VANCOUVER, British Columbia — So these won’t be remembered as the Vonn-couver Olympics after all. It’s looking like they will belong to the entire U.S. delegation instead.
The Americans clinched their best Winter Olympics on Friday when Katherine Reutter won silver in women’s 1,000 meter short-track speedskating. That was actually only the 33rd but one each is guaranteed to go to the men’s hockey team and the men’s team pursuit squad in speedskating. And the Americans later won a bronze in the 5,000-meter men’s short-track relay.
The 35 medals are one more than the United States won at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. If all goes well the next two days, the U.S. will lead the overall medals standings for only the second time, and the first since 1932 in Lake Placid.
The speedskaters locked up a top prize by knocking off Sven Kramer and the Dutch in a semifinal race.
Vonn was supposed to win all sorts of Alpine medals. Although she is going home with a gold and a bronze, she also had three DNFs for failing to finish her other events, including the slalom Friday.
Injuries certainly took a toll, from a broken right pinkie to a collection of bruises from chin to shin. But she refused to give up, which may be the bottom line on her performance at these games.
“I’m totally satisfied with everything I have done here,” Vonn said. “I went out there fighting — it just wasn’t my day. I didn’t want to give up, that’s my personality.”
Vonn’s close friend Maria Riesch won the event for her second gold in Vancouver and the ninth for Germany, taking over the lead in that category. Canada also got to nine when Charles Hamelin won the men’s 500-meter short-track race.
Wang Meng of China won Reutter’s race for her third gold medal of these games.
Also, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway added to his tremendous Olympics resume by anchoring Norway’s victory in the men’s biathlon relay.
This was his first gold medal since sweeping all four events in 2002, and the 11th medal of his career. That leaves him one behind Bjorn Daehlie’s Winter Games record of 12.
BOBSLED — Steve Holcomb and his sleek, black four-man bobsled known as the “Night Train” are halfway to gold.
Officially known as USA-1, the sled set track records on both its runs, putting it in first place going into the last two heats Saturday night.
The United States hasn’t won this race since 1948.
SPEEDSKATING — More agony for Sven Kramer, lots of joy for the United States.
The American men upset Kramer and the powerful Dutch team in one team pursuit semifinal, and the U.S. women knocked off Canada in their quarterfinal.
My first thought when we crossed the line was, ‘Oh, my God, we beat the Dutch!”’ said Brian Hansen. “And then I thought, ‘Oh, my God, we got a medal!”’
The men will face Canada in the gold-medal race today. The women will face defending Olympic champion Germany in a semifinal.
SHORT-TRACK — Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time, missed his chance to grab the record-breaking medal when he was disqualified in the finals of the 500 meters.
But Ohno did earn a bronze medal later in the 5,000-meter relay event, with Canada taking gold.
SLALOM — Riesch’s victory made the German women 3-of-5 in Alpine events. Vonn was waiting for her at the finish.
“Awesome,” she said. “I’m so proud of you.”
Riesch is competing at her first Olympics at age 25 after being sidelined by a season-ending injury four years ago.
Sarah Schleper was the top American, finishing 16th — after a team doctor sewed five stitches in her bloodied chin before her second run.
BIATHLON — The 36-year-old Bjoerndalen nailed all 10 of his targets, then skied across the finish waving a flag and flashing a big smile.
“I’m really satisfied with my race,” he said. “It was perfect.”
The Americans were 13th out of 19 countries.
WOMEN’S HOCKEY — The Canadian Olympic Committee basically said their women’s hockey team made only one mistake while swigging champagne and beer, and lighting cigars, on the ice, in celebration of their gold medal.
COC president Michael Chambers said nobody would’ve known or cared had it been contained in the locker room. But by going out in front of reporters, the party become somewhat controversial, especially with an 18-year-old player being seen drinking in a city where the legal age is 19.
“It was just us savoring the moment,” tournament MVP Meghan Agosta said. “We were not thinking about what we were doing, but we are responsible for what we did.”
CURLING — Canada was denied another gold medal on home ice, getting taken down by a Swedish team that captured its second consecutive gold medal in women’s curling.
In extra ends, no less!
China, competing in its first Olympics, beat Switzerland for the bronze.
SNOWBOARDING — With rain turning the event into hydroplaning, Nicolien Sauerbreij of the Netherlands won the women’s parallel giant slalom race.
Rider after top rider kept going out, unable to handle the strange conditions. About the only one who handled them consistently was Sauerbreij, who was her country’s flagbearer in 2002, but finished 24th.