Fischbacher restores Austrian pride

Fischbacher claims Austria's first Alpine gold as Ammann soars into the record books.

    Fischbacher gets Austria off the mark with gold in the Super-G [GALLO/GETTY]
    Andrea Fischbacher restored a sense of pride to the ski-crazy country of Austria when she claimed their first long-awaited Alpine title at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

    Fischbacher, who finished a disappointing fourth in the women's downhill, beat US favourite Lindsey Vonn in the women's super-G.

    "It's a dream coming true, it's just crazy," said Fischbacher after snagging Austria's first alpine skiing gold medal of the Games.

    "After the downhill I was very sad and thinking, 'So close,' but then I was going 'Okay, maybe I make it in super-G.' "

    Simon Ammann created ski jumping Olympic history by winning the large hill competition at Whistler Olympic Park to claim his fourth individual gold medal.

    The 28-year-old Swiss shrugged off an Austrian protest over his ski bindings to clinch both the normal and large hill titles for the second time at an Olympics, eight years after dual victories at Salt Lake City.

    Ammann became the first ski jumper to win four individual gold medals.

    Another US favourite Shani Davis had to settle for silver behind flying Dutchman Mark Tuitert in the men's 1500 metres speedskating final.

    Like Vonn, Shani Davis was an overwhelming favourite to win his title, after successfully defending his 1,000m earlier in the week but could not match the powerful effort of Tuitert of the Netherlands and had to settle for silver with third place awarded to Norway's Havard Bokko.

    Top performance

    Fischbacher unleashed the finest performance of her life to upstage Vonn and her other big-name rivals and win the first major title of her career.

    Austria won 14 of the 30 Alpine medals at Turin but only had a bronze, from Elisabeth Goergl in the downhill, in the first four events in Vancouver.

    "I like a tight course and I like a difficult race," said the 24-year-old, a distant cousin of retired double Olympic champion Hermann Maier.

    While Fischbacher's win was not entirely expected, Slovenia's Tina Maze's silver was surprising - particularly with Vonn finishing with a bronze.

    Slovenia's Maze snatched the silver to appease her angry team officials who lodged an official protest after their leading cross-country skier Petra Majdic broke four ribs when she fell in a gully three days ago.

    Fischbacher had been in tears after missing a medal in the downhill by three-hundredths of a second.

    Compounding the pressure on the Austrians was the success of the Americans, who collected their seventh Alpine medals in Vancouver with Vonn's bronze. That's two better than their previous best mark of five at a single Winter Games and almost half the 15 Alpine medals awarded so far.

    "I was just thinking if I make a really good run and do my best I can beat her,'' said Fischbacher, who was second behind Vonn in the last super-G World Cup race before the Olympics.

    "I've seen it before and if everything is going really perfect I can go really fast. Everything was perfect and I skied really fast. It was a dream.''

    Norwegian world champion Petter Northug finished out of the medals in the men's 30 kilometre cross country pursuit as Sweden's Marcus Hellner pulled away from a trio of rivals to win 30-kilometre cross-country pursuit in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 11.4 seconds, ending a three-day wait for Sweden for their third gold medal.

    Ammann soars into the record books with four individual titles [GALLO/GETTY]
    Record books

    Ammann's victory in the ski jump came after Austrian team officials withdrew a threat to protest against his modified boot bindings which they thought gave him an unfair advantage.

    Ammann posted the leading score after soaring 144 metres with his first jump and focused on a good landing in the final jump of the competition, nailing the landing on a 138-metre effort for a total of 283.6 points.

    Poland's Adam Malysz had 269.4 points for silver and 20-year-old Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer had 262.2 for the bronze - a repeat of the podium from the normal hill.

    "I was so nervous up there. This is all very nerve-racking,'' Ammann said.

    "I always have this magical force to jump far here and that is amazing. This is truly amazing.''

    Chinese teenager Zhou Yang burst through the pack to win the women's 1500 short track speed skating gold and South Korean short track speed skater Lee Jung-su won gold as expected on the day where the Games reached the halfway stage.

    Zhou won the women's 1500 short track final ahead of the South Korean pair of Lee Eun-byul and Park Seung-hi after favourite Wang Meng, who won the 500 final earlier in the week, was disqualified in the semi-finals for impeding in a crash near the end of the race.

    South Korea won gold and silver in the men's final, with Lee sticking his boot across the line just ahead of Lee Ho-suk.

    American Apolo Anton Ohno picked up the bronze to become his country's most decorated winter Olympian with his seventh medal in three Games, overtaking speedskater Bonnie Blair.

    The US retained their place at the top of the medals table despite ending the day as they began with six golds.

    Norway were second with five while Germany, Canada and Switzerland each had four.


    The men's ice hockey competition featured six teams trying to avoid last place, and it ended with one of the most exciting periods of the tournament.

    Belarus and Germany combined for five goals in the final nine minutes before the Belarusians claimed a 5-3 victory and their first win of the Olympics.

    "We got our win, that's the most important thing. Doesn't have to be pretty,'' said Ruslan Salei, who scored the goal that gave Belarus the lead for good.

    In other games, Slovakia beat Latvia 6-0, and Switzerland defeated Norway 5-4 in overtime.

    All 12 teams advance to the playoffs in the Olympic format, with the top four getting a bye to the quarterfinals, so Saturday's games gave some of the lesser teams a chance to improve their seeding and gain momentum going into the knockout rounds that begin on Tuesday.

    The rest of the field wraps up group play on Sunday with three games that will determine the four automatic quarterfinal berths: Canada-United States, Sweden-Finland and Russia-Czech Republic.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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