Canada edge closer to Olympic dream

Host nation recover Olympic form with victory over rivals Russia in ice hockey quarters.

    Russian goalkeeper Evgeni Nabokov looks on as Canada score during the quarter against Russia at the Canada Hockey Place [AFP]

    The most coveted gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics is still firmly in sight for the host nation.

    Canada's ice hockey team recovered their Olympic form when they booked a spot in the semi-finals after a comprehensive 7-3 victory over Russia.

    Corey Perry scored two goals for Canada, who will next face Slovakia on Friday.

    "We did a great job, not only on Ovie (Alex Ovechkin) but against all their top guys,'' Canada goalie Roberto Luongo said.

    "We wanted to not give them much room to skate. We went one-on-one with them and were right on them.''

    Canada's happiness was compounded minutes later as two of the women's bobsleigh teams took the top two medals, the gold going to Kaillie Humphries in a thrilling final that saw a highly rated German team flip over on the fast ice track.

    With a gold that takes Canada to the top of the medal table alongside the United States and Germany, two silvers, a bronze and the big hockey win, Wednesday was definitely Canada's day.

    Going for gold

    The United States, who beat Canada 5-3 on Sunday to claim the top-seeded
    position in the playoff round, advanced to the ice hockey semi-finals by beating Switzerland 2-0. The Americans will face Finland in the next round.

    For all of Canada's medal stash, no Olympic honour is more coveted than the gold one in men's hockey.

    "You want to do well because you're proud and because you think hockey is Canada's game," said Canada coach Mike Babcock after Wednesday's win.

    "Now it's pretty obvious it's the world's game but we still think it's ours and I'm a bit of a redneck so I like to think it's ours.

    After the loss to the US, Babcock told the nation the team had chosen to take a "longer route" to get where they wanted to be.

    Forced to play an extra match to qualify for the quarter-finals, Canada dispatched Germany 8-2 on Tuesday. Twenty four hours later, they lined up for a mouthwatering clash with Russia and dominated from start to finish.

    Canada will face Slovakia, who knocked out 2006 Turin gold medallist Sweden in a 4-3 thriller.

    Disqualified South Korea look on as China celebrate their gold [GALLO/GETTY]
    Winners and losers

    Day 12 of the Winter Games had its notable losers too.

    South Korea were disqualified while they were celebrating what they thought was their victory in women's short track 3,000 metres relay.

    The gold went to China, while the Koreans' cheers turned to tears and they rushed past reporters without stopping to explain what referees deemed a push in the relay exchange.

    It was also a disappointing day for top American skier Lindsey Vonn, the downhill gold medallist who crashed out on a fog-enveloped giant slalom and broke her little finger.

    The giant slalom second leg fell prey to poor weather and will run instead on Thursday morning, with no Vonn and little hope for team mate and defending champion Julia Mancuso.

    In a different type of skiing, Australia's Lydia Lassila flew and spun her way to Olympic gold in women's freestyle aerials, cleanly landing two of the hardest jumps of the day.

    "Ever since I started this sport, I wanted to jump like a man," said Lassila, when asked why she tried such a difficult jump on her first effort.

    Double for Hellner

    Sweden won the men's cross-country skiing relay, with Marcus Hellner pulling away on the last leg for his second gold medal of the Olympics.

    Hellner was joined by Daniel Richardsson, Johan Olsson and Anders Oedergren.

    The Swedes won the 4x10-kilometre race in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 5.4 seconds.

    "It was wonderful, getting to parade into the finish,'' Hellner said.

    "It's something we've all dreamed about doing. It's perfect. We couldn't ask for anything more.''

    Petter Northug used a furious final leg to secure silver for Norway. The Czech Republic took bronze.

    Also, Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic earned her second gold of the Games, winning the women's 5,000-metre speedskating race.

    Meanwhile, Sven Kramer, the Dutch speedskater who was disqualified from the 10,000 after skating in the wrong lane, said he will stick with coach Gerard Kemkers despite the coaching blunder that cost him the gold medal.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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