U.S.-Russia hockey rematch nets big TV ratings

Posted: February 18, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY — The United States' 2-2 tie with Russia was by far the highest-rated hockey game - Olympics or NHL - on U.S. television since the 1980 Lake Placid Games.

NBC's live broadcast starting at 11:30 Saturday night drew a 7.2 national rating, meaning 7.2 percent of homes with TVs tuned in. About 22 million people watched at least part of the game.

That's the biggest network audience in at least 22 years for a game involving NHL players.

The rating is 47 percent higher than the top rating during the 1998 Nagano Games (a 4.9 for the United States vs. Canada), the first time the NHL took a break during the regular season to allow its players to participate in the Olympics.

The New York Islanders' deciding Stanley Cup finals Game 6 overtime win over the Flyers on May 25, 1980, drew a 4.4 rating.

Bobsled. Christoph Langen and Markus Zimmermann of Germany won the gold medal in two-man bobsled in Park City, Utah, coming from behind on the final turns to edge Christian Reich and Steve Anderhub of Switzerland.

Two-time World Cup champion Martin Annen, also of Switzerland, and his brakeman Beat Hefti won the bronze, beating the sled driven by American Todd Hays by only three-hundredths of a second.

Brian Shimer of the United States finished ninth in his fifth and final Olympics.

Women's bobsled. Gea Johnson, the brakeman on the United States' top women's bobsled team, is nursing a hamstring injury that could knock her out of the race and force driver Jean Racine to find another brakeman.

If Johnson can't go, Bethany Hart is the alternate.

Nordic combined. The U.S. Nordic combined team had its first medal in sight, only to let it slip away to finish fourth. It was the closest the team had ever come to a medal in the event.

Finland won its second consecutive Nordic combined gold medal of the Olympics by adding to the big lead it built during Saturday's ski jumping and coasting to the gold in the 20-kilometer cross-country relay at Soldier Hollow.

Germany took the silver medal, 7.5 seconds behind the Finns. Austria got the bronze, 11 seconds back.

The Americans were 1 minute, 11.9 seconds behind the winners.

Men's 40K cross-country relay. Thomas Alsgaard carried Norway to the gold medal in the men's 40-kilometer cross-country relay. He passed Italy's Cristian Zorzi in the home stretch and gave the Norwegians a victory in the event for the third time in the last four Olympics.

The Italians won the silver and Germany got the bronze.

The United States took fifth - its best showing in the event - behind John Bauer, Kris Freeman, Justin Wadsworth and Carl Swenson.

The Norwegians covered the Soldier Hollow course in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 45.5 seconds. Zorzi finished three-tenths of a second behind Alsgaard.

Women's figure skating. Defending world champion Michelle Kwan of Torrance, Calif., will skate tomorrow in the third of five groups in the short program, following four rivals given a chance to defeat her for a gold medal. Up first is Sarah Hughes of Great Neck, N.Y., followed by Sasha Cohen of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Russians Maria Butyrskaya and Irina Slutskaya skate in Kwan's group, but just ahead of her. Judges usually score lower for the first skaters to leave room for later performances.

Coaches gone. Alpine Canada won't renew the contracts of its four men's speed-skiing coaches after two seasons of poor results and a winless Olympic campaign.

Burkhard Schaffer, the men's combined coach this season, will replace Peter Bosinger as head speed coach. Other coaches not returning are Mike Syrovatka, Paul Lavoie and Bosinger's brother, Rob.

The women's programs will not be affected.

Hockey. Tommy Salo outdueled Dominik Hasek in a matchup of gold-medal goalies and Sweden beat the defending champion Czech Republic, 2-1, for its second consecutive impressive victory.

Mats Sundin scored his third goal in two games and the Flyers' Kim Johnsson netted a power-play goal for Sweden.

Mario Lemieux sat out Canada's 3-2 win over Germany last night to rest his sore hip. Canada expected him to be back in the lineup for tonight's game against the Czech Republic.

The Canadians did all their scoring in the second period. Joe Sakic netted the first goal with an assist from Flyers forward Simon Gagne. Paul Kariya and Adam Foote made it 3-0 before Germany rallied in the final period.

Curling. Three of the four men's semifinalists are set: Canada, Norway and Sweden. Canada improved to 7-1 with a 9-4 victory over Norway (6-2), while Sweden (6-2) beat Germany, 5-4. The Americans fell out of contention with a 6-4 loss to Finland, which stayed alive by ending its round-robin schedule at 5-4.

The U.S. women stayed in contention for a medal by beating Britain, 6-5, in extra ends to improve to 5-3, the same as Britain, with one game remaining.

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