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By John Cherwa Olympic Bureau It was a day of roller coaster emotions for the U.S. ski team on Tuesday. It started with a brilliant downhill run by Bode Miller in the first leg of the men's combined. Then it was followed by Miller's disqualification in the first run of the slalom. And it ended with underrated Ted Ligety winning the gold medal in a come-from-behind performance in the second leg of the slalom.
Normally, the disqualification of a star such as Miller would have created a buzz. But, it was very clear on video replay that Miller had straddled one of the slalom gates, which forced him out of the event. Miller agreed with the replay and said there was no need for a protest.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia received the silver medal and Rainer Schoenfelder got the bronze.
Other U.S. skiers that were in the combined were Scott Macartney (16th) and Steven Nyman (29th).
Figure Skating: There is little doubt that there is Evgeni Plushenko and then there is all the rest when it comes to men's skating. His mastery was in evidence during the short program leaving little doubt who will win the gold. But in a pleasant surprise, U.S. skater Johnny Weir finished the evening in second place. The long program will be held on Thursday. Other U.S. skaters were Matthew Savoie (8th) and Evan Lysacek (10th).
Speedskating: The U.S. dominance came to a halt in the women's 500 meters. It was not unexpected. Russia's Svetlana Zhurova easily won the two-race event. Second went to Manli Wang of China and her teammate Hui Ren took the bronze. In somehwat of a surprise Jennifer Rodriguez was the highest placed American in 11th place. Rodriguez was certainly not expected to do well here, as she specializes in middle distances. Other U.S. skaters were Amy Sannes (17th), Eli Ochowicz (23rtd) and Chris Witty, the flagbearer, was 28th.
Luge: Just like the men, the U.S. women fell one place short of getting their first ever luge signles medal. Courtney Zablocki entered the third run in fourth place but couldn't improve over two runs. The Germans filled the medal stand with Sylke Otto defending the gold medal she won in Salt Lake City. Second and third went to Silke Kraushaar and Tatjana Huefner.
Hockey: Things played themselves out just as expected on the final day of pool play in the women's tournament. The United States, which was trailing 3-1, rallied to stay undefeated and beat Finland, 6-3. The U.S. will play Sweden in the semifinals on Friday. The other heavy favorite, Canada, beat Sweden 8-1. Canada will play Finland in the other semifinal game. In other pool play, Russia beat Italy, 5-1, and Germany beat Switzerland, 2-1.
Cross-Country Skiing: It was more of the same when it came to success for the U.S. team. In the women's team sprint final, Anna Dahlberg and Lina Andersson of Sweden barely beat out Sara Renner and Beckie Scott of Candada. The bronze went to Finland's Aino Kaisa Gjomie and Marit Bjorgen. The U.S. didn't do horribly getting a 10th place with Wendy Wagner and Kikkan Randall. In the men's team sprint final, the U.S. team of Chris Cook and Andy Newell didn't even make it out of the semifinals. Bjoern Lind and Thobias Fredriksson of Sweden finished first, follwed by Arne Svartedal and Tor Arne Hetland of Norway and Ivan Alypov and Vassili Rotchev of Russia.
Curling: One of the big disappointments of the Games has been the U.S. women's team. As a silver medalist in the World Championships they were expected to contend for a medal. But, it lost its third straight match, 6-5, to Japan, after getting blown out by Canada in the morning, 11-5. At this point it would be difficult for them to make the medal round. Other women's results were Russia 7, Japan 5; Britain 5, Switzerland 4; Norway 10, Sweden 3; Denmark 10, Italy 7; Canada 6, Russia 5 and Norway 9, Switzerland 2. On the men's side, the U.S. easily handled New Zealand, 10-4. Other games were Norway 7, Switzerland 2; Sweden 8, Canada 7 and Italy 9, Germany 8.
Biathlon: The U.S. had one of its worst performances in the men's 10-kilometer sprint. Jay Hakkinen finished 80th of 90 competitors. This comes days after he predicted that he was on the cusp of winning the first U.S. biathlon medal. Sven Fischer led a trio if Germans on the medals stand. He was followed by Halvard Hanevold and Frode Andresen.
John Cherwa is the Tribune Sports Coordinator.