2010 Winter Olympics: opening weekend notes

After a riveting celebration that was the Opening Ceremony at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver on Friday evening, the 2010 Winter Olympics kicked off in high gear on Saturday with the first medals of the Games being awarded. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights for the United States team through opening weekend action.

…Olympic veteran Apolo Anton Ohno claimed a silver medal Saturday night in the men’s short track 1500-meter final, tying Bonnie Blair for the most career medals by an American Winter Olympian. Ohno won the sixth medal of his career when two South Koreans collided on the final turn, preventing a South Korean sweep and allowing Ohno to nab second place. Nineteen-year-old fellow American J.R. Celski also benefited from the crash, claiming bronze. It marked the first time two U.S. skaters shared a podium in an Olympic short track event. Ohno now owns two medals of each color for his career, and he eclipsed Eric Heiden as the most decorated American male at a Winter Games. In addition, he now owns the mark for most short track medals since the sport joined the Games in 1992. A great way for Ohno to kick off the American party.

Hannah Kearney put behind a disastrous Turin experience in 2006 and won the first gold of the Games for the United States in a rainy, windy women’s moguls finals, edging out defending Olympic champion Jenn Heil of host Canada. Fellow American Shannon Bahrke claimed the bronze. Heil herself had completed a spectacular gold-worthy run and was waiting in the finish area while Kearney closed out the event — with a spectacular run of her own that bested Heil’s mark. Kearney failed to qualify for the final in Italy during the last Olympic Games despite being a gold-medal favorite. On Saturday night, she found her redemption.

…Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong didn’t make American history at the Nordic combined on Sunday. But Johnny Spillane did. Spillane won the United States’ first Olympic medal in a sport dominated by Europeans, claiming the silver in a race won by France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis — who ironically was born in Missoula, Mont., but has always raced for the French team. Spillane and Lodwick alternately led for much of the race, and Spillane looked primed to win gold. But Chappuis overtook the American to win the event featuring one jump on a normal hill and a 10-km cross-country race. Lodwick, the reigning world champion, finished fourth while Demong finished sixth, giving the Americans three of the top six spots.

…The surprise of the Games on the American side thus far came on Sunday night in the men’s moguls finals, where Bryon Wilson took home a surprising bronze medal. Wilson displayed a majestic double-full twisting back flip in the air and skied clean throughout his fast run down the course. Wilson salvaged a disappointing day for the U.S. squad, which had four skiers in the finals.

…On the never-ending Lindsey Vonn injury front, the Alpine skier underwent a thorough slalom training session on Sunday that went better than she anticipated, according to SI.com. Nursing a bruised right shin, Vonn said that she feels “more confident now” despite still feeling pain. The two-time overall World Cup champion has been branded the American face of these Games. The only question remains as to how effective she can be in all of her events in managing the pain in the shin.

...Monday's can't-miss event: Men’s Downhill, the glamour event on the Alpine schedule, featuring our favorite party animal Bode Miller.

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