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Late rally keeps U.S. perfect

The U.S. women's hockey team closed preliminary play Tuesday with a plodding and graceless 7-3 win over Finland, a team that represented the Americans' first real test of the tournament.

The United States trailed by two late in the second period before rallying for five third-period goals, two by Angela Ruggiero.

Sarah Parsons also scored two goals for the Americans (3-0), who were anything but perfect: They trailed and flailed for most of the first 41 minutes, raising the possibility of the team's first loss in international play to a non-Canadian team.

Katie King's tying goal and Ruggiero's first goal, on an end-to-end rush with 9:44 remaining spurred the Americans to a finish at the top of Group B and a meeting with Sweden in Friday's semifinals.

Goalie Chanda Gunn made 12 saves, but allowed the first three goals of the Olympics by American opponents.

Finland must regroup to play gold-medal favorite Canada, which beat the Swedes 8-1.

QUICK HITS: The U.S. and Canadian teams beat their six opponents in the preliminary round by a combined 54-4.

UP NEXT FOR THE U.S.: Friday vs. Sweden.


U.S. men win, women lose two

ON THE ICE: The U.S. men's team moved closer to the medal round with a 10-4 win over New Zealand, and the women's team lost both games to remain winless.

In the women's day game, the United States gave up five points in the first end and lost 11-5 to Canada. The United States lost the night match to upstart Japan 6-5 in extra ends.

The Americans, silver medalists at the world championships and a medal contender in Turin, faced a big disadvantage in the 11th end because Japan had the chance to throw last. The problem was exacerbated when U.S. skip Cassie Johnson missed the target completely with her final throw.

With their third consecutive loss, the American women probably need to win at least five of their next six matches to have a chance at the semifinals.

QUICK HITS: The U.S. women's team bought the loyalty of the Italian schoolchildren at the venue with toys and trinkets they threw in the stands. The kids seemed to particularly like a miniature, stuffed curling rock thrown their way. But when the United States fell behind 7-1 after four ends, the Italians began screaming "Canada!"

UP NEXT FOR THE U.S.: Today, men vs. Italy, women vs. Denmark.


Germans sweep 10km sprint

ON THE SNOW: Two-time defending Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjoerndalen faltered, allowing Sven Fischer to give the Germans their second straight gold medal in the men's biathlon.

American Jay Hakkinen fell apart, finishing 80th out of 90 competitors.

Bjoerndalen missed one prone shot and furiously tried to make up time but missed twice standing, relegating him to 12th.

But it was worse for Hakkinen, who missed all five of his prone shots. He threw his poles down in disgust, then accidentally skied six 150-meter penalty loops instead of the required five.

"These games are done," a crestfallen Hakkinen said. "I think this will live with me for the rest of my life."

Germany's Halvard Hanevold won the silver and Frode Andresen took the bronze.

QUICK HITS: Neither Fischer nor Hanevold missed a shot during Tuesday's competition.

UP NEXT: Thursday, women's 7.5km sprint.


Sweden takes double gold

ON THE SNOW: Sweden waited 18 years to win a gold medal in cross country, then got two in 20 minutes.

Lina Andersson's gutsy effort in the final straight helped her and teammate Anna Dahlberg edge Canada's Beckie Scott and Sara Renner on the way to victory in the inaugural women's sprint.

Then, while the women had barely finished hugging each other and were still in top celebration form, the men's team of Bjoern Lind and Thobias Fredriksson completed the sweep.

Lind anchored the team and waited until the final 100 meters to make his move, pushing from third to first to beat Jens Arne Svartedal and Tor Arne Hetland of Norway.

QUICK HITS: American Kikkan Randall was cleared Monday to compete after her hemoglobin suspension and teamed with Wendy Wagner to make the final, where they placed 10th.

UP NEXT: Thursday, women 10km Classical.


Germans dominate again

ON THE TRACK: Sylke Otto won her second straight gold, Silke Kraushaar completed her Olympic collection with a silver and newcomer Tatjana Huefner won bronze in a predictable German sweep.

The 36-year-old Otto, a four-time world champion likely in her final Olympics, won in 3 minutes, 7.979 seconds.

American Courtney Zablocki finished fourth, another near-miss for a U.S. team still seeking its first singles medal. She became the top U.S. woman in an Olympic luge event, finishing one place better than Cammy Myler (1992) and Becky Wilczak (2002).

QUICK HITS: Of the 36 medals awarded since luge debuted at the Innsbruck Games in 1964, the Germans own 27. They have swept the Olympic competition six times in 12 tries, and now twice in a row.

UP NEXT: Today, men's doubles


Russian mom wins 500m

ON THE ICE: Svetlana Zhurova, a 34-year-old Russian who took a break from competition to have a baby, won the gold medal in the 500-meter race. Zhurova was matched with China's Wang Manli in the final pair and beat her to the finish line. Wang earned the silver, and Ren Hui of China took bronze.

The Americans were never in contention. Jennifer Rodriguez finished 11th, Amy Sannes 17th and Elli Ochowicz 23rd. Chris Witty finished 28th of 29 skaters.

QUICK HITS: As a youngster, Zhurova saw three-time Olympic 500 champion Bonnie Blair on television. Her uncle told her she would beat the American some day. Zhurova did so once in three years before Blair retired.

UP NEXT: Today, men's and women's team pursuit.