Colorado

Feb 25, 2010 2:57 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Rachael Flatt to skate for medal tonight

USA Medal Count  Gold: Silver: Bronze: 12

Colorado Springs' Rachael Flatt will skate in the medal round in Women's Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver tonight.  After skating a personal best on Tuesday night, she's in 5th place entering the long program.

South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na will try to hold on to her lead, although the most anticipated appearance might be that of Canada's Joannie Rochette.  She was third following the short program Tuesday with a courageous performance two days after the sudden death of her mother.  Rochette fought back tears for her entire heart-wrenching short program, but when she finished, she let them flow.  Technically, her skate was almost perfect.  Emotionally, it was draining.

Kim is the reining world champion and favorite, but close behind her in second is rival Mao Asada of Japan. The two have battled it out on the ice and continually challenge one another. Asada is one of the few women in the world who trains for the triple axel, and she's the only one to do two of the 3½-revolution jumps in the free skate.

ALSO ON TONIGHT:

Women's Giant Slalom

Organizers hope the weather will ease up in Whistler so the women can finish their second run of the giant slalom. Dense fog postponed the event yesterday. Snow and rain are forecast but organizers are going to try to wrap up the event. Despite the weather, the first leg had plenty of action. Lindsey Vonn broke her right pinkie after losing control in the middle section of the course. Then, right behind her, American and defending champion Julia Mancuso had her run interrupted due to Vonn's crash. Mancuso went back up the hill and placed 18th, 1.30 seconds behind Elisabeth Goergl of Austria. She led the opening leg in 1 minute, 15.12 seconds. Taina Barioz of France was only 0.02 behind, and Kathrin Zettel of Austria was third, 0.16 back.

Women's Ice Hockey

It's no surprise that the United States and Canada are in the gold medal game in women's hockey. It's a great rivalry in this sport, in part because there are no others. Canada and the United States have won all three gold medals in Olympic women's hockey and all 12 world championships. The two teams have blown through opponents in this competition, leaving little suspense until now. In one game, Canada beat Slovakia 18-0. In all, Canada has outscored its four opponents 46-2 while the U.S. has won by a combined 40-2. That dominance fueled talk women's hockey might be in danger of going the way of softball, which was voted out of the Summer Games by the International Olympic Committee in 2005 when it appeared the U.S. had little competition in the sport. Finland and Sweden play for the bronze.

Men's Aerials Skiing

Americans Ryan St. Onge and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson are in the finals in the men's freestyle aerials. They'll be twisting, turning and flipping with ten other competitors atop Cypress Mountain. Defending Olympic champion Han Xiaopeng of China and this year's top jumper, Anton Kushnir of Belarus, both did not qualify for the finals. St. Onge was second in qualifying, Peterson fifth. Han and Kushnir fell on their second jumps. St. Onge says he has had a lot of trouble landing this year and described his qualifying jumps as unbelievable.

Nordic Combined

It's nearly time for the final Nordic combined race at the Winter Olympics and the Americans have a chance to improve on an already historic performance. Johnny Spillane has a silver in the normal hill race, and the U.S. team grabbed silver in the relay. Now Todd Lodwick, Spillane and Billy Demong all have a chance to win the final Nordic combined race. U.S. coach Dave Jarrett can easily envision another podium celebration after the 10-kilometer race that follows a jump off the large hill. Jarrett says he likes the Americans chances just as much as any other team. They'll have plenty of competition, though. Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis, the World Cup leader who edged Spillane by less than half a second for gold a week ago, poses a strong threat for another win. Norway's Magnus Moan and Austria's Felix Gottwald had medal chances in the first individual race were ruined when they had poor jumps after long delays caused by shifting winds. They still managed to ski the two fastest times around the cross-country course.

Men's Curling

Sweden is riding high in men's curling after shocking the reigning world champion British men's curlers in a tiebreaker. The Swedes now have a date with top-seeded and unbeaten Canada in the semifinals. Niklas Edin was the hero for Sweden which got a 7-6 victory in an extra 11th end to secure their spot in the semifinals. Edin says his team has little experience and nothing to lose. In the other semifinal, Switzerland and Norway will play.

Women's Curling

The Canadian women's curling team has been almost as dominate as their male counterparts. The women were 8-and-1 in group play and are the top seed in the semifinals. They'll meet Switzerland while China and Sweden will play in the other semifinal. Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard has reached stardom with a special showing at the Vancouver Games, but she is fighting a nasty cold. She says she's not too worried it will affect her. Bernard says she is happy that her team gets to start off with the hammer. That's the advantage of throwing the last rock in the opening end.

Women's Cross-Country Relay

Medals will be handed out in the women's cross country four-by-five kilometer relay. This event pits country against country, with four skiers from every nation skiing one leg each. Rather than using a baton as in running, exchanges are made by touching a teammate in the back.

 

TOMORROW:  the U.S. men's hockey game will air LIVE on KOAA-TV, News First 5 starting at 1pm (semi-final versus Finland)

For more Olympic coverage, please click here.

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