NEWS UPDATE: Maria Riesch of Germany won the women's super-combined gold at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on Thursday. American Julia Mancuso took the silver and Anja Paerson of Sweden the bronze after race leader Lindsey Vonn crashed in the slalom after winning the downhill leg of the combined.
American Shaun White won gold in men’s snowboard half pipe competition Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Peetu Piroinen of Finland won silver, and Scotty Lago of the U.S. won bronze.
White clinched the gold with his last run, that ended in a Double McTwist with a 1260 finish on his last hit. Click here to see the move.
Earlier in the day, U.S. skiers Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso won gold and silver medals in women's downhill. Austrian Elizabeth Goergl won the bronze. Vonn put up a blistering run, finishing 0.56 seconds ahead of Mancuso, and 1.46 seconds ahead of Goergl. Those margins are a lifetime in a sport often decided by hundredths of a second.
Vonn's is the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in women's downhill, and the 25-year-old American said her victory was made even better by Mancuso finishing second.
"It's one of the most incredible moments of my life," Vonn said. "When I crossed the finish line and saw my name in first and Julia's second, it was just the coolest thing."
Vonn's bruised shin did not, in the end, interfere with her racing.
"I feel like I've achieved so much in my career but the Olympics are something I've never accomplished. This is something I've dreamed of since I was 9 years old," Vonn said.
Marit Bjoergen of Austria won the gold medal in women's individual sprint classic cross country. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland won silver, and Petra Majdic of Slovenia won bronze.
Majdic, a favorite to win gold, slid off the course during a warm up earlier in the day, tumbled into a ravine, and injured her ribs. She had to be helped back onto the course. She went on to race in the medal event, but the Slovenians speculated her fall hampered her performance.
Branislav Dmitrovic, a spokesman for the Slovenian team, said the course was very fast and dangerous, unlike the soft snow of the past few days.
Canadian skier Sara Renner said Majdic hit a very icy corner. "Petra is really tall and so she has a lot of distance to fall," Renner said.
Nikita Kriukov of the Russian Federation won gold in men's individual sprint classic cross country. Alexander Panzhinskiy of the Russian Federation won silver, and Petter Northug of Austria won bronze.
Weather woes are an ongoing theme of these Games, as the Vancouver Organizing Committee has canceled all general admission standing room tickets for Olympic men's and ladies snowboard half pipe Feb. 18, ski cross Feb. 21 and 23, and snowboard parallel giant slalom Feb. 26 and 27 because of lack of snow at Cypress Mountain.
Heavy warm rains on Saturday and Sunday have made the general admission standing room area at the Cypress snowboard stadium unsafe for spectators. The rains washed away almost a foot of snow in the standing room area.
VANOC said there is insufficient snow to move and build the standing room area back up at the Cypress snowboard stadium, and ensure enough snow in competition venues.
“Our senior management and venue team have spent significant time on site to try and find a way to accommodate spectators in the standing room areas for the events. We’ve exhausted all avenues but it just wasn’t possible to make the area safe for spectators,” said Caley Denton, VANOC’s vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing.
Sking and snowboarding medal events scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18 are: women's 15k individual biathlon; women's super combined slalom; men's 20k individual biathlon; and women's snowboard half pipe.