USA Wins 4 Medals on First Night of Competition

By Brandon Penny — 02/14/10
Team USA is off to a triumphant start. Saturday night, the Americans went from zero to hero in one hour when two short track speedskaters and two moguls skiers catapulted the United States to the top of the medal count.
The nation has had high expectations of Apolo Anton Ohno for these Olympics. And he did not disappoint in his Vancouver debut. In the finals of the 1500-m short track competition, Ohno weaved his way from seventh to first in the first few laps. But in the final lap of the race, Ohno wound up in fourth behind a trio of South Korean skaters. Just meters away from the finish line, Koreans Sung Si-Bak and Lee Ho-Suk knocked each other out of the race and crashed into the boards. They ended their own hopes of a Korean podium sweep.
Ohno won the silver medal when he crossed the line 0.365seconds behind Korea’s Lee Jung-Su. Fellow American speedskater J.R. Celski finished right behind Ohno to win the bronze medal. This was the 19-year-old’s first Olympic final. The California native started speedskating 8 years ago, after watching Ohno win gold in Salt Lake City. He is coming back from a severe leg injury in which his skate had almost severed his femoral artery.
Ohno’s silver medal from Vancouver is his sixth medal. The 27-year-old is now the most decorated Olympic short track speedskater in history. He has one gold and one silver medal from Salt Lake City, and one gold and 2 bronze from Torino. He is tied with long track speedskater Bonnie Blair for most career medals at the Winter Olympic Games won by an American. Over the next two weeks, Ohno will have 3 more chances to win medals.
Less than an hour later, two more Americans shared the podium in ladies’ moguls. Hannah Kearney of Norwich, VT won Team USA its first gold medal of the Games with a score of 26.63. This is the 23-year-old’s first Olympic medal. She is only the second American to win moguls gold. Four years ago she was a gold-medal favorite, but stumbled on her first run and did not make it past qualifications.
Canada’s Jennifer Heil won the silver with 25.69 points. This is the host nation’s first medal of these Games. Heil has prolonged Canada’s goal of winning gold on home soil. Canada had hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics and 1988 Olympic Winter Games but did not win gold at either.
Tahoe City, CA native Shannon Bahrke earned the bronze medal with a score of 25.43. This is the 29-year-old’s second Olympic medal. In 2002, she won the silver medal. Since February 2004, Bahrke’s career has been plagued with injuries. She has suffered from a broken jaw, torn ACL, partially torn MCL, damaged meniscus, and just two years ago she blew out her knee. Bahrke is known for her pink hair, spunky personality to match, and personal line of coffee beans.
After the first day of competition, five events have awarded medals. The United States leads the medal count with 4 medals, followed by Korea’s 2 medals. Nine other nations have earned one medal each.
2010 Bronze and 2002 Silver Medalist Shannon Bahrke