Medal rush puts Americans atop Olympic leader board

BRIAN GOMEZ Updated: February 17, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: February 17, 2010

WEST VANCOUVER – The Americans are back in the lead in the Olympic medal race, lifted by two Alpine skiers with lightning-quick times, a snowboarder with a high-soaring trick only he can perform and a long-track speedskater with a big chip on his shoulder.

A week into the Vancouver Games, the U.S. stands atop the leader board, having claimed 14 medals, including five golds. Germany has 10 medals and three golds, while France has seven medals and two golds, and South Korea and Switzerland each have three golds. In its third time as Olympic host, Canada boasts six medals and two golds.

On Wednesday, the Americans broke their single-day Winter Games record with six medals. Vail resident Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso tallied a 1-2 finish in the downhill before Shani Davis, in the long-track 1,000 meters with an energetic final 400, and Shaun White, in the halfpipe with his trademark double McTwist 1,260, repeated as Olympic champions. Chad Hedrick (1,000) and Scotty Lago (halfpipe) won bronzes.

Skiers and snowboarders have combined for 10 of the 14 medals – the Americans also have golds from moguls skier Hannah Kearney and snowboard cross rider Seth Wescott, as well as bronzes from Alpine skier Bode Miller and moguls skiers Shannon Bahrke and Bryon Wilson. Miller is the silver-medal favorite Friday in the super-G.

In short-track speedskating, Apolo Anton Ohno gave the U.S. a silver and J.R. Celski had a bronze in the 1,500 meters, and in Nordic combined, Johnny Spillane claimed a silver in the individual normal hill. Ohno is projected to win a silver Saturday in the 1,000, and the U.S. is the gold-medal favorite Tuesday in the Nordic combined team event.

The halfpipe is White’s only event in Vancouver. Vonn should compete four more times, assuming her severely bruised right shin doesn’t give her problems, and she’s favored for a bronze in Thursday’s super combined and a gold Saturday in the super-G. Olympic insiders pick Davis to win a gold Saturday in the 1,500 – he claimed a silver in the event in 2006.

On Thursday, figure skater Evan Lysacek shoots for a medal, in second place entering the long program; long-track speedskater Katherine Reutter toes the line in the 1,000; and halfpipe riders Gretchen Bleiler, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter hope maximum amplitude nets the U.S. a podium sweep. Due up Saturday is Colorado Springs bobsledder Steven Holcomb.

For more Olympic coverage, visit www.gazette.com/olympics

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