Canada tops U.S. in team pursuit Germany wins women's race


RICHMOND, B.C. - The Canadian men finally won gold at the speedskating oval, leaving Chad Hedrick with a silver in the final race of his career yesterday.

The Germans repeated as champions of the women's team pursuit - first with a belly flop across the line, then by less than the length of a skate blade.

Hedrick had hoped to head into retirement with a gold, but the 32-year-old Texan trailed a pair of 19-year-old teammates, finishing 21-hundredths of a second behind the last of the Canadians to cross.

Still, Hedrick leaves behind quite a career: five medals in five different events, joining Eric Heiden as the only American men to win five long-track medals.

Heiden, now a doctor for the U.S. team, led the cheers for Hedrick, Jonathan Kuck, and Brian Hansen from behind the pads heading into the first turn as they saluted the crowd.

Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky, and Mathieu Giroux ensured that "O Canada" played at least once for the men during the 15-day competition, winning with a time of 3 minutes, 41.37 seconds.

No one cut it closer than the German women.

Matched against the Americans in the semifinals, they appeared to have lost when Anni Friesinger-Postma stumbled a couple of times on the final lap and fell coming down the last straightaway. Sliding along on her belly, she waved her arms furiously, like a swimmer, then stuck out her skate to trigger the timer.

She buried her head against the ice, believing she had cost her team a spot in the final, then reacted giddily when she realized the Germans had won by 0.23.

Poland claimed the bronze, overcoming the United States when Catherine Raney-Norman couldn't keep up with teammates Jennifer Rodriguez and Jilleanne Rookard.