Wednesday's Olympic Capsules

Updated: February 22, 2006, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SESTRIERE, Italy -- Anja Paerson finally won her Olympic gold medal and beat her longtime rival in the process with a pair of dominant runs through floodlit fog in the women's slalom.

Janica Kostelic of Croatia, whose six medals in two Olympics are the most by any women's Alpine skier, failed to win a medal for the first time in her last seven events. She was fourth.

Austrians Nicole Hosp and Marlies Schild were second and third, the country's unprecedented 100th and 101st Olympic Alpine medals. That's nearly double the next-biggest total, Switzerland's 53.

Paerson came into the slalom with four Olympic medals, two at these games, but only one silver and three bronzes -- no gold. And she was an awful 12th in her last event, the super-G.

The 24-year-old Swede made sure of gold in the slalom from the start, setting the pace as the first skier out of the gate on the first run and then protecting it with the second-fastest time of the second run as the last of the 30 skiers in the contending flight.

When gold was secured, Paerson raised her arms in triumph, then slowly walked back up toward the finish line for the belly-slide she always does after a victory. The snow surely had never felt so good.

Paerson had a combined time for the two runs of 1 minute, 29.04 seconds, 0.29 ahead of Hosp, a 22-year-old Austrian with her first Olympic medal. Schild was .75 behind for the bronze, her second medal of the games. She won silver in the combined, just ahead of Paerson's bronze.<

------= ^SPEEDSKATING= ^Women= ^1,500 Meters=

TURIN, Italy -- Cindy Klassen added a gold medal to the bronze and two silvers she's already earned at the Olympics, winning the women's 1,500-meter speedskating with a dominant performance ahead of teammate Kristina Groves.

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, gold medalist in the 3,000 meters, took bronze, knocking favorite Anni Friesinger out of the medals.

Skating in the same pairing with Friesinger, Klassen took control after the first of 3} laps and finished in 1 minute, 55.27 seconds. Groves was 1.47 seconds behind.

Wust, skating in the final pair, never got close to her second gold, finishing with a time of 1:56.90.

When she saw Wust's time, Klassen hugged her coach and took the Canadian flag on a lap around the oval before joining Groves in a celebration.<

------= ^HOCKEY= ^Men= ^Quarterfinals= ^Sweden 6, Switzerland 2= ^Finland 4, United States 3= ^Russia 2, Canada 0= ^Czech Republic 3, Slovakia 1=

TURIN, Italy -- Shot after shot slid through Rick DiPietro's pads, caromed in off his body and bounced the U.S. men's hockey team out of the Olympics.

Olli Jokinen scored two power-play goals in the second period for Finland, which recovered after blowing an early two-goal lead and beat the United States in an Olympic quarterfinal game.

The U.S. team never got going in Turin and DiPietro wasn't nearly as steady as he had been in the preliminary rounds, while Finnish goalie Antero Niittymaki made 15 of his 25 saves in the third period to hold off the United States' final push.

The Finns (6-0) will play Russia in the semifinals on Friday while the Americans (1-4-1) will try to figure out why they managed only one win after capturing the silver medal four years ago in Salt Lake City.

Canada-Russia made for the best hockey game in the Turin Olympics so far, and once again, Canada (3-3) couldn't beat Russia (5-1) when it counted.

Alexander Ovechkin, an NHL player for only a few months, scored the pivotal first goal 90 seconds into the third period and Russia rode goaltender Evgeni Nabokov's superb game to victory over the gold medal favorites.

Alex Kovalev sealed the tensely played game by scoring with 23 seconds remaining with Russia on a power play, after Nabokov stood up to the increasingly frantic Canadians by making big save after big save over the final five minutes. He stopped all 27 shots he faced.

It was the Russians' eighth win in nine Olympic games against Canada. When Kovalev scored to put it away, a disgusted Wayne Gretzky, Canada's executive director, headed to the exit.

Sweden (4-2) claimed a spot in the other semifinal with a win over Switzerland (2-2-2), justifying coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson's suggestion that his team would be better off facing the Swiss than Canada or the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

It didn't take Sweden long to demonstrate its superiority over Switzerland, which boasted just three NHL players on its roster. The Swedes scoring four quick goals after Switzerland's Mark Streit tied the score 1-1 midway through the first period.

