Olympic Daily News - Monday, February 10th

The Sports NetworkFebruary 10, 2014 

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch successfully defended her gold medal in the women's super combined Monday at the Sochi Olympics, while Julia Mancuso claimed bronze for the United States.

Hoefl-Riesch was fifth after the downhill at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center but made up the deficit in the slalom. She posted the third-best slalom split and finished with a total time of 2 minutes, 34.62 seconds.

The German now has three Olympic medals -- all gold. Hoefl-Riesch won the super combined and slalom event four years ago.

Austria's Nicole Hosp, eighth after the downhill, won silver and finished .40 seconds behind Hoefl-Riesch.

Mancuso, who finished second to Hoefl-Riesch in 2010, grabbed the early lead with a terrific downhill run and did just enough in the slalom to earn her fourth Olympic medal, tops all-time for American women in alpine skiing.

The 29-year-old American carried a lead of .47 seconds into the slalom and finished the combined with a time of 2:35.15. She was just .10 seconds ahead of Slovenia's Tina Maze.

"I knew I just had to give my best shot and it sure didn't feel good," Mancuso said of the slalom. "I definitely had moments in my mind where I was thinking, 'This is not going to be good enough but keep fighting.' I knew where to let it run on that last pitch and surprise! I looked up and got a medal."

Mancuso has won at least one medal in the last three Winter Olympics. She won the giant slalom at the Turin Olympics in 2006 and added a downhill silver four years later.

Her four-medal haul is tied for second place all-time among American women at the Winter Games behind only speedskater Bonnie Blair's six.

"I just love being here at the Olympics," she said. "It's so much fun and I get really energized. I got a lot of energy from watching the men's race yesterday, and it was just a perfect example of what I always think: anything is possible at the Olympics, you can never count anyone out and you always have to just do your best."

Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook of the U.S. were both eliminated after failing to complete the downhill course. American Leanne Smith was 20th after the downhill, but was disqualified after missing a gate in the slalom.

Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon was 21st after downhill but failed to complete her slalom run.

BILODEAU REPEATS WITH MOGULS GOLD

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - As expected, it came down to Canadians Alex Bilodeau and Mikael Kingsbury for the men's moguls gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.

Experience beat youth.

Bilodeau captured his second straight gold medal in the event, beating Kingsbury in what could also be viewed as a passing of the torch for Team Canada.

Bilodeau and Kingsbury had the top two scores in qualifying, setting up a potential battle between the world's top-two ranked moguls skiers. It in fact came down to that, with the 21-year-old Kingsbury going last in the third final.

Staring at Bilodeau's score of 26.31, Kingsbury struggled a bit on his turns, but a solid showing in the air gave him a silver medal-winning score of 24.71 in his first Olympics.

He received a quick embrace from Bilodeau while awaiting his score.

That left gold for the 26-year-old Bilodeau in his third Olympics. In the 2010 Vancouver Games, Bilodeau became the first Canadian ever to capture an Olympic gold medal on home soil.

The Canadians had a chance to sweep the podium, but Russia's Alexandr Smyshlyaev captured bronze with a score of 24.34. Canada's Marc-Antoine Gagnon ended up fourth.

American Patrick Deneen, ranked third in the World Cup leaderboards in moguls, finished sixth. He was the lone chance at a medal for the U.S. in the third final run after Bradley Wilson fell in the first final and did not advance.

Wilson is the younger brother of 2010 bronze medalist Bryon Wilson.

Dale Begg-Smith, the Vancouver-born millionaire who skis for Australia and who won the event in 2006, failed to advance out of qualifying earlier in the day. His initial score of 19.74 was 19th when the first run was completed and the veteran fell on his second attempt for a score of just 9.65.

CANADA'S HAMELIN WINS 1,500 SHORT TRACK

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canadian Charles Hamelin held off China's Han Tianyu and Russia's Viktor Ahn to win the men's 1,500-meter short track speedskating competition on Monday.

Hamelin turned in a time of 2 minutes, 14.985 seconds to secure his fourth Olympic medal, including his third gold. The 29-year-old won gold in the 500 and 5,000-meter relay in Vancouver after earning silver as part of Canada's relay squad in Turin.

The 17-year-old Han crossed the finish line in 2:15.055 to secure silver, followed closely by Ahn, who became the first Russian ever to earn a medal in short track.

Ahn won gold in this event in 2006 for South Korea, but failed to qualify for the 2010 Olympics and after a falling out with his home country, the 28-year- old Russian citizen decided to compete for this year's host nation.

American J.R. Celski finished just outside of medal contention in fourth.

