Vancouver Olympics medal count: US chances for Day 15

The US may have to rely on short track to increase its Vancouver Olympics medal count on Day 15. But bobsled and men's hockey could take big steps toward medals today.

By , Staff Writer

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    Short track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno (in blue) is America's best chance to pump up its medal count on Day 15 of the Vancouver Olympics.
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America had a great day yesterday with one gold and three silvers, putting itself in position to win the Winter Olympics’ overall medal count for the first time since Lake Placid 1932 and only the second time ever.

Thursday's Vancouver Olympics medals were from:

Gold: Bill Demong (Nordic combined)

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Silver: Johnny Spillane (Nordic combined), Jeret Peterson (aerials), women’s hockey

USA now holds a 32-26 lead on Germany with three competition days left. It is tied with Germany and Canada for the gold medal lead, with eight.
This puts the Americans within reach of their highest-ever medal total (34) and most-ever golds (10), both records from the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

Here is a brief look at American chances in medal events for Friday, Day 15.

Curling (women): Canada is favored to pick up its ninth gold here when it plays Sweden in the gold-medal match. In the bronze-medal match, China might be a slight favorite against the Swiss – China is the up-and-comer, but Switzerland has past Olympic experience (and medals).

• American medal chances: none

Biathlon (women’s 4x7.5 km relay): The French enter the relay with two of the world’s top biathletes (brothers) anchoring the team. The Norwegians, with Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, are always a threat.

Before the Games, the US seemed a dark horse, but they’ve done little to justify that here.

• American medal chances: slim

Alpine skiing (women’s slalom): This could be a race for combined winner Maria Riesch of Germany to shine. She’s the best all-around skier on the World Cup and ranked No. 1 in slalom. Austrians Kathrin Zettel and Marlies Schild are also favorites.

Lindsey Vonn is the only legitimate medal contender for the US, and she’s a distant one, having only one World Cup podium finish in the discipline this year. Her broken pinky could be particularly problematic in the slalom, which is the most battering race.

• American medal chances: slim (Lindsey Vonn)

Hockey (men's): It's not a medal event today, but if Team USA beats Finland in the semifinal it will be assured at least a silver – and probably a rematch with Canada. The US has put together an excellent teamm and it will face the same challenges it did against Switzerland, only more so. The Finns are well-organized and more talented than the Swiss. But the US, too, is well-organized and talented. If all goes to form this will be tough, grind-it-out hockey.

Even if they lose, however, they'd have a good shot at a bronze against probable foe Slovakia.

• American medal chances: fairly good

Snowboard (women’s parallel giant slalom): This is the one snowboarding event where the traditional European Alpine powers traditionally dominate. The twist this year is that Dutchwoman Nicolien Sauerbreij is a medal favorite. Otherwise, expect Alpine nations on the podium. The US has only one entrant.

• American medal chances: very slim (Michelle Gorgone)

Bobsled (four man): The final heats aren’t until Saturday, but heats 1 and 2 are Friday. The USA 1 sled, piloted by Steven Holcomb, is ranked No. 1 in the world and enters as the favorite. USA 2, piloted by John Napier, also has a decent shot at a medal. The competition will come from – surprise! – the Germans.

• American medal chances: very good

Short track (men’s 500 meters, women’s 1000 meters, men’s relay): A good rule of thumb is always to assume China and Korea will medal – except when they get disqualified. Korea, China, Canada, and the US dominate the sport and account for almost all the medals.

The Chinese probably have an edge over the Koreans in the women’s race. The men’s race will (again) probably come down to the Koreans against Apolo Ohno and Canadian Charles Hamelin. The Koreans will be strongest in the relay, followed by Canada and then the US and China.

• American medal chances: (men’s 500) fairly good; (women’s 1000) fairly slim; (men’s relay) fairly good

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