Fischbacher upsets Vonn as Ammann makes history
VANCOUVER — Austria’s Andrea Fischbacher upset American speed queen Lindsay Vonn to win the women’s Olympic super-G final on Saturday as Simon Ammann become the first ski jumper in history to win four individual golds.
After claiming the downhill title, Vonn crashed out in the super-combined and wanted to bounce back in the super-G but Fischbacher basked in the glory, relieving pressure on Austria’s under-fire team by winning their first ski gold of the Games.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze was a surprise silver medallist with Vonn relegated to third.
Fischbacher’s medal comes in the wake of huge criticism of Austria’s ski ‘Wunderteam’ which has failed to shine in Vancouver after dominating at Turin four years ago.
“In the speed disciplines we didn’t have great results. We’ve not been leading by example, but we’ve shown that if everything goes okay you can be the best,” said Fischbacher.
“I didn’t believe it when I saw my name on top of the leaderboard. It’s just a dream come true.”
Vonn, touted before the Games as a favourite to win three gold, insisted that winning her second medal was more than she bargained for.
“Any medal at the Olympics is already a success, and you have to be really proud of it,” she said.
The action got underway as luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was buried in the Georgian ski resort of Bakuriani with unanswered questions about his death hanging heavy over the ceremony.
Grief over the 21-year-old’s tragic end during a training accident on the eve of the opening ceremony mingled with anger over claims that Kumaritashvili, and not the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre, was to blame for the accident.
“What can I say? Our family is devastated. But what I do know is that this was not caused by a mistake by Nodar,” his father David told AFP.
Ammann conquered his nerves to claim the large hill title, following on from the normal hill title he bagged a week ago.
He previously pulled off the double at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
“I’m speechless. What can I say? I was so nervous. It was a nerve-wracking experience,” said Ammann, who recorded jumps of 144m and 138m to beat off Poland’s Adam Malysz and Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer.
Sweden’s Marcus Hellner claimed gold in the gruelling men’s cross-country pursuit.
Three more medals are decided Saturday, with China’s dominant Wang Meng aiming to add the women’s 1,500m short track speed skating title to the 500m one she already has.
Men’s short-track skater Apolo Anton Ohno can become the most medalled American Winter Olympian in the 1,000m, but his South Korean rivals are burning to stop him.
The 27-year-old, who grabbed silver in an incident-marred 1,500m final, is one medal away from surpassing his own and long-track speed-skating legend Bonnie Blair’s US Winter Olympic record of six medals.
Another American, Shani Davis, goes for a golden double in the 1,500m speedskating final, hoping to add it to his 1,000m crown.
Meanwhile, superstar South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na took to the ice for the first time after being mobbed by 300 reporters on her arrival Friday evening.
The world champion pin-up has dominated the season and is hot favourite to become her country’s first Olympic figure skating champion, with the short programme kicking off competition on Tuesday.
She practised triple-triples Saturday but left the talking to coach Brian Orser.
“Now it’s her time to focus on herself,” Orser said of an athlete ranked by Forbes as the top earning Winter Olympian alongside snowboarder Shaun White after pocketing eight million dollars last year.