The final for the women's 3,000-meter relay was also decided Monday, with Korea, Canada, China and Italy making up the four teams competing for gold.

Korea turned in the top time of 4:08.052 to win the first heat, followed closely by Canada.

China, which edged Canada for gold in this event in Vancouver, won the second heat with a time of 4:09.555, while Italy secured the last spot in the final with a time of 4:11.282.

FOURCADE WINS PURSUIT; BJOERNDALEN 4TH

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - France's Martin Fourcade won the men's biathlon pursuit on Monday, coasting to the finish line with enough of a lead that he took time to wave to spectators and blow kisses at a TV camera.

Earlier, after hitting his last five targets, Fourcade turned and pumped his fist at the crowd.

He started the race 12 seconds behind Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who was trying to set the all-time record for most Winter Olympics medals but had to ski three penalty loops after missing shots on three of his four stops.

Bjoerndalen finished fourth behind Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic and Jean Guillaume Beatrix of France.

Fourcade won his second Olympic medal after a silver in the 15-kilometer mass start four years ago.

The 25-year-old Frenchman missed one shot, in the standing position, and finished the 12.5-kilometer race with a time of 33 minutes, 48.6 seconds -- 14.1 seconds ahead of Moravec.

Bjoerndalen crossed 1.7 seconds after Beatrix. He had a one-second head start in the race after winning the men's sprint on Saturday for his 12th Winter Olympics medal. That tied countryman Bjorn Daehlie, a retired cross-country skier, for the most all-time.

Canada's Jean-Philippe Le Guellec held the lead briefly after Bjoerndalen's first miss, but lost an edge around a turn and fell. He finished 26th, 15 spots behind teammate Nathan Smith.

Tim Burke was the top American, ending 22nd. He also had the best U.S. finish in Saturday's sprint, a 19th-place showing.

MICHEL MULDER LEADS DUTCH SWEEP OF 500

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Michel Mulder held his hand to his mouth. The Dutch speedskater had just lost the men's 500 meters to Jan Smeekens in what amounted to a buzzer beater -- or so he thought.

Smeekens celebrated when his time flashed with the number one next to it after Monday's final race at Adler Arena Skating Center Coastal Cluster. But a time correction moments later flipped the teammates, with Mulder landing on top.

Mulder and Smeekens led a Dutch sweep of the event, with Mulder's twin brother Ronald coming in third. Michel Mulder finished his two races with a total time of 69.312 seconds -- .012 seconds ahead of Smeekens.

After Smeekens' result was changed -- a photo of the finish gives the official time -- the gold medalist Mulder pointed to the screen and pumped his fist.

The Netherlands has won all three speedskating gold medals so far at the Sochi Olympics. They swept the men's 5,000 meters, too, with Sven Kramer capturing gold. Ireen Wust won the women's 3,000, giving the Dutch seven of the nine medals.

South Korea's Mo Tae Bum, the 2010 Olympic champion, finished fourth. Canada's Gilmore Junio and Jamie Gregg were 11th and 12th in that order and the top U.S. finisher was Shani Davis in 24th.

Davis got the last American berth in the 500 after a teammate was disqualified in December for an infraction, but the distance is not a specialty for him.

In Wednesday's 1,000 meters, Davis will try to become the first American man to win the same event in three straight Winter Olympics.

AMERICAN HAMLIN 3RD AFTER TWO LUGE RUNS

Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - No American has ever medaled in luge singles at the Olympics.

Erin Hamlin is in a good position to become the first.

Hamlin, 27, was in third place after the first two runs on Monday at Sanki Sliding Center.

Competing in her third Olympics, Hamlin is .216 seconds ahead of Russia's Natalja Khoreva. Canada's Alex Gough and Kimberley McRae are fifth and sixth.

Germany's Natalie Geisenberger, the 2010 bronze medalist, has the lead after posting the best time in each of the first two runs. She has an overall time of 1 minute, 39.814 seconds, .766 seconds ahead of countrywoman and reigning Olympic champion Tatjana Huefner.

Hamlin was second behind Geisenberger after the first run. She is .818 seconds behind her going into the last two runs Tuesday, when she will try to become the first American woman to medal in Olympic luge.

Kate Hansen, the 21-year-old American whose pre-run dancing warmup has drawn attention online, is in 10th place.

CANADA SURVIVES SCARE, U.S. ROLLS IN WOMEN'S HOCKEY

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Frustrated for most of the game, Canada finally broke through to defeat Finland on Monday at the Sochi Olympics, while the United States put on an offensive showing to rout Switzerland.

