GAMES WRAPUP Americans grab 25 medals, but fell short of goal



Bode Miller's disaster overshadowed most of the victories by the U.S.
TURIN, Italy (AP) -- Across 16 days in Turin, the U.S. Olympic team teetered somewhere between torment and triumph, each step up to the medal stand tempered by one step back somewhere else.
There were unlikely Alpine golds from skiers Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety. And the disaster in the mountains that was Bode Miller and his tattered reputation.
Speedskater Joey Cheek set a standard for Olympic class, winning two medals and donating his $40,000 reward from the U.S. Olympic Committee to a charity for children trapped in war zones. Teammates Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis typified something less than class, fussing and fighting like second-graders in a sandbox.
A kid dubbed "The Flying Tomato," Shaun White, sailed into the sky above Bardonecchia to claim a gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe. Another snowboarder, Lindsey Jacobellis, hot-dogged her way out of a gold medal in a still-stunning turn of events that typified a growing Generation X Games gap among the Americans.
Less medals than in 2002
By the time the Turin two-step was done, the final medal total left the U.S. somewhere between total success and perceived failure. The collection of 25 medals -- 9 gold, 9 silver, 7 bronze -- was far less than the record 34 of 2002, but nearly double the previous high of 13 from 1994 and 1998.
Cynics might observe the Olympics have added 16 new medal sports since the '98 Nagano Games, several in U.S.-friendly events.
It was the most medals ever won by the Americans in a foreign Winter Olympics, and left the U.S. second only to Germany's 29 medals. The head of the USOC was quick to spin it as success, while acknowledging others might see it differently.
"This has been an incredible performance," Jim Scherr said. "It's probably a little bit our fault that this team has been viewed as a little less than that because of the high expectations we all had coming into these games."
Major disappointments
No one came into the games with higher expectations than Miller and Hedrick, each entered in five events. Miller won nothing; Hedrick epitomized the yin/yang of the Americans in collecting a gold, silver and bronze between yapping with Davis.
Almost lost in the backbiting was Davis' Jackie Robinson moment, a gold medal in the 1,000 meters that made him the first black athlete ever to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Olympics.
The U.S. medal haul came from their domination in men's long-track speedskating and snowboarding, with seven medals apiece. Short track skater Apolo Anton Ohno added a gold and two bronzes, one of the latter in a relay event.
The news wasn't as good elsewhere in the Piedmont region.
Hockey was a dual disappointment: The professionals from the NHL looked like amateurs, winning a single game. The women -- gold medal finalists in 1998 and 2002 -- settled for a bronze. The women speedskaters were shut out. Michele Kwan, plagued by a groin injury, never reached the ice.
The Alpine team, the self-proclaimed "Best in the World," boasted of a potential eight-medal haul -- and won two.
There was some good news. Tanith Belbin, a Canadian who won American citizenship on Dec. 31, came to Turin and won a surprising silver medal with ice dancing partner Ben Agosto on Feb. 21.
Stunning upsets
There were other stunners, too: Shauna Rohback, cut from a medal-winning sled before the 2002 games, coming back to win a silver with teammate Valerie Fleming in the bobsled. Three-time Olympian Rosey Fletcher, a self-described "dark horse," grabbing a bronze in the snowboard parallel giant slalom.
The U.S. men's curling team swept through the competition to grab a bronze -- the first American Olympic medal in the sport.

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