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Olympic Daily News - Friday, February 21st

<p>Jamie Benn supplied the lone goal of the contest at 1:41 of the second period, and Canada earned the right to defend its gold medal thanks to a 1-0 decision over Team USA in Friday's semifinal of the Sochi Olympics.</p>

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamie Benn supplied the lone goal of the contest at 1:41 of the second period, and Canada earned the right to defend its gold medal thanks to a 1-0 decision over Team USA in Friday's semifinal of the Sochi Olympics.

Carey Price turned aside all 31 shots he faced for the Canadians, who will take on Sweden in Sunday's title contest. The Swedes advanced earlier Friday with a 2-1 victory over Finland.

Canada, which topped the U.S. in a memorable overtime contest four years ago in Vancouver to claim gold, reached the Olympic final for the fifth time since 1992.

Jonathan Quick made 36 saves for the Americans, who must regroup quickly for a matchup with the Finns in Saturday's bronze medal tilt.

The United States, which has a checkered history on the international stage, suffered its first shutout loss in the Olympics since falling 5-0 to Czechoslovakia on Feb. 8, 1976.

Quick, the LA Kings' starting goaltender, was beaten only once. Jay Bouwmeester unleashed a low, hard shot from the left point which skittered into the slot and was redirected home by Benn for the winning margin.

Canada improved to 4-1 in Olympic action against its southern neighbors since NHL players began competing in 1998.

USA defenseman John Carlson released the first quality chance for either side at the six-minute mark of the scoreless opening period, but Price stayed put in his crease to glove down the rising shot with traffic sliding in to his right.

Quick was sharp with 16 saves in the game's initial 20 minutes, while Price was good on 11 shots. Both nations misfired on their respective power-play chances.

Following Benn's marker, the Americans failed to convert two subsequent power- play opportunities, and couldn't dent Price on 11 more shots during the middle frame. Quick was equal to the other 11 pucks he faced to keep it a one-goal margin.

Canada couldn't expand its edge on a hooking call to Phil Kessel just before the midway point of the third period, but its defense did an expert job keeping its foes away from the middle of the ice.

Chris Kunitz had a golden opportunity to expand the Canadians' lead when he was left alone in front of Quick, but pushed his rebound try wide of the far side with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Due to Canadian forechecking pressure, Quick wasn't summoned to the bench for an extra attacker until less than a minute remained, and the Americans couldn't reward his effort with an equalizer.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sweden will play for men's hockey Olympic gold again.

Erik Karlsson snapped a second-period tie with a power-play goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves to lead the Swedes to a 2-1 victory over Finland in Friday's first semifinal of the Sochi Games.

Loui Eriksson also scored for the Swedes, who will meet Canada in Sunday's gold medal game. The defending Olympic champion Canadians advanced with a 1-0 win over the United States in Friday's second semifinal.

Sweden previously won Olympic gold in 1994 and 2006. The 1994 title came against Canada in a thrilling shootout in Norway. It was the last Olympic hockey tournament before the NHL began participation.

The 2006 Olympic championship came at the expense of Friday's opponent, Finland, which has still never won Olympic gold and will play for a bronze medal on Saturday against the United States.

Olli Jokinen scored for Finland, which was without goaltender Tuukka Rask because of an illness. Kari Lehtonen got the start for the Finns and turned aside 23 shots in defeat.

Lehtonen, who started once in the preliminary round and made 20 saves in a 6-1 win over Norway, was solid for most of Friday's contest, but failed to come up with Karlsson's shot late in the second and it proved to be the difference.

With Jokinen in the penalty box for tripping, the Swedes worked the puck around the perimeter on the power play and set up for Karlsson's one-time blast from the center point. Lehtonen may have been partially screened by a pair of Finnish defenders in the slot and the puck squeezed through him for the go-ahead goal with 3:34 remaining.

Sweden nearly extended the lead moments after the opening faceoff of the third period with a 2-on-1, but Lehtonen turned aside Daniel Sedin's shot from the left circle.

