24 Feb 2010, Wed. Day 13 of the Vancouver Olympics was full of dramatic action as athletes competed for gold and glory. Some came in heavily favored to win, only to have their fortunes changed unexpectedly!
Exciting news in the men's 4x10km cross country relay! Sweden wins gold, for the first time since 1988! Norway takes silver, and the Czech Republic takes bronze. The Norwegians were a heavy favorite for gold in the race, but this Olympics, the Swedes came out and took a huge lead in the final leg of the race, guaranteeing the gold.
The lead was so huge, that Sweden's Marcus Hellner stopped by the crowd to pick up a Swedish flag and then continued on to cross the finish line, all while twirling his flag as if he were in a parade instead of a race!
And it was Johan Olsson, who pushed the lead far ahead in the second leg of the relay, giving the Swedes the huge lead that let anchor Marcus Hellner stop and smell the roses. With Andre Soedergren and Daniel Richardsson, the Swiss take first place in a thrilling relay race.
In the women's 5000m speed skate, Czech Republic's Martina Sablikova takes another gold, adding to her 3000m gold and surprise 1500m bronze. Stephanie Beckert of Germany takes silver, and Canada's Clara Hughes wins the bronze.
It's a sweet bronze win for Clara Hughes, at 37, she is one of the oldest competitors on the ice. This was her last Olympics. It is an extraordinary swan song for the legendary Clara Hughes, who is one of only four people to have ever won both summer and winter Olympic medals! And she's the only one in Olympic history to have multiple medals in summer and winter Olympics! She won 2 cycling bronzes in the 1996 Atlanta summer Olympics, a bronze in 5000m speed skating in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, gold and silver in the 2006 Torino Olympics. Truly, she is an Olympic legend, and what a brilliant end to an amazing career!
And in the wild and unpredictable sport of short track, the women's 3000m relay was full of excitement and stunning action! South Korea, going for their 3rd Olympic gold in the event, was up against China and Canada. The US made the fourth team in competition, but they were the weakest, and they were left far behind while South Korea and China battled it out for first! Canada was assured the bronze.
And in the final laps of the race, South Korea's Kim Min-jung bumped China's Sun Linlin, causing her to stumble and lose momentum.
Hey! Get your hand off my boobie!
South Korea raced ahead to finish first and they grabbed their flag and did victory laps around the ice! China and Canada also did victory laps for their medals while the US finished so far behind.
But wait! Something was up! They were taking too long to put up the final standings. The refs were talking with the officials. Tension was in the air. The noise died down as the official walked over to China's team and coach. The whole arena was watching. What was going on? Then the the Chinese team screamed and jumped in the air! It was official! South Korea was disqualified!
Oh, the shock! You better believe South Korea is up in arms over this! China moves up to gold! Canada takes the silver, and the US got lucky, bumped up to bronze!
That's right! Oh, the shame! Pink shoes and gold shoes with blue spandex? You better hide your faces!
Oh, how fortunes and fates change in the fickle and fierce sport of short track speed skating!
And more excitement in women's bobsled! Some of the gold medal favorites crashed hard on the track! Luckily, no serious injuries, and the athletes were able to walk on their own power. In the end, it was a 1-2 finish for the host nation! Canadian pair Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse win gold, and their teammates, Canadians Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown, get the silver!
Americans Erin Pac and Elana Meyers take the bronze. It's an incredible surprise bronze for the Americans, as they're not even considered the top American team! They've only been together for 3 years. Elana Meyers originally trained to be in softball, hoping to make it to the Olympics. But since the IOC removed softball from the summer Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Meyers decided to try the bobsled. And she teamed up with Erin Pac, who had just transitioned from being brakeman to pilot and was searching for a partner. It's an amazing victory for the rookies, winning a medal in the event!
Finally, big news in the women's aerials. This high flying sport is a combination between ski jumping and trampoline and diving, as athletes ski off a ramp, fly in the air, do amazing flips and turns high in the air before landing on the snow! It's a dazzling display of skill and beauty, full of danger with a high risk of catastrophic crashes!
Medal faves China, who are coached by Canadian Dustin Wilson, a former Australian aerials head coach, did very well. They've dominated the international competitions in recent years.
XinXin Guo of China jumps to bronze!
And China's Nina Li flies to silver, repeating her silver win at Torino.
China's gold medal fave, Mengtao Xu, was the last to ski to secure the gold. And she took off, reaching for the skies and the gold medal!
But she landed horribly and crashed! In an instant, she was knocked out of the podium!
And it was a flying Kangaroo, Lydia Lassila, of Australia who soars to gold!
It's an amazing performance from Lassila, and a wonderful win for Australia, which continues to be the first and only southern hemisphere nation to medal at the winter Olympics! It's a fantastic end to a great day of competition. And it just goes to show that anything can happen in the Olympics, no one is guaranteed a medal, no matter how heavily favored, fortunes can change in an instant.