Upgrade in mettle
U.S. HOCKEY forward Julie Chu, playing in her fourth Winter Games, has two silver medals and a bronze.
Yesterday, after the U.S. outshot Sweden, 70-9, en route to a 6-1 victory that propelled the Americans into the finals, she only had one thing on her mind.
"We're going for a different color this time," she said.
The U.S. will play three-time defending champion Canada, which defeated Switzerland, 3-1, yesterday, in Thursday's final.
Megan Bozek and Brianna Decker each had a goal and two assists for the Americans, who have medaled in every Olympics since the women's event was added at the 1998 Nagano Games.
The American won gold that year, beating - who else? - Canada, which has medaled in every final.
The U.S. lost to its neighbors to the north in the gold-medal game in 2002 and 2010 and, more recently, 3-2, in last Wednesday's preliminary round.
On Thursday, U.S. coach Katey Stone will be rooting for Chu to get her elusive gold medal.
"It's time," said Stone, who was also Chu's coach at Harvard. "Julie's been everything to the program, she's been a youngster, she's been a veteran . . . she's been a mother to the younger kids. Kids like that don't come around all the time. She's a special one. I certainly hope she gets what she wants."
The U.S. scored its first five goals on Valentina Wallner on 47 shots. She was replaced by Kim Martin Hasson, the winning goaltender when Sweden beat the Americans in Turin in 2006. Hasson had 22 saves on 23 shots but it was too little, too late.
"We took Valentina out because she had a busy day at work," said assistant coach Leif Boork, whose team will face Switzerland in Thursday's third-place game. "We wanted to make a decision for the next game, the bronze medal game."
Anna Borgqvist scored on a deflected shot past U.S. goalie Jesse Vetter, who had eight saves, with just under 7 minutes remaining to spoil the shutout.
Bode: Take it easy
A lot of people think NBC's Christin Cooper was insensitive in asking American skier Bode Miller about his late brother in a postrace interview.
Miller's tearful reply was aired via tape delay during prime time causing many to criticize Cooper for bringing up the subject.
Yesterday, Miller asked those people to back off.
"I appreciate everyone sticking up for me," Miller tweeted. "Please be gentle w christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault. #heatofthemoment"
Miller's younger brother Chelone, a competitive snowboarder, was only 29 when he died last year of an apparent seizure.
Star with violin
If Alpine skier Vanessa Vanakorn doesn't do well in today's giant slalom . . . well she's got something to fall back on.
Vanakorn, 35, is a professional violinist who performs under the name Vanessa-Mae. She has sold over 10 million records and recorded with several big-name stars, including Janet Jackson and Prince.
Born in Singapore and raised in London, she competes for Thailand. In 2006, she was named England's wealthiest artist under 30.
"People are surprised when they see me skiing - a classical violinist, Oriental, who has lived in the city all her life," Vanakorn told British reporters before arriving in Sochi. "But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I'm determined to do."
Airing it out
Bad toilets, bad water and bad air. A Sochi trifecta from hell.
Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal decided yesterday that he wouldn't compete in his final race - tomorrrow's giant slalom - because of allergies "from the concrete [dust] that's in the air."
"There's a lot of athletes that have some kind of allergy against something here," Svindal said. "I think it's something from the concrete that's in the air, like some fine dust. When I got here, I felt it, too. The doctors knew exactly what it was, because they gave me allergy medicine right away. It helps, but it's kind of draining."
The dust didn't seem to bother Svindal's teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, who won a gold in the super-G and a bronze in the downhill.
Fog-get about it
The Flyers did it. The Eagles did it. The men's snowboardcross competitors? They bailed.
Yesterday's competition was was postponed because of heavy fog.
The race will be held today but there will be no qualifying heats. The racers will be bracketed accoring to their world ranking.
The weather had been sunny and warm until yesterday.
"I called it as soon as I got here, that there would be bad weather on the day I race," Australian snowboardcross racer Jarryd Hughes said. "It can't stay sunny the whole time for that long."
Fog also postponed the men's 15-kilometer mass-star biathlon for a second time. It will also be held today.
In the 1975 Stanley Cup finals, the Flyers played the Sabres in Buffalo in a game shrouded by fog due to warm temps in the arena. That game also featured a bat that flew around throughout the game, which the Flyers lost, 5-4. The Flyers went on to win the Cup, 4-2.
In 1988, the Buddy Ryan-coached Eagles lost a divisional playoff to the Bears in Chicago, 20-12, in a game blanketed by fog. Even so, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham managed to pass for 407 yards.
Kovalchuk has Answer
Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk did not practice yesterday in preparation for today's game against Norway.
Kovalchuk missed some time in the second period of Sunday's win over Slovakia with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Yesterday, his coach, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, said the star is not injured but needs, "just a rest."
Through an interpreter, Kovalchuk said, "We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice."
The U.S. men and women curlers didn't fare well in Sochi.
The men finished in next-to-last place, while the women were last.
That brought up the question: Should the U.S. re-evaluate?
Many countries, including Britain, Russia and China, spend big money to assemble elite teams.
That's not the case with American curlers, who form their own teams and do the best they can to improve.
Erika Brown, for example, is a 41-year-old physician's assistant and mother of two who practices curling during her lunch break.
And she likes it that way.
"I'm not in support of that," Brown said when asked about a U.S. elite team. "Just because, as somebody who has been in this game for so long, it's about the team and about relationships you develop."
Rick Patzke, chief operating officer of USA Curling, said he sees both sides of the issue.
"I think you need to have a program that funnels the right people to the top," he said. "We have always tried to embrace the traditions and culture of the sport but, on the flip side, if we aren't in the Olympics, how much interest are we losing? I think there has to be an understanding in the organization: Are we all in, in pursuit of medals? Or do we just have one foot in? There'll be good discussions in the coming weeks."
And you thought all you needed was a good stiff broom.
Oh Meier, can you see?
You knew this was coming.
Some Russian ice hockey fans stood in front of the U.S. Embassy protesting the goal that was disallowed in a shootout loss to the United States on Saturday.
Seems the fans think that referee Brad Meier, an American, did a little home cookin' when he reviewed, and subsequently waived off, Fyodor Tyutin's possible game-winner.
There was even a large sign, that, when translated, read that Meier needs glasses.
Funny people, those Russians