The Finns had a power-play opportunity midway through the third, but failed to cash in and didn't have many good scoring chances the rest of the way.

Sweden was unable to convert a 3-on-1 break with 4:45 remaining and the Finns pulled Lehtonen with about a minute to play, but were unable to produce a quality chance with the extra attacker.

Lundqvist, who backstopped Sweden to gold eight years ago in Torino, stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period.

Sweden had the better of the play early, but failed to beat Lehtonen, and Lundqvist made a nice stop on Leo Komarov's 2-on-1 chance midway through the opening period.

Finland didn't do much on an early power play, then had a 5-on-3 for 96 seconds later in the first. Lundqvist, though, made a great right pad save on a shot from the left circle by Teemu Selanne and got help from his defense with five blocked shots during the extended two-man advantage.

The Finns grabbed a 1-0 lead 6:17 into the second period. Jokinen chased down a puck deep in the Swedish zone after officials had waived off a potential icing call and fired a shot from just below the left circle that snuck through Lundqvist. The officials initially ruled no goal, saying the whistle had stopped play, but a review confirmed the puck was in the net before the whistle sounded.

Finland had a chance to expand the lead on a power play soon after and Lundqvist came up with a big stop on a rebound in front. The Swedes then tied it less than two minutes after the penalty expired when Eriksson was left unchecked at the right side of the crease and took a feed from Jonathan Ericsson before sweeping a shot past Lehtonen.


Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won gold in the women's slalom on Friday, becoming the youngest woman to accomplish the feat in the history of the Winter Games at just 18 years old.

Shiffrin posted the top first run time of 52.62 seconds at Rosa Khutor to take a .49-second lead over defending gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany heading into the second run.

Shiffrin, the last of the top 30 skiers to take their final run, nearly lost control midway through her second run, but maintained her balance before flying down the remainder of the course to edge Austria's Marlies Schild by .53 seconds for gold.

A native of Vail, Colo., Shiffrin recorded a total time of 1 minute, 44.54 seconds to become the first American woman to find the podium in Olympic slalom since Barbara Cochran won gold at the 1972 Sapporo Games.

Friday's victory marked the culmination of a dominant past year in slalom for Shiffrin, who won gold at the 2013 world championships and also claimed the most recent World Cup season title in the discipline.

Schild's second run of 51.11 seconds served as the top overall time, but her total time of 1:45.07 forced her to settle for silver. The 32-year-old Austrian collected her fourth Olympic medal and third in the slalom after taking bronze in 2006 and silver in Vancouver four years ago.

Fellow Austrian Kathrin Zettel secured bronze with a total time of 1:45.35, while Hoefl-Riesch, who won gold in the super-combined on Feb. 10 and silver in the Super-G five days later, finished just outside of medal contention in fourth.


Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Ukraine won its first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, claiming the women's 4x6-kilometer biathlon relay over host Russia.

It marked the second medal of these games for the Ukraine, with Vita Semerenko having claimed bronze in the women's 7.5-kilometer sprint back on Feb. 9. Semerenko was the first of four skiers in Friday's relay.

The gold medal comes on the same day reports surfaced out of Kiev that an agreement had been reached between Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and protestors to end the deadly violence that has ravaged the country's capital over the last few days.

Ukraine finished with a total time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 2.5 seconds, putting it 26.4 seconds ahead of Russia.

Norway claimed bronze with a total time of 1:10:40.1, well ahead of the fourth-place Czech Republic.

Semerenko's miss in the second shooting session of the first leg was the Ukraine's lone miss in its first 25 shots as Juliya Dzhyma was perfect in her two shooting attempts. That put her country 26.8 seconds ahead following the second leg.

Things got tighter when Valj Semerenko, twin sister of Vita, had three misses on her second shooting session. Both Russia and Norway went perfect to keep things close.

However, Olena Pidhrushna missed just one shot in the fourth leg to keep the Ukraine in the front of the field.

Russia was denied a third straight gold medal in this event, while the Germans failed to reach the podium for the first time since the first medals were awarded in this event in 1992.

