2010 Winter Olympics: second weekend notes

Sunday was a huge day at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver for Team USA following a bit of a disappointing Saturday. Let’s take a look at how the Americans fared overall on the second full weekend of action.

…After years of frustration, and following a disastrous performance at Turino in 2006, Bode Miller won his first career gold medal in the super combined on Sunday. Following the downhill portion of the event, the American skied an aggressive slalom run that proved to be the deciding factor in delivering him the elusive gold. That capped a fruitful weekend for the 32-year-old Miller, who took the silver in men’s super-G on Friday, proclaiming afterwards that American skiers are proving that they are “just much better than everybody else” during the Vancouver Games. You have to love Bode’s brashness — and he has a point. The United States has collected its most Alpine medals at a single Winter Games, surpassing the five at the Sarajevo Games in 1984. Miller himself now has three medals in Vancouver (he won bronze in downhill) and five for his career. His five Alpine medals tie him for the second-most by any man in Olympic history, behind Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has eight.

…If you thought the Canadian men’s hockey team was feeling pressure coming into this Olympic hockey tournament, it was amped up after the club’s subpar effort against the Swiss last Thursday. But after Sunday night’s loss to the United States, every player on the squad will feel an even bigger burden in trying to get their country the gold in its pinnacle sport. The Americans jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead less than a minute into the game, and even though the Canadians quickly struck back, Team USA simply looked more prepared to play from the start. The win was huge as the Americans are off until Wednesday, while the Canadians are back on the ice Tuesday — forced to play an extra game in their quest to win gold.

…Speedskater Shani Davis took home a silver in the 1500 meter event on Saturday night, but it was considered a disappointment as he is the world-record holder in the event. The Netherlands’ Mark Tuitert scored the shocking upset and took home gold. Davis had won gold last Wednesday in the 1000 meter — a distance in which he also holds the record. It is the second straight Olympics that Davis has settled for silver in the 1500. The 27-year-old said after the race that failing to win gold again in the 1500 means that he’ll definitely be back for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. Many kudos to Tuitert, though, as the 29-year-old was considered an afterthought on a Dutch team stacked with talented skaters.

…Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn captured bronze in the women’s super-G on Saturday, and she revealed afterwards that she “didn’t ski as aggressively” as she could have after getting through the most difficult sections of the course unscathed. Vonn had wrapped up the seasonlong World Cup super-G title by winning three of the five completed races, so it was surprising to see her take bronze. Vonn still has the giant slalom and the slalom races left to ski in Vancouver.

…Short-track speedskating star Apolo Anton Ohno also took home a bronze on Saturday — and he made history in the process. Ohno became the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian, surpassing Bonnie Blair, as he rallied on the last lap in the 1000-meter final and collected his seventh career medal. He now has two gold, two silver and three bronze medals in three Olympics, and he has two events remaining at these Games — the 500 and 5000 relay.

…A final note from the men’s figure skating competition: American Evan Lysacek is still the gold medalist, despite the complaints of Russian runner-up Evgeni Plushenko and his country’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. I agree with Putin’s assessment that Plushenko’s performance was gold-worthy — but so was Lysacek’s. Quad or not, Plushenko didn’t have his best landings, while Lysacek skated better than the rest of the competition.

Enjoy the final week of the Games!

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