Nes­bitt nabs gold while men’s hockey squad nar­rowly avoids Swiss de­feat


VAN­COU­VER— First, Chris­tine Nes­bitt couldn’t be­lieve she had won. Then Canada couldn’t be­lieve they al­most didn’t.

Joy nearly turned to pain Thurs­day as Nes­bitt’s long-track speed­skat­ing gold in the women’s 1,000 me­tres was abruptly up­staged by a nerve-rack­ing Cana­dian men’s hockey game that was way closer than it should have been.

Sid­ney Crosby scored in a shootout to fi­nally dis­patch the same stub­born Swiss team that beat Team Canada 2-0 in the 2006 Turin Games, an early loss that many none­the­less blamed for the team’s dis­mal sev­enth-place show­ing. Crosby scored the shootout win­ner on his sec­ond at­tempt against goal­tender Jonas Hiller as the Canada edged its 2006 neme­sis 3-2 in their sec­ond game.

It very nearly tar­nished the gleam of Nes­bitt’s gold, which she claimed by not quite the nar­row­est of mar­gins — two one-hun­dredths of a sec­ond — in what she later de­scribed as a less-than-stel­lar per­for­mance.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it, I did not think it was good enough,” said the 24-year-old from Lon­don, Ont., stunned as she ac­cepted hugs and ac­co­lades af­ter the race, and sheep­ish as she as­cended the podium dur­ing the flower cer­e­mony.

An­nette Ger­rit­sen and Lau­rine van Riessen, both of the Nether­lands, claimed the sil­ver and bronze medals.

Kristina Groves, who has al­ready claimed bronze in the 3,000 me­tres, fin­ished fourth — miss­ing out on an­other medal by six one-hun­dredths of a sec­ond. Shan­non Rem­pel, 25, and Brit­tany Schus­sler, 24, both of Win­nipeg, fin­ished 21st and 25th.

If Nes­bitt’s medal was a shock to her, Lind­sey Vonn’s fail­ure to win an­other was a shock to every­one else.

The Amer­i­can ski star, looking for gold for the sec­ond straight day af­ter gut­ting out a win in the pre­vi­ous day’s women’s down­hill, needed only to make it through her run to claim a podium fin­ish in the women’s su­per com­bined.

She didn’t.

Vonn, nurs­ing one of the most talked-about shin bruises in mod­ern alpine-racing his­tory, missed a gate mid­way through her race, blew a ski and skid­ded dis­mally out of con­tention, watch­ing the gold go in­stead to close friend Maria Ri­esch of Ger­many.

U.S. skier Ju­lia Man­cuso took sec­ond, while Anja Paer­son of Swe­den — fear­less de­spite a fright­en­ing crash on the same run on Wed­nes­day — took the bronze.

Top Cana­dian hon­ours went to Shona Rubens of Can­more, Alta., who fin­ished 12th.

On the half-pipe at Cy­press Moun­tain, Aus­tralia’s To­rah Bright aced her sec­ond run af­ter bail­ing out of her first, claim­ing the gold medal over Amer­i­can ri­val Han­nah Teter. Kelly Clark, the 2002 cham­pion, won bronze.

Mercedes Ni­coll, 26, from Whistler, B.C., the only Cana­dian in the fi­nal, fin­ished sixth. Sarah Con­rad, 24, of Dart­mouth, N.S., made it to the semi­fi­nals but failed to string to­gether two clean runs.

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