Germany, which took bronze in Vancouver, was 16th after the first leg as Franziska Preuss missed four shots, though solid efforts by Franziska Hildebrand and Laura Dahlmeier in the final two legs got their country up to 11th place.

The U.S. was fifth after the third leg, but Annelies Cook missed twice in both of her shooting attempts as the Americans finished seventh with a total time of 1:12:14.2.


Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Marielle Thompson captured the women's Olympic skicross event Friday over teammate Kelsey Serwa to keep the gold medal in Canadian hands.

Thompson held off Serwa in the four-rider big final as the Canadians easily finished first and second.

Their medal path was made easier after 37-year-old Ophelie David of France -- bidding to become the oldest woman to win a solo event at the Winter Olympics -- fell.

Sweden's Anna Holmlund earned the bronze behind the silver medalist Serwa, who was a front-runner much of the day after posting the top time in the seeding round and winning her 1/8 final and quarterfinal races.

She was at risk of not making it out of the semifinals before reigning world champion Fanny Smith, leading the race, lost speed on a bump near the end of the course to open the door.

Sweden's Sandra Naeslund, 17, won the small final to take fifth place ahead of Austria's Katrin Ofner, Australia's Katya Crema and Smith.

Thompson, who leads the World Cup standings, finished first in her 1/8 final and was fighting for a top-two spot in her quarterfinal when Switzerland's Sanna Luedi fell down the stretch. Thompson won the heat and then beat David in the second semifinal.

Another Canadian, Georgia Simmerling, finished first in her 1/8 final but fell in the quarterfinals and was knocked out of medal contention.

Thompson followed in the tracks of Ashleigh McIvor, who won gold for Canada on home soil at the Vancouver Olympics but has since retired.

Canada's 1-2 finish followed a French medal sweep of the men's event Thursday, led by winner Jean Frederic Chapuis.

The only previous Olympic medalist in the women's field, Marion Josserand of France, was knocked out in the 1/8 finals.

Australia's Sami Kennedy-Sim, who suffered a stroke last April and returned to competition only months later, crashed after losing control around a turn in her 1/8 final and failed to advance.

Germany's Anna Woerner and Chile's Stephanie Joffroy were both taken off the hill on stretchers after separate quarterfinal crashes, further highlighting the danger faced by skiers in an event where they have to race across jumps and around steep turns.

Russia's Maria Komissarova suffered a fractured spine in a training crash last Saturday and had emergency surgery at a hospital built for the Olympics in the most serious injury to an athlete at the Sochi Games.

The United States did not have a skier in the field.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Viktor Ahn's decision to join Team Russia paid off again on Friday as the 28-year-old won the men's 500-meter short track speedskating final.

It marked the fifth gold medal of Ahn's Olympic career and second here in Sochi. He won a trio of golds in 2006 while a member of his native South Korea team, later joining the Russian squad after failing to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Ahn also won gold in these Olympics in the men's 1,000-meter race while taking bronze in the 1,500 meters.

Ahn was bringing up the rear early in the race before making his move into second around the same time China's Liang Wenhao fell. Ahn then overtook China's Wu Dajing, who claimed silver ahead of Canada's Charle Cournoyer.

American J.R. Celski finished second in the B final to claim sixth overall. He was nearly eliminated in the quarterfinals, but moved on after one skater fell and another was disqualified.

Russian Vladimir Grigorev was not as lucky in the quarterfinals and did not advance. He had taken silver in the men's 1,000 meters.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Within an hour of winning individual gold, Viktor Ahn helped Russia take first place in the men's 5,000-meter relay on Friday in short track speedskating at the Sochi Olympics.

Following a breather after winning the 500-meter short track final, Ahn suited up for the four-man Russian relay team and helped the unit post an Olympic record time of 6 minutes and 42.100 seconds. That was just .271 better than the United States.

China finished third with a time of 6:48.341.

