J.R. Celski, Shani Davis continue struggles of U.S. speedskating
The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times
SOCHI, Russia — Maybe it wasn’t the suits after all.
After shedding their new, high-tech skinsuits for their old-fashioned gear, American speedskaters still were without a medal at the Sochi Olympics.
Zbigniew Brodka won Poland’s first gold medal in the men’s 1,500 meters, finishing 0.003 seconds ahead of Koen Verweij of the Netherlands. It was one of the closest 1,500 finishes in Olympic history.
Verweij’s silver medal gave the Dutch 13 of the 21 medals awarded so far in the sport, including four golds. Americans Brian Hansen finished seventh and Shani Davis was 11th in the men’s 1,000 meters Saturday.
On the short track, Federal Way’s J.R. Celski, the top U.S. male skater, was second when he hit a block and crashed, and teammate Eddy Alvarez tripped because Canada’s Charles Hamelin fell in front of him. And Chris Creveling finished third in his heat, one position short of moving to the semifinal.
Speedskater Emily Scott was knocked down in the women’s 1,500-meter final Saturday. Scott, 24, took an early lead, but about halfway through the race Korea’s Kim Alang wiped out and sent the Springfield, Mo., native into the pads at Iceberg Skating Palace. Scott finished in fifth.
“I saw her out of the corner of my eye going down so there was nothing I could do at that point,” Scott said.
Scott had advanced to the final after Korea’s Cho Ha-Ri was penalized in the semifinal. Cho had appeared to push away against Scott, who was trying to move in for position. China’s Zhou Yang took gold, followed by Korea’s Shim Suk Hee and Arianna Fontana of Italy.
Norway denied in cross-country
Norway’s women cross-country skiers were another group whose past success failed to carry over into the games. The Norwegian women had not lost a 4x5-kilometer relay since 2009 and entered Saturday’s race as huge favorites, with a team that featured the top four skiers in the overall World Cup standings.
Charlotte Kalla erased a 25-second deficit on the final leg to give Sweden the gold in the relay. Finland finished second to win silver, and Germany took bronze. Norway was well behind in fifth.
“It is tough to see because we are so good in relay, we have always been so good, many seconds before the other girls,” said Heidi Weng, who skied the first leg for Norway. “And today others were better than us.”
The U.S. team of Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop, Liz Stephen and Jessica Diggins was ninth.
In other events
• The Canadian women’s curling team qualified for the semifinals with a 5-3 win over Russia and is now 7-0 in pool play.
Things kept going south for the U.S., which is already eliminated from medal contention. The Americans gave up two points in the final end to lose to Sweden, 7-6. If was so close, it required a measuring to determine the last point.
• In ski jumping, Kamil Stoch of Poland pulled off a sweep of the individual golds when he won the large hill. Last Sunday he took the gold on the normal hill. Noriaki Kasai of Japan won the silver, and Peter Prevc of Slovenia took the bronze.
No U.S. jumper advanced to the final. Nick Fairall placed 35th, Nick Alexander was 48th and Anders Johnson was disqualified.