Austria takes gold from U.S.

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WHISTLER, British Columbia --- Skis too slow for a snowstorm did in the Americans, still stuck with a golden goose egg in Nordic sports at the Winter Games.

Austria's Mario Stecher knew he had the better skis in the Nordic combined 4x5-kilometer team relay and stayed in American Billy Demong's slipstream much of the final lap, finally zipping past him on the last downhill and cruising into the stadium for a 5.2-second victory Tuesday.

"I had a little bit more speed," Stecher said, "and the skis were a little bit better, too."

No matter, the U.S. team was perfectly satisfied with its second silver of the Vancouver Games; nine days ago, Johnny Spillane won the first U.S. Olympic medal in Nordic combined. Germany won bronze, finishing 19.5 seconds back.

"It's an Olympic medal," proclaimed Todd Lodwick, the only five-time U.S. Olympic skier. "We won silver today, and that's huge. It's huge for us. It's huge for the team. It's huge for the morale of everybody."

SKICROSS: Shredding powder. Dropping off cliffs. Chasing boys down the mountain. Had they awarded gold medals for those pursuits when she was a kid, Ashleigh McIvor figures she might already have a closet full of them.

Not surprisingly, then, McIvor is the first Olympic champion in women's skicross, the sport created to harness all that backcountry energy into a real competition.

WOMEN'S BIATHLON RELAY: Olga Zaitseva easily protected a large lead on the final leg as Russia defended its Olympic title.

After Olga Medvedtseva had practically guaranteed the win for the Russians by pulling away on the third leg, Zaitseva had plenty of time on the final straightaway to enjoy the victory, slowing up and blowing kisses to the crowd as she entered the ski stadium.

CURLING: Anette Norberg and Sweden improved to 6-2 in round-robin play with a shortened 10-6 victory over Japan, setting up a semifinal Thursday as the No. 2 seed against world champion China.

Cheryl Bernard pulled out another big shot in extra ends for the favored Canadian women (7-1), who locked up the No. 1 spot with a 6-5 victory over Britain.

BOBSLED: Showing off a home-ice advantage, Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse drove Canada-1 into the lead after the opening two runs of the women's bobsled competition, setting track records both times down. Still, they only lead USA-2, with Erin Pac driving and Elana Meyers pushing, by 0.13 seconds entering today's deciding heats.

Germany-2, driven by Cathleen Martini, is third.


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