Russia and the U.S. were bunched together for most of the race with a comfortable lead over third place. The Americans moved ahead with 14 laps to go, but Russia brought the crowd to its feet by climbing back into first with seven laps remaining.

The U.S. was running out of time to make a move before Ahn skated the final two laps and he did so perfectly, holding off American J.R. Celski.

Ahn won his third gold medal of the Sochi Olympics and sixth of his Olympic career. He claimed a trio of gold medals in 2006 while a member of his native South Korea team, later joining the Russian squad after failing to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In its last chance to pick up a speed skating medal at these games, the U.S. posted a time of 6:42.371 in the silver effort on the short track. The Americans came into Sochi favored to claim medals in a number of speed skating events, but the likes of Shani Davis and Brittany Bowe were shut out time and time again here in Sochi.

The U.S. had won bronze medals in this event in each of the previous two Olympics.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - South Korea's Park Seung-Hi won the women's 1,000-meter short track speedskating event on Friday at the Sochi Olympics, while American Jessica Smith missed out on a medal.

China's Fan Kexin made a late charge in the final to take silver, pushing South Korea's Shim Suk Hee into the bronze spot. Smith finished just behind Shim in fourth.

Park won her third medal of the Sochi Olympics, adding to the gold she took in the women's 3,000-meter relay and a bronze claimed in the shorter 500-meter event. The 21-year-old won two bronze medals in the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

The 30-year-old Smith was pushing for a medal after being on the verge of elimination in the semifinals. She was trailing in the race, won by Park, when Canada's Valerie Maltais wiped out on the final turn despite no contact.

Fellow American Emily Scott, who came in fifth in the women's 1,500 meters, was eliminated in the quarterfinals, as was Italy's Arianna Fontana. Fontana was taking aim at a fourth medal here in Sochi, having previously taken silver in the 500 meters along with a bronze in both the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters relay.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - One day after its women's team finished off a perfect run through the Sochi Olympics, Canada's men's team knocked off Great Britain 9-3 to claim curling gold on Friday.

It was a dominating effort by Canada, which took advantage of nearly every mistake made by Great Britain skip David Murdoch to hold an early lead. Great Britain eventually conceded following the eighth end to settle for silver.

Canadian skip Brad Jacobs led his team to a third straight Olympic gold medal, while Great Britain earned its first curling medal since winning gold in the 1924 Games. Curling did not return as an Olympic event following those Games until 1998.

The Canadian's women's team won curling gold on Thursday, besting Sweden to go 11-0 in the tournament.

Canada jumped out on top with a quick deuce in the first end and then bunched a number of stones in the house to come away with three points and a 5-1 edge after three ends.

Great Britain had a chance to pick up some points in the fourth, but Murdoch failed to keep his stones in the house and Canada stole a point.

Murdoch finally managed to curl a point in the fifth end, but Canada came back with a deuce in the sixth end to all but seal the outcome.

The win gave Canada three golds and two silvers in men's curling since the sport's return to the Olympics.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Sweden tied the match on a measurement in the 10th end, then earned two points in an extra end Friday to beat China 6-4 in the men's curling bronze medal match at the Sochi Olympics.

It was the first Olympic medal for the men's team since a silver at the 1924 Chamonix Games.

China's men's team remained without a medal in Olympic play. It missed winning bronze by mere millimeters on a close measurement in the 10th end -- its stone rested beside Sweden's just outside the button.

China had a stone removed in the ninth end because it wasn't released before the line.

Sweden made it through the tournament with two losses -- to Denmark in round- robin play and to Great Britain in Wednesday's semifinals. It also needed an extra end to beat China 6-5 in round-robin play last Friday.

The Swedish women's team has been wildly successful since the sport returned to the Olympics in 1998, winning two golds and four medals overall, including a silver in Sochi.

China went 7-2 in round-robin play in Sochi, then lost 10-6 to Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Netherlands continued its quest for another speedskating gold at the Sochi Olympics Friday, securing a spot in Saturday's gold medal race in the men's team pursuit.

