rivalry in the long program Thursday.

Plushenko missed his quadruple toe loop, then blew off his combination jump. Yagudin charmed the crowd and judges by scooping up and releasing ice shavings at the start, then getting more exciting as he went along.

American Michael Weiss was eighth, just ahead of Eldredge.

The skating world, meanwhile, was still buzzing about the pairs judging dilemma.

"You really need to analyze the entire sport from top to bottom and see how something like this could happen," said Scott Hamilton, the 1984 gold medalist who was an NBC commentator at Monday night's event.

-- WOMEN'S DOWNHILL: Street's performance Tuesday was a going-away present to herself and her fans. She kissed the ground before she started, then finished 16th in the final run of her career.

The throng waiting below didn't care, applauding her courage in returning from devastating injuries to both legs and trying to become the first American woman to win three Olympic skiing medals.

"This is the best day in my ski racing career and it's because of you," she told the crowd.

France's Carole Montillet, who had never won a World Cup downhill, won the gold with an almost flawless run, topping Isolde Kostner of Italy and Renate Goetschl of Austria.

-- MEN'S MOGULS: Jonny Moseley was the star of the show, drawing raves for his perfectly executed Dinner Roll move. Yet all it got him was fourth place.

Janne Lahtela of Finland, who prefers a more traditional style, won the gold and Mayer was the surprise silver medalist. Richard Gay of France won bronze.

"It's something I never expected, that's for sure," Mayer said.

Moseley's signature move didn't earn bonus points because it's not considered the most difficult jump.

"To me, creativity is more than 50 to 75 percent of what freestyle is based on," said Moseley, who won gold in 1998.

-- WOMEN'S HOCKEY: The reigning Olympic champion U.S. team scored more goals (10) than Germany had shots (eight) in a shutout of the bottom-seeded team.

Natalie Darwitz, a high school senior, scored two goals, Karyn Bye had two goals and two assists and Cammi Granato had one of each in what amounted to a warmup game for the Americans.

Finland beat China 4-0 and can clinch a berth in the medal round with a victory on Thursday over Germany. The U.S. team next plays China on Thursday.

-- MEN'S HOCKEY: Germany beat Latvia 4-1 to complete an impressive run to the final round. Austria defeated Slovakia 3-2, but neither will advance.

The U.S. men will face Finland on Friday when the final round opens.

-- CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Bente Skari won Norway's first individual Olympic gold medal in the women's 10-kilometer race, edging Olga Danilova of Russia. Julija Tchepalova of Russia took the bronze.

Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia won the men's 15-kilometer race, with Frode Estil of Norway taking the silver and Jaak Mae of Estonia capturing the bronze.

-- SKI JUMPING: Alan Alborn was the higher-ranked of two Americans advancing to the finals of the 120-meter ski jump, finishing eighth. Teammate Clint Jones also made the finals.

Leading the pack was Poland's Adam Malysz, the bronze medal winner at 90 meters. Simon Ammann of Switzerland, the 90-meter gold medalist, and defending champion Kazuyoshi Funaki of Japan were also in the hunt for a medal Wednesday.

-- WOMEN'S LUGE: Halfway through the competition, American Becky Wilczak was one spot short of a medal. Two-time defending world champion Sylke Otto leads a possible German sweep at Wednesday's final.

-- CURLING: The U.S. women's curling team opened its Olympic campaign with two victories: 8-7 over Japan, then 6-5 against Sweden.

In men's play, Canada ran its record to 3-0 with a 9-4 victory over Finland.

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