Bode Miller gets silver, fellow American Weibrecht bronze in super-G; US medal count hits 20

By Jaime Aron, AP
Friday, February 19, 2010

Bode Miller leads US to silver, bronze in super-G

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Two races, two medals. Bode Miller is putting together one heck of a Vancouver Olympics.

Miller picked up a silver in the super-G Friday to go with the bronze he won in the downhill.

Andrew Weibrecht, who’d never finished higher than 10th in a World Cup race, finished right behind Miller to pile another medal onto a growing pile by the Americans.

The U.S. Alpine team already has collected six medals, their most ever, and we’re not even halfway done in the mountains.

Overall, the U.S. delegation has collected 20 medals, nearly matching its total from Turin (25). With 54 events and nine days left, the Americans could challenge their record stash of 34 medals set at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

“Part of it might be that we are on North American soil,” Weibrecht said. “(We) get better results when we’re at home, or close to home, better food and lodgings.”

With six gold, six silver and eight bronze, the Americans have practically lapped the field. Germany is second in overall medals with 11.

Norway has the second-most golds with five, boosted by victories in the first two events decided Friday. Aksel Lund Svindal won the super-G and Marit Bjoergen won the women’s 15-kilometer pursuit. Bjoergen also became the first winner of multiple gold medals in Vancouver and the first with three medals.

The only other medals to be decided Friday were in men’s and women’s skeleton.

Alas, all is not well for the U.S. delegation. There’s a crisis in curling and a halfpipe medalist headed home.

Scotty Lago volunteered to leave the Olympics after risque pictures of him wearing a Team USA T-shirt and his bronze medal showed up on the Internet. The U.S. Olympics Committee puts athletes through a program to avoid such situations. Lago apologized to the USOC and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

The U.S. men’s curling team changed its skip in hopes of changing its luck after falling to 0-4, the only winless club in the field.

John Shuster, a bronze winner in 2006, was benched for the match Friday against France and seemed to understand. After losing Thursday he said, “I’ve let my teammates and USA Curling down.”

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, the team’s honorary captain, showed up Friday and joked, “Oh, yeah, I’ll go in. I’ll be ready, man.”

At least the women curlers finally broke the ice, so to speak.

Skip Debbie McCormick bumped out a Russian stone with her last rock, giving the U.S. a 6-4 victory — its first after an 0-3 start that had put her stewardship in jeopardy, too.


When Miller took bronze in the downhill, he was all smiles at the end of the race. He looked worn out this time.

Miller let out a big breath of air and quickly shook his head. Then he leaned forward, resting his helmet on forearms still locked atop his poles. Once his lungs stopped burning, he took out his mouthpiece and gave a little fist pump.

“I was lucky today,” he said. “I could just as easily been fifth or sixth.”

With his fourth career medal, Miller regained the title of most decorated American Alpine skier, a day after Julia Mancuso tied him for that honor. (The title could keep changing hands with the men’s super combined and slalom still to come; Mancuso has two events left and Lindsey Vonn has three.) Also, this is the first time two Americans got medals in the same Alpine event since brothers Phil and Steve Mahre went 1-2 in slalom at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.

Weibrecht found himself in first place after his run, something that had never happened before. He said he “refused to believe until the race was over that I was in with a medal.”

“I’ve been knocking on the door all year,” Weibrecht said. “To come out here and do it just feels unbelievable.”

Svindal made it four golds for Norwegians in the seven times this race has been part of the Olympic program.

The race was marred by more horrific wipeouts. The most serious involved 40-year-old Patrik Jaerbyn flying through the air, landing on his back and bouncing hard on the icy surface before sliding to a stop, his face bloodied.


The defending gold medalists from Sweden avenged a monumental upset against outmanned Belarus — and avoided another one.

The Swedes led 3-0, then were up by only one goal with 5:10 remaining. A goal with 10.4 seconds left padded the final margin.

Belarus has only two NHL players, Sweden 19.


Two Swiss competitors have withdrawn from events following scary crashes, including a strong medal contender.

Swiss driver Daniel Schmid, who was not a medal favorite, pulled out of the two-man and four-man bob for “safety reasons” after two practice crashes. On Friday, his sled overturned during training and his brakeman was taken from the track in an ambulance, then flown to Vancouver for observation. A team doctor said there were no serious injuries.

Earlier, Swiss-1 driver Beat Hefti, a World Cup champion, withdrew from two-man because of a concussion in a crash Wednesday. He hasn’t decided whether to race in the four-man, which starts next Friday.


Normal hill winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland can keep using the modified bindings that anchor his boots to his skis.

He can keep his gold medal, too.

The International Ski Federation dismissed complaints by the Austrians that Ammann was breaking the rules, and gave him permission to stick with the equipment for Saturday’s large hill event.

Wearing his now-controversial equipment, Ammann flew past his main rivals in the qualifying session Friday. He jumped even farther in the trial round, then playfully turned his skis around when holding them up to the camera to hide the bindings.

“I am in such awesome shape, it makes me a bit nervous,” he said.


Having already won a pair of halfpipe gold medals, Shaun White would love the chance to double his collection at the 2014 Olympics.

White said he’d consider competing in halfpipe and slopestyle if that event was added to the mix for the Sochi Games.

In slopestyle, riders do huge tricks while going down the mountain and through “features” — rails, big jumps and bumps. At ski resorts, slopestyle is widely thought of as an easier way for amateur snowboarders to do cool tricks than on a halfpipe.

White likes the idea of being in the spotlight a little longer. Odds are NBC would like to have him around more, too.

“It’s a strange thing going to the Olympics, where so many people have four, five events and we just have the one big night,” he said.


On his first day as an Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek said he’s not even thinking about retirement.

Defending his world championship next month in Turin? Well, that’s still to be determined.

The 24-year-old American also said he was a “little disappointed” his long program was criticized by silver medalist and reigning champion Evgeni Plushenko. He added that Plushenko congratulated him with “a strong handshake.”


Bjoergen pulled away midway through the freestyle portion of the race and was never threatened the rest of the way.

Anna Haag of Sweden won a three-way sprint for the silver, with favorite Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland getting bronze in a photo finish.

Morgan Arritola was the top American, finishing 38th.


Yes, even at the Olympics, folks took a break to watch Tiger Woods talk Friday.

Snowboarder Shaun White says people will soon realize Woods made mistakes but isn’t such a bad guy. Figure skater Evan Lysacek thinks Woods’ remarks offer a teaching moment on how to handle one’s self. Skier Julia Mancuso questioned his sincerity on Twitter: “come on Tiger! give us some reality here.”


Bidding for the ultimate Vancouver Olympics souvenir — the site of the Alpine events, and other assets of resort operator Intrawest — has been delayed until next Friday.

The auction was supposed to be Friday. But creditors pushed it back, hoping to reach a last minute deal. Creditors are trying to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the company’s owner, New York hedge fund Fortress.


The task force overseeing security for the Winter Olympics has done a good job protecting athletes and their families. They’re also keeping a close eye on each other.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 11 officers have been sent home for breaking rules, including two officers whose cases are being investigated by Vancouver police.

The security task force includes more than 4,000 members of the Canadian military and more than 6,000 police officers from across Canada.


All quiet on the doping front.

As of Thursday night, 1,363 doping tests had been conducted — about two-third before competition, one-third after they competed — and there’d been only one violation. A female Russian hockey player was reprimanded but escaped a ban after testing positive for a stimulant before the games.

“Clearly,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “it’s good news if athletes aren’t doping.”

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