The Dutch trio of Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer and Koen Verweij bested France by nearly 10 seconds in the quarterfinals before nearly lapping Poland en route to an easy semifinal victory at Adler Arena.

The Netherlands has won four of the five golds awarded in men's speedskating in Sochi so far and will look to add another on Saturday when it takes on Korea in the final.

Korea claimed its spot in the gold medal race by edging defending Olympic champion Canada in the first semifinal.

Denny Morrison, who already has a silver and bronze medal in Sochi, got the Canadians out to an early lead, but Joo Hyong Jun, Kim Cheol Min and Lee Seung Hoon battled back and pulled away late to send Korea into Saturday's final.

Before the Netherlands and Korea battle for gold, Canada and Poland will square off to decide the bronze medal winner on Saturday.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dutch speedskating trio of Jorien ter Mors, Lotte van Beek and Ireen Wust set an Olympic record Friday in the quarterfinals of the women's team pursuit.

The Dutch women crossed the finish line in 2 minutes, 58.61 seconds to claim the fourth quarterfinal heat over the United States.

Ter Mors, Wust and van Beek pulled off a medal sweep in the 1,500 earlier at these Games and have combined for six speedskating medals in Sochi, including four from Wust.

Japan, the reigning silver medalist in the team pursuit, topped South Korea in heat three to advance to Saturday's semifinals, where the Netherlands awaits.

Saturday's other semifinal will pit Russia against Poland after both teams won their respective heats on Friday.

Russia battled back to edge Canada by less than a second in the first quarterfinal heat, while Poland claimed the second heat comfortably over Norway.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Julie Chu won't walk away from the Sochi Olympics with a gold medal but she will carry another symbol when the Winter Games come to a close.

The four-time Olympian was selected by Team USA members to carry the United States flag at Sunday's closing ceremony, the United States Olympic Committee announced Friday.

Chu is a 31-year-old forward on the women's ice hockey team, which fell to Canada in overtime Thursday in a thrilling -- and heartbreaking for the U.S. -- gold medal game.

It was Chu's third Olympic silver medal. She also has a bronze.

"I'm completely humbled and kind of in shock; I never imagined that this would happen, especially knowing how strong the U.S. delegation is," Chu said in a statement released by the USOC.

"Our team has so many inspiring athletes who I've gotten a chance to root for. This is special and I don't take it lightly."

Chu is the second ice hockey player to serve as U.S. flag bearer after Cammi Granato, who was chosen for the honor in 1998 after leading the U.S. to the first Olympic gold medal in women's hockey.

Nordic combined athlete Todd Lodwick was the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony on Feb. 7.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The German Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday that biathlete Evi Sachenbacher failed a doping test at the Sochi Games.

The 33-year-old's A and B sample tested positive for methylhexanamine and she was subsequently sent home from the Olympics.

Sachenbacher was competing in her fourth Olympic Games, but went without a medal in five events. Her best finish was fourth in the women's 12.5-kilometer mass start and in the mixed relay.

The German Olympic Committee said on its website that Sachenbacher's positive test came after the mass start.

Sachenbacher has won five previous Olympic medals, including gold four years ago in the team free sprint and in the 4x5-km relay at the 2002 Games.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The Italian Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday that bobsledder William Frullani was removed from the Sochi Olympics following a positive drug test.

According to a release by the committee on its website, Frullani tested positive for the stimulant dimethylamphetamine.

The 34-year-old Frullani was scheduled to be part of Italy's four-man bobsled team in the first two of four heats on tap for Saturday, but will be replaced by Samuele Romanini.


Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - French biathlete Marie Laure Brunet is resting according to the French Olympic committee after she collapsed during the women's 4x6-kilometer relay on Friday.

Brunet was the first skier for the French and had gone a perfect 5-for-5 in the shooting session before needing to be carried off the course following her medical incident.

According to the CNOSF, Brunet has returned to the Olympic Village and is resting.

France was given a DNF in the relay. The 25-year-old Brunet was part of silver-medal winning relay team in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, where she also won bronze in the 10-km pursuit.

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