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Olympics wrap: Kramer's gaffe makes wrong kind of memory

USA ups medals count to 26, most for Winter Games outside the country

Posted: February 23, 2010 9:39 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2010 9:04 p.m.

Ashleigh McIvor of Canada celebrates as she crosses the finish line to become Olympic champion in the women's skicross at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010.

 
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Of all the kooky, costly mistakes made in popular North American sports, it's hard to find anything that compares to the gaffe made today by Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer.

Maybe if Vikings coach Bud Grant had been the one telling defensive end Jim Marshall what to do when he scooped up a fumble and ran to the wrong end zone - and if that had been in the Super Bowl.

Bode Miller made the kind of mistake today that happens in skiing, especially for a risk-taker like him.

But Kramer's gaffe? Unbelievable.

He went through the grueling 10,000-meter race in what would've been record time, but was disqualified for not switching lanes while coming out of a turn about two-thirds into the race.

It cost him the gold.

Here's the craziest part: Kramer actually made the switch but his coach missed it. Thinking his star was about to make an epic mistake, the coach animatedly motioned for Kramer to switch lanes. Kramer seemed to pause before deciding to follow orders.

That's how off-the-charts this was.

Kramer certainly should've known better. This is a guy who's won the last three world championships at 5,000 and 10,000 meters; holds the world record at both distances; and already won gold and set an Olympic record in the 5,000 at this Olympics.

"I've seen it once or twice in my career," former speedskating champion Dan Jansen said on NBC, "but never with a top skater and certainly never in the Olympic Games."

All Miller did was lose control and fail to finish his first run down the giant slalom course.

He missed his chance for a record fourth Alpine medal at a single Winter Games. But he notched what could be called a Bode Slam: a gold, a silver, a bronze and a DNF (did not finish).

Elsewhere around the Vancouver Olympics on Tuesday, Canada's hockey team bounced back with an 8-2 victory over Germany.

The Americans won silver in the Nordic combined, making it 26 medals at these games, breaking their record for a Winter Olympics not held in the United States.

With a silver in the women's skicross race, Norway became the first country to reach 300 Winter Olympics medals. Norway became the first country to reach 100 golds last week.

Nasty weather moved back into the area Tuesday, especially in the mountains, which could mess with the schedule Wednesday.

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SPEEDSKATING
Sven Kramer crossed the line with a big smile, believing he'd won. He obviously didn't notice that he had skated the final eight laps in the same lane as the other skater in his pair.

The only hint was seeing his girlfriend in the stands, her head buried in her hands.

When coach Gerard Kemkers broke the news, Kramer flung his glasses, then stomped the heel of his blade into the ice. Just like that, Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea had the gold and Kramer moved into Olympic infamy, like the U.S. shooter who blew a sure gold medal by shooting at the wrong target during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"I expected to be on the podium but not for the gold," said Lee, who won silver in the 5,000.

Kramer sat alone on a bench while the three medalists celebrated.

"It is pretty hard now," Kramer said.

Jonathan Kuck was the top American, finishing eighth.

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GIANT SLALOM
Bode Miller almost crashed during the top half of his run, straightened out, then couldn't stay on line coming out of a gate in the second half.

"I'm taking more risk than everyone else," Miller told The Associated Press. "That's partly why I'm able to get medals. It looks easy when you make it. When you crash like today, it's like, 'Oh, huh?'"

It shouldn't have been much of a surprise: he's yet to finish a run this season in the giant slalom.

His final event is the slalom Saturday.

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway got bronze, joining Miller with three Alpine medals. American Ted Ligety finished ninth.

The women's event is scheduled for Wednesday, but rain and snow is forecast. That will be Julia Mancuso's final event in Vancouver. Mancuso, who already has won two silver medals, said she won't be competing in the slalom, her worst event.

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HOCKEY
Jarome Iginla scored twice and new goalie Roberto Luongo was good enough to get the Canadians back on track and into a colossal quarterfinal game against Russia, a matchup many expected for the gold-medal game.

"Hopefully it's not our biggest game this week," Luongo said.

The U.S. men's team will face Switzerland (again) in the quarterfinals. The Swiss advanced with a 3-2 shootout victory over Belarus. The Americans beat them 3-1 last Tuesday.

Later Tuesday, the Czech Republic faced Latvia to see who would play 2006 silver medalist, and Slovakia faced Norway to see who would play Olympic champion Sweden.

All quarterfinals are Wednesday.

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NORDIC COMBINED
Johnny Spillane became the first American to win a medal in this event, getting silver earlier in these games. Now he's got another - and sharing it with his friends.

The team of Spillane, Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong and Brett Camerota was a narrow second in the team relay event, which combined jumping off the large hill, then a 4-by-5 kilometer relay.

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FIGURE SKATING
American Mirai Nagasu had her best score ever in the short program. Imagine if her nose hadn't started bleeding halfway through.

Nagasu, the 2008 U.S. champion, said she fears the bleeding kept from doing ever better and will keep her from winning a medal.

"I'm happy in my first Olympics that I didn't fall yet," the 16-year-old said. "I felt all the support and hope I can do better in the long program."

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BOBSLED
Midway through the women's competition, the USA-2 sled of Erin Pac and Elana Myers is in second place. The Americans set a track record in their second run, only to have the Canada 1 crew lower it by four-hundredths of a second.

Two other U.S. tandems are tied for sixth.

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BIATHLON
About the only thing that went wrong for the Russians was no one near the finish line offering up their flag. That was why Olga Zaitseva slowed to the finish and ended up giving high-fives and blowing kisses.

The Americans were 17th.

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SKICROSS
What a way to break in a sport: Ashleigh McIvor, who grew up in nearby Whistler and is ranked second in the world, won the final going away.

"Skicross is the newest form of ski racing, but in its essence, it's been around forever," she said. "It's racing your friends from the top of the mountain to the bottom. The IOC is really interested in keeping up with the next generation, and keeping the Olympics cool, and skicross is a great way to do that."

___

CURLING
A day after the U.S. men were eliminated, the women were, too, following a loss to China.

The American women are 2-6, worst in the field, going into its final match of the opening round, against Switzerland on Tuesday night.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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