Kramer vs. Him­self

Sven’s stum­ble hands 10,000-me­tre gold medal to Lee

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

RICH­MOND, B.C. (AP) — World cham­pion speed­skater Sven Kramer lost an Olympic gold medal with an em­bar­rass­ingly sim­ple mis­take on Tues­day which gave the 10,000me­tre ti­tle to South Korea’s Lee Se­ung-hoon.

Kramer, the world-record holder, was on pace for his sec­ond gold of the Van­cou­ver Games, and ac­tu­ally fin­ished four sec­onds ahead of Lee. But the Dutch­man was dis­qual­i­fied for fail­ing to switch lanes prop­erly on the 17th of 25 laps, ap­par­ently on in­cor­rect in­struc­tions from his coach.

Kramer had raised his arms in tri­umph as he crossed the lane, but later threw his glasses away in dis­gust. He’d sus­pected there was a prob­lem be­fore the fin­ish.

Lee won with a time of 12 min­utes 58.55 sec­onds, break­ing the Olympic record of 12:58.92 set by Jochem Uyt­de­haage of the Nether­lands at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. The sil­ver went Ivan Sko­brev of Rus­sia (13:02.07). De­fend­ing Olympic cham­pion Bob de Jong, Kramer’s team­mate on the Nether­lands team, ended up with bronze (13:06.73). No Cana­dian skaters were in the event.

“I ex­pected to be on the podium but not for the gold,” Lee said. “I could not have re­al­ized that this would have hap­pened. Sven Kramer is a great skater.”

Sko­brev em­pathized with Kramer, say­ing the pres­sures on ath­letes at the Olympics can help pro­duce such men­tal er­rors dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

“It’s not only pres­sure for your legs and your body, it’s also pres­sure for your head,” said Sko­brev. “Did you see how many Dutch were in the ice rink to­day? Ev­ery­body was try­ing to help Sven. I re­ally feel sorry for him. To­day my medal was bronze. I’m happy with a sil­ver but I don’t think it’s right.”

Kramer had dom­i­nated the 5,000, set­ting an Olympic record, and seemed cer­tain to be­come the fourth ath­lete from his speed­skat­ing-mad na­tion to sweep the two long­est events on the men’s pro­gram.

The er­ror came on the 17th lap as Kramer came off the first turn in the in­side lane, which meant it was time for him to shift over to the out­side by the end of the back straight. In long­track speed­skat­ing, com­peti­tors switch lanes each time they go down the back­stretch to even up the dis­tance they cover. WEST VAN­COU­VER, B.C. — Cana­dian Ash­leigh McIvor is the first Olympic women’s ski-cross cham­pion.

The 26-year-old na­tive of Whistler, B.C., led from start to fin­ish to win gold Tues­day at the Van­cou­ver Win­ter Games, where ski cross is mak­ing its Olympic de­but.

Hedda Berntsen of Nor­way won sil­ver at Cy­press Moun­tain while Mar­ion Josserand of France took the bronze.

Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., just missed mak­ing the fi­nal to fin­ish fifth. Ju­lia Mur­ray of Whistler, B.C., fin­ished 12th while Danielle Po­leschuk of Win­nipeg fin­ished 19th un­der grey skies at Cy­press Moun­tain.

McIvor is the de­fend­ing world cham­pion and won a World Cup sil­ver medal on the Cy­press course just over a year ago. She is ranked sec­ond in the World Cup stand­ings. She said she felt ready to race. “I just felt re­ally comfortable, and at home, ob­vi­ously, and it’s a good at­mos­phere for me,” she said. “I spent way too much time brac­ing for the nerves that I thought were go­ing to hit in the last few years, and it never re­ally did. I was pretty calm the whole way through, and just looking for­ward to each run. I was like, ‘Let me go, let me go.”’

Top-ranked Ophe­lie David of France crashed in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

The high-drama event fea­tures four skiers nav­i­gat­ing a course with bumps, jumps and turns in a race to the fin­ish line.

There were some spec­tac­u­lar crashes on Tues­day.

Action was tem­po­rar­ily halted af­ter Rus­sia’s Yu­lia Livin­skaya crashed hard dur­ing the first heat of the elim­i­na­tion round.

Livin­skaya, who qual­i­fied last in the 32-skier field, lost her bal­ance in the air and landed awk­wardly, slid­ing an­other five me­tres on her side be­fore com­ing to a stop. Medics at­tended to her im­me­di­ately.

In qual­i­fy­ing, Ruxan­dra Nedelcu of Ro­ma­nia, who trains in North Van­cou­ver, crashed heav­ily com­ing off the last jump and was also taken off the hill on a stretcher with an ap­par­ent leg in­jury. She gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as she was taken away. VAN­COU­VER — Cana­dian curler Ch­eryl Bernard has stolen her way to the No. 1 seed at the Van­cou­ver Olympics.

Bernard picked up four steals against 19-year-old Bri­tish skip Eve Muir­head Tues­day en route to a 6-5 win. With the victory, the Cal­gary skip im­proved her round-robin record at the Win­ter Games to 7-1 and as­sured her rink top seed for Thurs­day’s semi­fi­nal play­offs.

“ That was again one of our bet­ter games, up in the top cou­ple of per cent,” Bernard said af­ter the win.

