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US Looks to Add to Medal Collection

February 23, 2002

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Bode Miller could’ve played it safe and earned his third medal of the Winter Olympics. Instead, he went with the all-out strategy that helped him win two silvers.

Oh, well. Two out of three’s not bad.

Miller fell twice on his final run, dropping him from second after one round to 10th. He’d done the opposite in his previous two events, overcoming a bad first run with a stunning second one.

Americans still have several good chances over the final two days to improve on their best-ever performance at a Winter Olympics. The previous U.S. medal record was 13.

The men’s hockey team is guaranteed at least a silver after beating Russia 3-2 in the semifinals Friday. The Americans play Canada in the final Sunday.

The four-man U.S. bobsled team led by Todd Hays was in first place heading into the last two heats Saturday. Without any Miller-like mistakes, the sled should win a medal, the first for American men in boblsed in 46 years.

Short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who has a gold and a silver, races Saturday night in the 500 meters and the 5,000 relay. Early Saturday, an arbitration panel rejected South Korea’s bid to have his gold in the 1,500 turned over to Kim Dong-sung, who finished first but was disqualified for an illegal block.

Spain’s Johann ``Juanito″ Muehlegg, who competed for Germany at three previous Olympics, won his third gold medal of these games by taking the 50-kilometer cross-country event. Mikhail Ivanov of Russia won the silver, and Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia won the bronze.

Miller’s race was won by France’s Jean-Pierre Vidal, who three years ago severed ligaments in both knees in a training accident and spent 45 days in a wheelchair. He was just ahead of countryman Sebastien Amiez. Alain Baxter won the bronze, the first-ever Alpine medal for Britain.

In women’s 5,000-meter speedskating, Germany’s Claudia Pechstein won the gold medal by breaking the world record set about an hour earlier by Gretha Smit of the Netherlands. It was the eighth world record in 10 events at the Salt Lake City Games, topping the previous mark of seven set at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Smit got silver and bronze went to Clara Hughes of Canada.

Russia beat Belarus 7-2 to win bronze in men’s hockey. The only other event Saturday was women’s 1,000 meters short-track speedskating.


_ OLYMPIC DIPLOMACY: The International Olympic Committee is doing all it can to get to the end of the games without any more problems.

On Friday, it persuaded the Russians to stay and the South Koreans to take part in the closing ceremony. The IOC also decided not to kick out a Belarusian short-track speedskater caught with steroids in her system.

That doesn’t mean everyone is happy, though.

Russian hockey coach Slava Fetisov complained that referees didn’t give his team any breaks against the United States. ``An agreement’s been signed that is designed to have a final between Canada and the USA,″ he said.

IOC president Jacques Rogge met with South Koreans officials Friday to discuss their anger over the short-track speedskating race won by Ohno.

Also, the IOC’s executive board gave Belarus’ Yulia Pavlovich a ``severe warning″ and expelled her coach and a team doctor from the games. She was allowed to remain in the Olympic Village and march in the closing ceremony.


_ HOCKEY: Playing on the 22nd anniversary of the ``Miracle on Ice″ game, the United States again took down the Russians.

Bill Guerin got the United States started, pushing in a rebound at 15:56 of the first period. Scott Young and Phil Housley scored in the second period and the lead appeared insurmountable with goaltender Mike Richter playing great.

But Alexei Kovalev scored 11 seconds into the third period and Vladimir Malakhov followed 3:10 later. Richter was superb the rest of the way and the Americans continued distancing themselves from their wretched performance on and off the ice in Nagano.

``That was the best game I’ve ever been in,″ U.S. forward Jeremy Roenick said.


_ SPEEDSKATING: Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands was great at 1,500 meters and better at 5,000. But 10,000? Teammate Gianni Romme was supposed to dominate.

Supposed to. Uytdehaage won convincingly, setting a world record to claim his second gold medal of the games and third overall.

``He’s the king of these Olympics in speedskating,″ said American Derek Parra, who was 13th after finishing in the top two with Uytdehaage in the shorter races.

Romme, who won the 10,000 four years ago and had held the world record, got the silver. Norway’s Lasse Saetre won the bronze.


_ WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM: Janica Kostelic is truly the ``Croatian Sensation.″

By winning the giant slalom, she became the first Olympic skier to win four Alpine medals at a single games, and just the third with three golds.

The top U.S. skier in Friday’s race was Kristina Koznick, who finished 17th. The U.S. women were shut out of Alpine medals for the first time since the 1988 Calgary Games.


_ CURLING: The men’s curling tournament came down to the final throw, with a miss by the favored Canadians giving Norway a 6-5 victory and the gold medal, much to the delight of King Harald, who was in the stands. Switzerland beat Sweden 7-3 in the bronze-medal game.

The final shot was thrown by Kevin Martin, one of the world’s top skips, or captains. But he’s never won an international title, making him the curling equivalent of Phil Mickelson, the golf star lacking a major title.

``It’s unbelievable,″ Norway’s Flemming Davanger said.

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