Maybe the American men grew tired of hearing about their failures in Alpine skiing at these Games, because Sunday morning, the drought ended with two medals. Andrew Weibrecht took silver and Bode Miller tied for bronze in the super-G.
Weibrecht’s silver was surprising; he also surprised the field four years ago in Vancouver, winning bronze.
Kjetil Jansrud of Norway took his first gold of the Games and second medal; he won bronze in the opening event, the downhill. Miller tied with Jan Hudec of Canada.
The bronze made Miller, 36, the oldest Olympic Alpine medalist.
Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic won the gold medal in women’s snowboard cross, with Dominique Maltais of Canada taking silver and Chloe Trespeuch of France the bronze.
American Faye Gulini was a surprising fourth. Teammate Lindsey Jacobellis, coming in as one of the favorites, failed to make the final but won the consolation final. The third American in the event, Jackie Hernandez, fell during a seeding run and was carried off the course.
The Swedish men’s team had a lot to live up to in the 4×10-kilometer cross-country relay, after their teammates won the women’s relay Saturday on a stunning gold medal performance on a great anchor leg by Charlotte Kalla. But Sweden men’s team was the defending gold medalist and showed it, taking the lead early and holding it for the gold medal.
Norway won the silver in this event in Vancouver, but this year, the team is in complete disarray. First, there was infighting over which skiers would be selected for which events — Norway is sort of the Dream Team of cross country so there aren’t enough spots for everything. Then, after the women’s relay team finished fifth, after some other subpar performances, Norway went nuts. The athletes were quick to point the finger of blame at their skies, so the coaches and technicians are under extreme pressure.
Sunday, Sweden jumped to the lead on the first leg by Lars Nelson, followed in .3 seconds at the change by Finland. France was third — and Norway was sixth, 26.3 seconds behind. At the end of the second leg, no time separated Sweden and Finland at the line. The Czechs were fourth, France fifth and Russia sixth. Norway was in an unheard-of ninth.
Then it all changed in the third leg. Johan Olsson gave Sweden a big lead, but Lari Lehtonen of Finland was caught by five countries, including Norway. The biggest charge was made by Russian Alexander Legkov, who brought his team into second place and less than 15 seconds behind Sweden. France had moved into third, Italy fourth and the Czechs fifth. Norway moved up to sixth place, but at about 1 minute behind, its medal chances were over.
Marcus Hellner — who once played in the World Series of Poker — skied the anchor leg for Sweden and never faltered, grabbing a Swedish flag on his anchor lap and skiing in to take the gold by 27.3 seconds.
The battle was for the silver and bronze. The Russian fans — including Vladimir Putin — were poised for the country’s first medal in cross-country at their Games, and Maxim Vylegzhanin didn’t disappoint, clinching silver. France won their first relay medal, taking the bronze.
Petter Northug of Norway had a strong anchor leg, salvaging some of his country’s tattered dignity in fourth.
Finland, after a strong start, faded to seventh.
Andy Newell left the United States in a big hole — 15th — after his first leg. He limped in to the finish, as much as one can limp on skis. It was unclear what happened to him on the course, but he appeared to be in distress at the finish line. The U.S. team finished 11th.
In women’s hockey, Finland — out of the tougher Group A — beat Germany, 2-1, in a qualification game. The Finns, led by goalie Noora Raty, the big Braden Holtby fan — will play for fifth place, a disappointing result for the 2010 bronze medalists.
In men’s Group B play, Austria beat Norway, 3-1, behind two goals by Michael Grabner. Austria finished third in its group, behind Canada and Finland, who meat later today.
Analysis: The pros and cons of the hockey shootout