U.S. medal quest takes holiday off
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY -- And on the 10th day, they rested -- at least from climbing the medal stand.
The U.S. Winter Olympic team, following an unprecedented stretch of at least one medal for nine straight days at its first home games in 22 years, didn't win a gold, silver or bronze Monday -- appropriately enough, a national holiday.
The American hockey team showed it may help add to the record U.S. haul of medals -- 18 and counting -- with an 8-1 victory over Belarus. The win, coupled with a loss by Russians, assured the Americans of winning their group and meeting Germany in Wednesday's quarterfinal.
Led by John LeClair's two goals, the U.S. team finished its round robin pool play with a mark of 2-0-1. LeClair has scored five goals in three games for the Americans, who failed to win a medal in 1998; Belarus is the only team still playing without any NHL forwards.
The U.S. team scored five third-period goals, two each by Scott Young and Bill Guerin, as Belarus dropped to 0-3.
"We feel we can beat any team in this town," U.S. forward Jeremy Roenick said. "We dominated defensively in the first three games. We have a lot more to do in the next three games."
Russia, despite its powerful lineup of NHL stars, was upset 3-1 by Finland. The Finns, led by a goal from captain Teemu Selanne, wound up second in the U.S. group with a 2-1 mark, while the Russians (1-1-1) were third.
In the other group, Canada -- behind a pair of Mario Lemieux goals -- tied the Czechs 3-3. Dominick Hasek stopped 33 shots for the Czechs, who -- like the Canadians -- finished their first three games 1-1-1.
The other quarterfinal matchups: Finland-Canada, the Czechs-Russia, and Sweden-Belarus.
The Germans, on a slow day where only four medals were awarded, took golds in the biathlon relay and the team ski jumping.
Germany remained atop the medals table as the Olympics started its final week with 24 (8 gold, 10 silver, 6 bronze). Next was the United States with 18 (4-7-7), followed by Norway with 14 (8-6-0).
And now, the solution to the figure skating judging controversy: more judges!
The existing judging system in figure skating would be scrapped under a revolutionary proposal made Monday by the president of the International Skating Union.
The plan calls for 14 judges, rather than the current nine, with seven of the scores thrown out. Judges would not know which scores count, reducing the possibility of the judging improprieties that have rocked the Salt Lake City Games.
Currently, skaters begin with a base mark of 6.0, getting deductions for mistakes and missed elements. They can also lose points simply for the aesthetics of their programs.
The new plan would assign point values to each technical element -- including jumps, spins, footwork, spirals. A double axel could be worth two points; a more difficult triple, three points.
The reform package needs the approval of the entire ISU, which has a June meeting in Kyoto, Japan. It was unclear how quickly the proposal could be implemented.
After sailing 405 feet, German ski jumper Martin Schmitt turned and stared at the scoreboard. He waited 10 seconds ... 20 seconds ... 30 seconds ... and discovered he had won the gold medal.
Schmitt was the last to leap for the German 120-kilometer ski jumping team, and his jump propelled them to the gold medal by one-tenth of a point.
Finland, by the narrowest of margins in the event's 14-year Olympic history, settled for a silver, while Slovenia won the bronze for its first medal of these games.
What was Schmitt thinking during the wait?
"Please, please, please, please let me win," Schmitt recalled later.
The young American team wound up in 11th place.
Australia's Alisa Camplin won the gold in the women's aerials, an event where none of the American medal hopefuls qualified for the finals.
Veronica Brenner of Canada won the silver, and Deidra Dionne of Canada won the bronze.
The first-time Olympian won Australia's second gold in Salt Lake City, following the unlikely victory by teammate Steven Bradbury in the short track speedskating. She had never won a World Cup event, and has suffered nine concussions since taking up the sport four years ago.
"This is the craziest thing that has ever happened to me," she said.
New location, same result.
The German team in the 30-kilometer biathlon relay repeated its gold medal performance of four years ago, using impeccable shooting over the final half of the race to claim its prize.
Norway won the silver, finishing 30.6 seconds back, while Russia won the bronze.
The Germans, with two of its four-member Nagano team back in Salt Lake City, was heavily favored. The United States finished last out of 15 teams.
The U.S. women clinched a spot in the semifinals with an 11-2 win over Norway, running their record in round-robin play to 6-3. Joining the Americans in the semis were Switzerland and Canada; the Swiss defeated Canada, 6-5, on Monday.
In the men's bracket, the U.S. team was eliminated with a 7-6 loss to Britain, its record dropping to 3-6. Making the semifinals were Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden; Canada defeated Denmark 8-3, Switzerland knocked off Garmany 10-4, while Norway beat Sweden 9-8.