Germany slides through semifinals to defend Olympic title


Germany defended their women’s team pursuit Olympic title on Saturday after making up almost one second in the final lap to overtake the Japanese team at the line by just two hundedths of a second.

The Germans struggled on the over-used ice in the first few laps, and fell behind by almost two seconds early on.

They chipped away at the lead by increasing their pace in the last few laps.

Japan made it to the finals by beating Poland, a surprise semi-finalist, in a surprisingly close race.

A sliding Anni Friesinger was what put Germany through to the finals.  They were in a tight race with the American team when Friesinger started to fall off the back of the pack with fatigued legs. Her team of Stephanie Beckert and Daniela Anschuetz waited for her and crossed the line just a few seconds before Friesinger’s legs gave out and she slid across the finish line.

Upon finding out that she crossed before the last American skater, the German team, especially Friesinger, celebrated.

Friesinger was replaced by Katrin Mattscherodt for the finals.

The United States lost the bronze medal race to Poland when they split up at the end, and despite their first two skaters crossing first, the entire Polish team crossed before the third American skater did. Poland received their sixth medal of these Games.

It was the U.S. who upset the Canadian women’s team when they beat them in the opening round on Friday.  Kristina Groves said the loss was one of the biggest disappointments of her life.  She was hoping to complete the 2010 Olympic medal collection with gold after winning silver and bronze already.

The Canadian women were the favourites coming into the event.

But Groves, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler were not able to overcome that setback to beat the Netherlands and finish fifth.

Russia beat Korea in the women’s D final to place seventh.