The U.S. got two goals apiece from Amanda Kessel, Monique Lamoureux and Kendall Coyne in a 9-0 win, moving to 2-0 in Group A ahead of its highly- anticipated game against Canada on Wednesday. The Americans and Canadians entered Sochi as medal favorites in the tournament.

Canada also will go into that matchup with a pair of victories, but not before being put to the test by Finland, which held the Canadians off the scoreboard for two periods before eventually falling 3-0.

The U.S. jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Swiss in the first period, with Kessel recording two goals and an assist in the opening period.

The game was scoreless until the Americans exploded for three goals over a span of 55 seconds around the midway point of the first period. Lamoureux put the U.S. on the board at 9:20, Brianna Decker scored at 10:07 and Kessel notched her first goal just eight seconds later to give the U.S. a 3-0 cushion.

Hilary Knight pushed the lead to 4-0 with 5:37 left in the first and Kessel made it a five-goal advantage with a power-play tally at the 15:42 mark. Lamoureux made it 6-0 with the lone marker of the second period and the U.S. piled on with three more goals in the third.

Kessel and Coyne both had two assists to lead the U.S. offense with four-point games.

American goaltender Molly Schaus made 10 saves to record the shutout. Florence Schelling allowed all nine goals on 53 shots for Switzerland.

It wasn't as easy for Canada, which entered Sochi having gone 19-2 over the previous four Winter Olympics and having won the last three gold medals.

Canada began the preliminary round with a 5-0 win over Switzerland, but struggled to get anything past Finland goaltender Noora Raty for a majority of the game on Monday. The Canadians finally broke through at the midway mark of the third for the first of three goals in a span of 7:09.

Meghan Agosta-Marciano's tally with 10:33 to play melted the frustration for an offense that outshot Finland, the 2010 bronze medal winner, 42-14.

Agosta-Marciano converted on the power play, ripping a slap shot from the slot right over the glove of Raty, who was excellent with 39 saves.

That goal for Canada came on its 37th shot and Jayna Hefford cashed in just under three minutes later, sneaking a shot over Raty's left shoulder after stripping the puck in the neutral zone.

Rebecca Johnston put home Canada's third goal, tipping home a pass from across the slot with 3:24 to go.

Shannon Szabados wasn't tested too much, but posted a 14-save shutout to help Canada avoid its first Olympic loss to a club other than the U.S.

CANADIAN WOMEN WIN CURLING OPENER, MEN EARN SPLIT

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - It was a split day for the medal-hopeful Canadian teams in Monday's start of curling action at the Sochi Olympics.

While the women's team began its pursuit of a gold medal by claiming a 9-2 victory over China, the men followed up an 11-8 decision over Germany in the morning session with a 5-4 setback to Switzerland later in the day.

The Canadian men are chasing a third straight Olympic gold medal and saw Germany notch two points in the ninth end before responding with two in the 10th and final end to record the victory.

However, after going scoreless through the first four ends the Swiss grabbed three points in the fifth before Canada answered with two points in the sixth. The two clubs then alternated points the rest of the way to give Switzerland the win.

The Swiss earned bronze in the 2010 Vancouver Games and are also 1-1 after the first day, having lost 7-5 to Sweden in the first session.

Sweden went 2-0 on the day, following up the victory over Switzerland with an 8-4 decision over Great Britain.

Both U.S. teams failed to pick up a victory on Monday. The men's team suffered a 7-4 loss to Norway, a 2010 silver medalist, in its lone match, while the women were defeated 7-4 by Switzerland.

The women led the Swiss 2-0 after the first three ends, but Switzerland notched four points in the fourth end and another two in the fifth.

Canada, which took a silver in the women's tournament in Vancouver, rolled past China.

In other women's action on Monday, Russia topped Denmark 7-4, while defending gold-medal winner Sweden bested Great Britain 6-4.

Also on the men's side, Russia lost two matchups, falling 7-4 to Great Britain before getting outlasted 11-10 by Denmark, which had lost 7-4 to China earlier in the day.

CANADIAN SKIER GAGNON DISLOCATES SHOULDER

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canadian alpine skier Marie- Michele Gagnon suffered a dislocated shoulder Monday during her slalom run in the women's combined at the Sochi Olympics.

Gagnon dislocated her left shoulder when she straddled a gate and fell, the Canadian Olympic Committee said.

She said she hopes to keep racing in her second Olympics.

"I really want to show people that you can overcome obstacles and still do great things," said Gagnon.

Last month, Gagnon became the first Canadian to win a World Cup race. She was 21st after the downhill portion of the combined Monday before crashing out of the slalom.

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