VANCOUVER - If Canada wants to Own the Podium, it might need to buy it from the United States. - Feb 18, 2010 -
Americans dominated from the mountains to the city Wednesday, winning six medals, including golds in womens downhill, mens 1,000-meter speedskating and mens snowboard halfpipe. That set a U.S. record for a single day of the Winter Olympics (five medals, including three golds, at Salt Lake City in 2002).
Its history, man, said Shaun White, who won gold in mens halfpipe. Shake n bake.
Its an unbelievable feat and for us to be a part of it is an honor, said Chad Hedrick, who took bronze in speedskating. Im proud to be an American. Im proud to represent my country. We work hard to have the people in their living room watching us [be] proud.
The pride was shared throughout Team USA. And there was no better visual to end it than the soaring sight of White, red hair flapping behind him as he nailed the groundbreaking Double McTwist 1260 where he flipped twice while completing 3½ revolutions to secure his snowboard gold.
Even more breathtaking, he didnt even need to attempt it.
I just felt like I didnt come to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns, White said. It was the savvy thing to do. Saucy. Keep it weird.
By not playing it safe or keeping it weird he offered up the ultimate testament to the Americans superior athleticism, daring creativity and a go-for-broke attitude.
The medals left the United States atop the total count with 14. Germany is second at 10, France has 7.
Canada made winning the most medals a priority and spent $118 million on the Own the Podium project. Its currently in fourth with just six, to go along with a sink hole, a broken ice surfacing machine and a failed hydraulic system for an Opening Ceremony cauldron.
Ah, we kid, we kid. The competition is far from over and theres no reason to get the Canadians all fired up (they might take it out on us in curling). Then again, Thursday also looks good for the Americans, with Lindsey Vonn skiing up in Whistler, womens snowboard pipe going on at Cypress Mountain and the mens figure skating free skate taking place in Vancouver.
Each is considered a likely medal opportunity for the United States.
The haul Wednesday came from all directions. Some, such as White and Vonn winning gold, were predicted.
I think Americans tend to do well at big events, said Vonn, who shook off her bruised shin to crush the competition in womens downhill. Im really psyched.
If anything, the day showed the depth of the American team. Vonn is the worlds best and her blistering trip down the mountain in 1:44.19 was proof of it. Forget the sore shin, Vonn said she had so much adrenaline she couldnt feel a thing. It helped not to think about the pain, she said
Meanwhile, White showed hes at a different level when it comes to the halfpipe, nailing maneuvers that no other competitor could even attempt. Then there was Shani Davis, who duplicated his gold in the 1,000 meters from Turin by pumping his arms and using every last bit of energy to win by a mere 0.18 seconds.
It doesnt matter what it looks like, just as long as you get across the line as quick as you could, he said with a laugh.
Best of all, it occurred in front of cheering speedskating sponsor Stephen Colbert, who in the spirit of diplomacy and not getting beaten up took back his claims that Canadians were ice-holes at a morning, downtown appearance. See, Americans can be magnanimous winners.
No less impressive were the other podium participants. Julia Mancuso had gold in her sights until Vonn flew by and dropped her to silver. They swung an American flag together in celebration. To come out of the race here with a silver feels great, Mancuso said.
Scott Lago couldnt fly with White, but he was more than saucy (as White would put it) enough to edge out the field for bronze.
Then there was Hedrick, who won three medals in Turin, thought he was done with the sport earlier this year after becoming a new husband and father. After an eight-month layoff, he decided to give it one more crack and said the bronze felt as good as the gold he won four years ago. With his best event, the 1,500 meters looming Saturday, he may not be done.
Neither is the rest of Team USA.
What is next? White said. Sleep. And then take on the world.
Its so far, so good here at the Winter Olympics.