VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Part ski jumping, part cross-country skiing — and almost all Americans on the podium.
Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane finished 1-2 in a Nordic combined race Thursday, a surprising medal haul in a sport that’s been part of the Winter Olympics since 1924 but never had an American medalist until these games.
Spillane became the first on Sunday — and now he has three, all silver. Demong’s victory is the first gold and his second overall. Both were part of a second-place finish in the team event Tuesday.
“I think it has been building over the past five to 10 years,” Demong said. “We knew we had three guys who could medal on any given day.”
This race involved ski jumping on the large hill, then a 10-kilometer race. Weather was another obstacle.
A driving, wet snow and tail wind late in the ski jumping portion ruined the distances for many of the top competitors, forcing them to start way back in the cross-country race. Demong and Spillane were among those to win the weather “lottery,” as World Cup leader Jason Lamy Chappuis of France called it.
GIANT SLALOM — Julia Mancuso was third fastest in Thursday’s second run of the giant slalom, which wasn’t enough to overcome a frustrating performance in the first run a day earlier.
“It just wasn’t enough,” said Mancuso, who finishes these Winter Olympics with a pair of silver medals.
Viktoria Rebensburg won the race, giving Germany a winner in it for the first time since 1956. She was highly unlikely to be the drought-buster as she’d never won a major event.
AERIALS — Jeret “Speedy” Peterson pulled out his one-of-a-kind “Hurricane” jump and landed the highest score of the 24 jumps, but his two-jump total came up just shy of Alexei Grishin of Belarus.
Peterson’s move wraps five twists into three somersaults as he vaults off the ramp and 50 feet in the air. Then, he stuck the landing.
Teammate Ryan St. Onge was fourth.
BOBSLEDDER DETAINED — American bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was detained and released by Canadian police after an argument with his fiancee, a person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.
Schuffenhauer, a silver medalist in 2002, resumed Olympic training Thursday and is expected to compete in today’s four-man bobsled.
Police released him after finding no evidence of a crime, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING — Bjoergen joined the growing trend of skiers pausing on the way to the finish to grab a flag. Like the others who did it, she was well ahead.
Norway won its first women’s relay gold since 1984, having settled for silver five times.
Bjoergen also won the individual sprint and 15K pursuit, and took bronze in the 10K freestyle. The Americans were 12th.
CURLING — It’ll be Sweden vs. Canada in the women’s finals.
The defending gold medalists from Sweden KO’d the reigning world champion Chinese in one semifinal, and the hosts took out Switzerland on a late shot.
SKIIER DEATH — C.R. Johnson, a professional free skier who competed in the Winter X Games, died Wednesday after he fell and hit his head on a rock outcropping while taking a run down a steep chute at California’s Squaw Valley.
Johnson, 26, was skiing with a group of friends when he tried to negotiate a “very, very tight, rocky area,” said Jim Rogers, a member of the Lake Tahoe-area resort’s ski patrol.
He fell face-first, then spun around and struck the back of his head on rocks. Johnson was wearing a helmet, but Rogers said the helmet took a serious blow.