Sweden will face the Czech Republic (3-3), which ousted "little brother" Slovakia (5-1) from the tournament in a lively border battle. Martin Rucinsky scored a short-handed goal and third-string goalie Milan Hnilicka made 20 saves as the Czechs rebounded impressively after a mediocre preliminary round.

The loss was crushing to the previously unbeaten Slovaks, who had more than Olympic glory riding on their game against the elite, star-studded half of the former Czechoslovakia.

------= ^CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING= ^Women= ^Sprint=

PRAGELATO, Italy -- Chandra Crawford upstaged two of her better-known countrywomen and pulled off an upset in the women's 1.1km sprint Wednesday, skating across the finish for Canada's first cross-country gold medal of the Turin Games.

Crawford, with tiny pigtails peeking out of her hat and a huge smile on her face, is hardly her country's biggest star -- previously staying out of the spotlight behind Beckie Scott and Sara Renner, silver medalists in the team sprint last Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Crawford edged silver medalist Claudia Kuenzel of Germany, while Russia's Alena Sidko took the bronze. Scott was fourth in the four-skier final.

Kuenzel took the lead on the first climb and overtook Crawford, who quickly regained control.

Scott was fastest of the 66 skiers from the qualifying round.

World Cup leader Anna Dahlberg and Lina Andersson of Sweden were favorites but Dahlberg was done after the semis and Andersson didn't make it out of the quarterfinals.

American Kikkan Randall reached the semifinals with two great races in the qualifying round and quarterfinals.< ^Men= ^Sprint=

PRAGELATO, Italy -- Bjoern Lind of Sweden easily skied to an Olympic gold medal in the men's 1.3km cross-country sprint race, taking advantage of rival Tor Arne Hetland's fall in the semifinals.

Lind finished in 2 minutes, 26.5 seconds to beat silver medalist Roddy Darragon of France, who was six-tenths of a second behind. Lind's countryman, Thobias Fredriksson, took the bronze.

Three Italians reached the semifinals in the men's race, with Cristian Zorzi advancing to the four-skier final and placing fourth. He was the anchor of Italy's winning 4x10km relay team Sunday.

Hetland missed a chance at Norway's first gold of these games in cross-country when he tried to pass Lind on the right side during the semifinals and fell onto his left, then his bottom. He placed last in the heat.

American Andy Newell placed second in the 80-man field in morning qualifying and U.S. teammate Chris Cook also advanced to the quarterfinals. Newell placed fourth in his quarterfinal heat and didn't move on -- the top two from each quarterfinal advanced to the semifinals.<

--------= ^CURLING= ^Men= ^Semifinals= ^Canada 11, United States 5= ^Finland 4, Great Britain 3=

PINEROLO, Italy -- Pete Fenson couldn't lead the United States to the Olympic gold medal game, losing to Canada in the curling semifinals.

Now the U.S. skip could leave Italy with a bronze -- or nothing more than some new pizza recipes.

Canada clinched at least a silver medal and forced the Americans to play in the consolation game for third place. That would be the first Olympic curling medal -- men's or women's -- for the United States.

But a loss on Friday and Fenson, who owns a pair of pizza restaurants in northern Minnesota, is going home empty-handed. The United States already saw its highly touted women's team fail to qualify for the medal round.

Canada (7-3) wrapped it up with a whopping five points in the ninth end -- one short of the Olympic record -- when the Americans (6-4), forced to play from behind, had to take chances. The U.S. players quickly conceded the match.

Canada will play for the gold on Friday night against Finland (8-2), which used the big last-rock advantage called the hammer to score on the game's final throw to beat the British 4-3. That spoiled the hope Britain (6-4) would bring home a gold medal back to curling's birthplace to match the one a team of Scottish women won in Salt Lake City.< ^Women= ^Semifinals= ^Switzerland 7, Canada 5= ^Sweden 5, Norway 4=

PINEROLO, Italy -- Anette Norberg's takeout on the final shot of the game lifted Sweden over Norway in the semifinals of the Olympic curling tournament. The Swedes advanced to the gold medal match against Switzerland, a winner over Canada.