Then, in what may be a ter­ri­fy­ing re­al­iza­tion for the rest of the field, she added: “I still think there’s room, I think we can im­prove a lit­tle bit more.”

Bernard, a 43-year-old from Cal­gary, will open the play­off round against two-time Olympic sil­ver medal­list Mir­jam Ott of Switzer­land on Thurs­day. Bernard beat Ott 5-4 in her Games de­but with a har­row­ing draw in the 10th end.

The loss was the first of three in a row for Ott to start the tour­na­ment, though she re­bounded by winning her next five con­tests.

Bernard said she, third Su­san O’Con­nor, sec­ond Carolyn Dar­byshire, and lead Cori Bar­tel ex­pect to be in a tough match against the Swiss team Thurs­day.

“ We’re go­ing to have to play like we’ve been play­ing, even a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” she said.

Tues­day’s game ended sim­i­larly to the first four Bernard played at th­ese Games — she won it with her fi­nal stone, show­ing a flair for the dra­matic that’s earned her the nick­name “Last Shot.”

But the match was hardly close through­out, as Muir­head strug­gled to find her feel for the rock.

The Bri­tish skip missed rou­tine draws with her ham­mer in the sec­ond, sev­enth and eighth ends, al­low­ing Canada to steal points all three times.

Muir­head charged back to score two in the ninth to cut Bernard’s lead to 5-4, then stole a point in the 10th to force an ex­tra frame.

But that’s where the Olympic dream ended for the three-time world ju­nior cham­pion, who closed out the tour­na­ment los­ing her fi­nal five de­ci­sions af­ter start­ing 3-1.

“ We missed a few cru­cial draws out there that kind of slipped ... but I think we def­i­nitely got our heads held high and went out there and fought for two in the ninth end,” she said.

“But Ch­eryl’s play­ing fan­tas­tic out there and I’m sure she’s go­ing to be the team to beat.”

As for the woman Bernard will meet in the semi­fi­nal, Ott said she’s feel­ing con­fi­dent af­ter open­ing

McIvor was Canada’s first ski­cross racer to se­cure a spot on the Olympic freestyle team — which served as both a bless­ing and a curse for McIvor. She was thrilled to have a Games spot locked up well in ad­vance, but the early nom­i­na­tion only made the wait that much more dif­fi­cult.

Tues­day’s per­for­mance made it worth the wait.

A nat­u­ral dare­devil, McIvor be­gan ski­ing down her par­ents’ car­peted steps at age two. As a child, she spent her sum­mers travers­ing rugged ter­rain on her bike, the tour­na­ment with losses to Canada, China and Swe­den.

“ We knew we had a hard start and we had very close losses and we were still con­fi­dent,” Ott said. “It was tough for us to keep go­ing on but we did it well and I’m proud of my team.”

Ott said she has played Bernard in tour­na­ments be­fore and watched a few of her games.

She said it will be hard enough tak­ing on the Cana­dian rink — never mind the bois­ter­ous fans.

“I hope it will be a good game and a tough game and that there are some peo­ple cheer­ing a lit­tle bit for us,” she said.

The bad news for Ott might well be that the three teams she lost to in the round-robin are the three in the play­off round along­side her.

Swe­den and China will meet in the other tour­na­ment semi­fi­nal.

“Our goal com­ing here was to be in the play­offs so we are there now so we’re very happy with that,” Swedish skip Anette Nor­berg said af­ter a 10-6 win over Ja­pan that im­proved her team’s record to 6-2. and her win­ters blaz­ing down the ski hill.

She be­came so good at both that she rou­tinely skied with and against boys at the Whistler Moun­tain Ski Club, and raced them on her bike. And she won — a lot.

That com­bi­na­tion of nat­u­ral skill and com­pet­i­tive fire made ski-cross the per­fect sport for McIvor, whose promis­ing alpine ski ca­reer was cut short at 16 when she broke her leg at the na­tional cham­pi­onships at Sun Peaks. Fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult twoyear re­cov­ery, McIvor was drawn to ski cross af­ter watch­ing it on video.

Af­ter winning her first-ever ski­cross race seven years ago — and sub­se­quently qual­i­fy­ing for the X Games — McIvor was hooked. Spon­sors and ski com­pa­nies lined up right away, rec­og­niz­ing that the com­bi­na­tion of movie-star beauty and raw tal­ent made her an in­stant su­per­star.

She en­joyed plenty of suc­cess in X Games, and spent time ex­treme ski­ing in North Amer­ica. But it wasn’t un­til 2006 that McIvor be­gan re­al­iz­ing the Olympics might be in her fu­ture.

Amid ru­mours that ski cross would be added to the Olympic pro­gram, McIvor wrote an es­say for her Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia English class on why it should be a Win­ter Games sport — com­par­ing it to BMX Racing, which was about to make its Sum­mer Olympic de­but in Bei­jing.

Ski cross gained en­try with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s ap­proval in Novem­ber 2006. Af­ter be­ing one of the first ath­letes named to Canada’s na­tional team, McIvor made reach­ing the Games one of her pri­mary goals, cut­ting her 2007-08 World Cup sea­son short to have a se­ri­ous shoul­der in­jury re­paired.

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