18 Feb 2010, Thurs. Day 7 of the Vancouver Olympics was all about tough athletes going for glory!
In the 15km women's biathlon, Tora Berger of Norway surprises the competition by winning the gold! This gold medal marks the 100th medal Norway has won in both summer and winter Olympics. Elena Khrustaleva takes the silver, giving Khazakstan its first ever winter Olympic medal. And it's a bronze for Darya Domracheva of Belarus.
Big news in the fast and furious world of women's super combined slalom--where you race down a ski hill and then zag zig around obstacles. American Lindsey Vonn crashed in the slalom, taking her out of the race. Germany's Maria Riesch takes the gold, and American Julia Mancuso takes the silver, adding to yesterday's silver medal in the alpine downhill. But it's bronze medal winner Anja Paerson who is the hero of the day!
Yesterday, Anja Paerson had a horrific crash on the downhill skiing, slamming hard into the gate and smashing into ice and bouncing and sliding hard for a very long time. It looked like she was going to need a stretcher when she just laid there for a minute. But the tough competitor was helped off the field. Anybody else would've been out of the Olympics to recover for at least a week. But today, she charges down the hill and takes the bronze, proving what a tough and gutsy athlete she truly is. And this bronze win, a 6th Olympic medal, ties the record for the most decorated athlete in alpine skiing, male or female. And how does Anja Paerson celebrate winning an Olympic medal? By doing her trademark move, the "saelen",
which is Swedish for seal; and the American translation: crazy, because only a nut case would deliberately jump face down on the ice after crashing hard on it the day before! This woman is a warrior!
In the women's 1000m speed skate, World Champion Canada's Christine Nesbitt won gold! Born in Melbourne, Australia, she originally started out in short track speed skating. She applied to McGill University in Toronto, the home of Canadian short track, but she was rejected. She was accepted at the University of Calgary, and since they had a long track program, she decided to give it a try. And that wasn't the only great decision she's made in her career. Last year, she started training with the men's team, undergoing the same rough and tough training they endure, and she's been unbeatable since! Netherlands Annette Gerritsen gets silver and her teammate Laurine van Riessen, the bronze.
In the men's 20km biathlon, Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway claims gold! But in a surprise dead heat, Belarus's Sergey Novikov and Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen share the silver! That's right! They share the silver! No bronze in this event! Sergey Novikov's silver medal win is fantastic, especially since he's never made it to the top 10 of any major event!
In the high flying world of women's halfpipe, there were so many falls from the top competitors, leaving the field wide open. And it was Torah Bright who wins Australia's first gold medal of the Vancouver Olympics! She fell in her first attempt, but she rallied hard in the second attempt, doing daring moves and getting big air to beat out American favorites. American Hannah Teter takes the silver and her teammate, Torino gold medalist Kelly Clark, wins the bronze.
That's right, mate! I wore my gold pants to match my gold medal!
And perhaps the biggest event of the night was the men's free skate figure skating final. It was the spectacular clash of the figure skating Titans. And it was absolutely thrilling!
It was full of drama!
Japan's Nobunari Oda, 4th after the short program, had a Tonya Harding moment, when his lace broke in the middle of is performance! And ever since that Tonya Harding moment, a rule was put into place that a skater only had 3 minutes to fix the equipment problem or be disqualified! And he fixed it in under 3 minutes! I luved how he just picked up his performance where he left off, knowing he wasn't going to medal. And the audience cheered him on for his valiant effort. Had that lace not broken, he could've been on the podium. But look out for him, because this young guy is a superstar in the making.
Come to think of it, a lot of these Asian kids are going to be figure skating superstars come the Sochi Olympics in 2014!
It wouldn't be figures skating without the horrendous fashion!
Corn for sale!
A pack of wolves attacked me and ripped my costume!
The Silence of the Lambs!
Well, hello Clarice!
Once again Vera Wang designed Evan Lysacek's costume. It's less hideous than the one before, but it's still awful!
Come on, Vera! Jeweled snakes!?! Really!?! Why didn't you just give him a big hat and a large purse to take to his Ladies Luncheon!?!
But in the end, after so many other competitors fell and made mistakes, it was up to the top 3 men to battle it out for the gold.
Japan's Daisuke Takahashi fell and it cost him the gold! But he recovers very well enough to secure the bronze.
The stage was now set for returning Torino gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko and World Champion Evan Lysacek to fight for the gold. And the winner would finally answer the question of whether the new judging system truly rewards the athletic or the excellence. Has the artistry been diminished in the sport?
Evan Lysacek performed magnificently, executing his elements with excellence. The quality of his skating was his best performance, unmatched by the other competitors. He flowed smoothly and easily in his program, but was it enough to win the gold? He'd have to wait anxiously to find out until Evgeni Plushenko, the last skater of the night, would take the ice.
Evgeni Plushenko's incredible jumps were unmatched. He commanded the ice with his presence and exhibited his power early in the program, using as many tough jumps to gain as many points as possible. But would it be enough to win the gold? It was a tense moment as his scores were being tallied.
And in the end, the goddess of figure skating does it again, she forged another champion:
Evan Lysacek wins the gold by 1.31 points!
He didn't need to do a quad jump! He just had to skate clean. And for the first time under the new judging system, the message was clear: Overall excellence wins over athletics. It's not enough to just do the difficult jumps; you have to execute them flawlessly and your overall program must be efficient and be of high quality. It's not just the tricks anymore; you need overall talent and polish.
And with his gold medal win, Evan Lysacek continues the tradition of American World Champions who win Olympic gold. It is a record unlike any other in figure skating, because most World Champions fail to win the Olympic gold, unless you're an American! It started with Dick Button (1948/52), Hayes Alan Jenkins (1956), Scott Hamilton(1984), and now Evan Lysacek continues this amazing feat.
Evgeni Plushenko performed very well for someone who just returned to skating less than a year ago. Under the old scoring system, he would've won. But it's a new world of figure skating he returns to. And it's a changed world where new Olympic talents have overthrown the old pantheon of figure skating titans.
What a spectacular ending to a glorious competition! And we're just in the middle of the figure skating sports. The most crooked and scandalous sport in all of the winter Olympics, ice dancing, starts tomorrow!