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Olympic Roundup: Oshie becomes new U.S. sporting hero

Feb. 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM   |   Comments

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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. speed skating team changed Olympic uniforms Saturday and found it made no difference. Maybe they could have used what T.J. Oshie was wearing.

In a hockey game that meant very little in the overall scheme of things but which obviously meant everything to those playing in it, the United States defeated Russia in a renewal of one of the greatest rivalries in international sports.

The game went on and on and on until Oshie, taking time off from his regular job with the St. Louis Blues, scored his fourth shootout goal in six tries to give the Americans a 3-2 win.

It was not a game for the gold medal. It was merely a game to determine which of the teams would have an easier path into the quarterfinals of a tournament that still has a long way to go.

But from the atmosphere in the arena to the reactions of the players when something significant occurred, it eventually became clear that this was a game to be remembered.

Olympic victories are always remembered by those who achieve them and there were some achieved at the midway point of the Games Saturday that were out of the ordinary.

The first two finishers in the men's 1,500-meter speed skating race, for instance, were separated by .003 of a second. It even took a while for the computer to spit out the final result.

There was also a huge comeback in the women's cross-country relay and a second gold medal in as many Olympics for a short-track skater from China.

The Netherlands even claimed a medal somewhere other than at the speed skating oval, although it came as no surprise that the medal still came from somebody wearing skates.

Russia was the only nation with two gold medals Saturday, those coming from Alexander Tretiakov in men's skeleton and Victor Ahn in the 1,000-meter short-track race. Ahn is a citizen of Russia and this was his sixth Olympic medal. Four of those, however, came when he was representing his native South Korea.

There were three medals in all for the Russians, giving the host country 15 for the Olympics. That is the most for any country -- the Netherlands and the United States having picked up 14, Norway 13 and Germany 12.

The only medal for the Americans Saturday came from Matthew Antoine in the skeleton.

The U.S. speed skating team created a stir Friday by making a request to change out of the uniforms that had been created for these Olympics and into something with which they were more familiar.

The new outfits just did not seem to be doing the job and if it helped psychologically to change then medals might follow. After all, there had been none for the Americans in speed skating over the first six events at the Olympics.

There were still none Saturday after the men's 1,500-meter race. The best any American could do, wearing an old suit, was Brian Hansen's seventh place. Shani Davis came in 11th.

The mood in the American hockey camp was much livelier, especially after Oshie scored in the eighth round of the shootout against the Russians.

There was something of everything in the spectacular hockey game. The Americans came from behind and so did the Russians. Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks had a breakaway in the third period for the Americans, but Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets stopped the shot.

Russia appeared to have delivered a go-ahead goal with less than five minutes left in regulation, but a dislodged net negated the score. That bit of controversy was focused upon by the Russians as having cost them the game.

When the shootout arrived after 65 minutes of pulsating hockey, things really got interesting.

If a shootout goes more than three rounds in international play, the same player can shoot time after time if that is what a coach wants. Oshie wound up doing just that, taking six shots in all during the shootout.

He scored in the first round, answered a goal by Russia's Pavel Datsyuk in the fifth round and did so again in the sixth after Ilya Kovalchuk had scored. When Kovalchuk was stopped in the eighth round by Jamie Quick, Oshie had the chance to win it. He sent a shot between the legs of Bobrovsky that touched off an American celebration.

"I was running out of moves," Oshie said.

A win for the Americans Sunday against Slovenia will give the United States first place in Group A and a position in the quarterfinals. Sweden wrapped up Group C Saturday with a 5-3 win over Latvia. Canada and Finland will play for the Group B crown Sunday.

Back at the speed skating oval, Zbigniew Brodka of Poland and Koen Verweij of the Netherlands at least briefly appeared to have turned in the same time in the 1,500-meter race. Verweij was in the last pairing and his time of 1:45.00 equaled that of Brodka.

But then a new set of results appeared on the scoreboard and when carried to three decimal places Brodka was awarded the gold medal in 1:45.006. Verweij's time turned out to be 1:45.009.

Charlotte Kalla of Switzerland began the final leg of the 4x5-kilometer cross-country relay 25.7 seconds behind. She made up the difference, passed her rivals in the home stretch and became the first athlete in these Olympics with three medals.

Zhou Yang of China won the women's 1,000-meter short-track race for the second straight Olympics after three of the seven competitors in the final, including American Emily Scott, were wiped out in a crash. Poland's Kamil Stoch won his second ski jumping gold of these Games with a victory on the large hill.

In the 1,500-meter race won by Ahn, the bronze went to Sjinkie Knegt. There have been 14 medals handed out to Dutch athletes at these Olympics and his was the first one won by somebody who is not an oval track speed skater.

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