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Friday, September 19, 2014         

WINTER OLYMPICS


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Silver lining lost on U.S.

By News Services

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SOCHI, Russia » The American team did not find a silver lining playbook Friday on the final day of speedskating competition at the 2014 Winter Games.

They got a silver medal in the men's 5,000-meter relay in short track racing at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Three cheers for that.

But it took the final event and two of the five teams going down almost immediately to help the United States finish second to Russia and superstar import Victor An.

An won two gold medals Friday night and ended the games with three victories and a bronze medal -- the same as he did in Turin, Italy, eight years ago while representing South Korea.

While An has turned Russia into a short track power, the U.S. seems incapable of filling the vacuum left by Apolo Ohno.

"It's a great way to end the games," U.S. short track coach Stephen Gough said. "But we had a bigger vision."

Jessica Scott of Melvindale, Mich., finished fourth in the women's 1,000 on Friday, the closest the team got to a medal in an individual race.

Otherwise, the Sochi Games will be remembered for crashes, disqualifications and lots of turmoil. Four years after rising star J.R. Celski won three medals in Vancouver, he got shut out until the final race, anchoring the Americans to second place.

At the long track arena, the Americans were soundly defeated Friday to experience their first medal shutout since 1984.

While the short track team came to Russia with many questions, the long track team arrived full of bravado. The best the skaters could do was a seventh placing.

Shani Davis, two-time defending champion in the the 1,000 meters, finished eighth. He was 11th in the 1,500, a race in which he owns two silver medals.

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world in the 1,000 and 3 and 4 in the 1,500, were not in the top six in either event.

"It's hard to shift momentum when you start off trying to keep the ground from falling out from under you," said U.S. sprint coach Ryan Shimabukuro, who is from Kalihi. "Once you feel like maybe it's gone, it's hard to change that."

BIATHLON

Four Ukrainian women gave their politically torn country some good news at the Sochi Games.

As government and opposition leaders worked to end the months-long crisis that erupted in deadly violence this week, the Ukraine women's 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay team won the nation's first gold medal in two decades.

Twins Vita and Valj Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, and Olena Pidhrushna missed five targets but avoided penalty loops to finish in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 2.5 seconds. Russia was 26.4 seconds behind to take silver.

The four women celebrated with a Ukrainian flag as lawmakers back home paused to mark the occasion.

"Great proof of how sport can unite the nation," Sergei Bubka, the pole vault great and leader of the Ukraine Olympic Committee, wrote on Twitter.

FREESTYLE SKIING

Marielle Thompson of Canada edged teammate Kelsey Serwa for the gold in women's skicross, giving the country its third 1-2 finish in freestyle skiing events in Sochi. The others came in men's and women's moguls.

In the skicross final, Ophelie David of France wiped out about two-thirds down the course, giving the bronze to Sweden's Anna Holmlund.

CURLING

Canada routed Britain 9-3 to win its third straight gold medal in men's curling, giving the country a sweep of the curling titles in Sochi. The Canadian women won their first-ever curling title on Thursday.

Sweden won the bronze in men's curling, taking an extra end to defeat China 6-4.






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