Norwegian skip Dordi Nordby tied the match at 4 in the ninth end with a double takeout, knocking two Swedish rocks out of the target area. But in the 10th and final end, Sweden had the crucial last-rock advantage. All Norberg had to do was bump a Norwegian stone away from the center of the house, or target area, leaving the Swedes with the closest rock.

Switzerland (8-2) trailed its match 1-0 before scoring three points in the third end, or inning. Skip Mirjam Ott slid the final rock, or hammer, and knocked one of her team's stationary rocks into the target area. Her stone then slid in after it, leaving the Swiss with three closest to the center and a 3-1 lead.

Canada trailed 5-2 in the seventh before skip Shannon Kleibrink drew the hammer to the middle of the house to cut the deficit to one.

Ott answered for Switzerland in the eighth. Each team had one stone around the inner ring of the house, and the Canadians were closer. Ott knocked the Swiss rock into Canada's stone, bumping it away and leaving Switzerland with the two nearest the target for a 7-4 advantage.

Canada (6-4) will play Norway (6-4) for the bronze Thursday, the same day as the gold medal game.

Sweden (8-2) beat Switzerland 9-7 in the preliminary round last Friday.<

------= ^FREESTYLE SKIING= ^Women= ^Aerials=

SAUZE d'OULX, Italy -- Evelyne Leu of Switzerland beat her Chinese rival to win the gold medal in Olympic aerials, adding the last missing piece to an already stellar career.

Leu, whose last appearance at the Olympics was marked by a world-record performance in qualifying but a bust in finals, saved her best stuff for the right night at the Turin Games.

She landed a triple backflip with three twists on her second of two jumps and earned a score of 107.93 that put her in the lead with four jumpers left.

"I was still thinking it was enough for a medal, but not really for the gold," Leu said.

The rest of the field couldn't catch her. Not defending Olympic champion Alisa Camplin of Australia, who finished third. Not Leu's rival, Li Nina of China, who finished second. And not Guo Xinxin of China, who led after the first jump, but finished with a face-plant and fell to sixth.

"It was too much difficulty," Guo said.

There were no Americans in the finals. Neither Emily Cook nor Jana Lindsey made the top 12 in qualifying the night before.

Aussie Jacqui Cooper, who set the world record in qualifying, fell on both her landings and finished eighth. At 33 and having suffered injuries that cut short her previous Olympic trips, Cooper was the sentimental favorite among the finalists.

But she was no match for Leu, whose total score of 202.55 was 5.16 better than Li.

------= ^SNOWBOARD= ^Men= ^Parallel Giant Slalom=

BARDONECCHIA, Italy -- The first family of snowboarding's parallel giant slalom wrapped up a second consecutive Olympic gold medal before the final head-to-head duel had even begun.

It was only a matter of which Schoch would take the title this time, and defending Olympic champion Philipp Schoch pulled it out, defeating older brother Simon.

Simon Schoch, 27, has been the stronger racer this season, but slid wide on a gate in the first run against his 26-year-old brother, leaving him with a .88-second deficit he could not make up on the second and final run.

A strong, flag-waving Swiss contingent in the grandstand cheered the whole run, knowing their country couldn't lose either way.

The brothers gave each other a long hug afterward, and stood with their arms around each other's shoulders and posed for a special family photo. This was the first Olympic medal for Simon, who did not make the podium in 2002. Meanwhile, Philipp became the first ever two-time gold medal winner in Olympic snowboarding, now in its third Winter Games.

Austrian Siegfried Grabner took bronze easily after Frenchman Mathieu Bozzetto fell in the first run of their head-to-head battle for the final spot on the podium.

Tyler Jewell, the only American in the event, made the finals by finishing ninth in morning qualifying, but lost to Slovenian Dejan Kosir in the first round of heat races. Kosir went on to finish eighth.

------= ^SHORT TRACK SPEEDSKATING= ^Women= ^3,000-Meter Relay=

TURIN, Italy -- South Korea took another gold at the short track, capturing the women's 3,000-meter relay Wednesday night.

The team of Byun Chun-sa, Choi Eun-kyung, Jeon Da-hye and Jin Sun-yu won their country's fourth short track gold medal of the Turin Games. Canada took the silver.

China, which crossed the line third, was disqualified for an illegal move. That gave the bronze to Italy, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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