FIGURE SKATING

Women short program

TURIN, Italy - Sasha Cohen saved the best for last. And boy was it good.

With U.S. flags waving and chants of "USA! USA!" rocking the arena, the U.S. champion dazzled the judges with a sassy, sensational short program and slipped past world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia by a slim .03 points.

Cohen's spectacular spirals and crisp footwork had the crowd clapping to the beat of "Dark Eyes," a Russian folk tune. She even flashed some attitude as she concluded a solid evening of skating that will wrap up with Thursday night's free skate.

She got the marks she felt she deserved - and the United States has yet another women's gold in sight.

Americans have won three of the last four Olympic titles, and if Cohen, a two-time world silver medalist, is this dynamic in the finale, she could add another title.

That would break Russia's stranglehold on figure skating golds at these games. No country has swept all four events, and the Russians already own three - pairs, men's and dance.

Japan's Shizuka Arakawa and Fumie Suguri were third and fourth, and American Kimmie Meissner was fifth.

Emily Hughes, added to the U.S. team nine days ago when Michelle Kwan withdrew with a groin injury, wasn't intimidated in her first major international event. The 17-year-old sister of 2002 gold medalist Sarah Hughes - who was in the audience - was in seventh place.

BOBSLED

Women two-man

CESANA, Italy - Blasting down the Alps in a shiny, dark American convertible, Shauna Rohbock won a silver medal in women's bobsled, ending an 0-for-Olympics stay for the U.S. sliding teams.

With roommate Valerie Fleming providing the push and applying the brakes, Rohbock completed her four runs just .71 seconds behind Germany's Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze and ahead of Italy's Gerde Weissensteiner and Jennifer Isacco.

Rohbock, bumped from an Olympic ride four years ago, finally ended a U.S. winless streak that was chilling the Americans every bit as much as the biting winds.

The U.S. was skunked in the first six events on the 19-curve track, which had proved treacherous for many countries and thorny to the U.S. luge, skeleton and bobsled squads.

But Rohbock and Fleming busted through the ice for the U.S. As they crossed the finish line, the pair pumped their fists and Rohbock pounded both hands on the front of USA-1 in celebration.

Sledding isn't Rohbock's only skill. She's a two-time soccer and track All-American.

HOCKEY

Men

Kazakhstan 5, Latvia 2

Italy 3, Switzerland 3

Finland 2, Germany 0

Canada 3, Czech Republic 2

Slovakia 3, Sweden 0

Russia 5, United States 4

TURIN, Italy - After managing only two goals in two consecutive losses, the U.S. men's hockey team broke out with three power-play tallies, yet still fell to Russia in an Olympic game that mattered only in the confidence department.

The Americans (1-3-1), the fourth-place team in Group B, were already locked into a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday with Group A-winning Finland (5-0). As the No. 2 team in Group B, the Russians (4-1) will face Canada (3-2) in the quarterfinals.

After scoring only nine goals in four games, the U.S. found its offense just as coach Peter Laviolette said his team would. This time, though, the Americans lacked the defense and goaltending they needed.

Brian Rolston, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez all scored man-advantage goals but the U.S. allowed as many goals to Russia as it did in the three previous games of the tournament.

Canada, which had lost back-to-back shutouts, got three first-period goals against the Czech Republic, then held on for the win. The Czechs (2-3), last year's world champions, finished a disappointing fourth in Group A and are to play Group B winner Slovakia (5-0) in the quarterfinals.

The day after Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky promised one goal would lead to another and another following consecutive shutout losses, he was right. Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Pronger scored in a 12-minute span of the first to give the defending gold medalists a big lead.

Finland remained undefeated in Olympic play with a win over Germany (0-3-2) in which they rested first-string goaltender Antero Niittymaki and avoided injury. Niko Kapanen and Saku Koivu scored for Finland, who beat Canada, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy and the Germans by a combined score of 19-2 in preliminary play.

Also, Switzerland's Ivo Ruthemann scored at 16:38 of the third period to pull out a tie with host Italy (0-3-2). The Swiss (2-1-2) finished with six points in Group A and will face Sweden (3-2), whose coach caused a stir when he said his team might be better off losing to Slovakia and matching up with Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

Switzerland earned its quarterfinals berth with surprise wins over the Czechs and Canada, but are still considered weaker than either of those teams.

BIATHLON

Men Relay

CESANA, Italy - Germany won the men's 4x7.5km biathlon relay when star Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen got very little help from his friends.

Bjoerndalen gave the Norwegians a fifth-place finish by skiing a brilliant final leg for the pre-race favorites, but could not make up for his teammates' poor performances.

The Americans took ninth, led by Jay Hakkinen, who dispatched his demons from his epic collapse in the 10km race by giving the United States the lead after the first of four legs.

The Germans - Ricco Gross, Michael Roesch, Sven Fischer and Michael Greis - covered the San Sicario course in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 51.5 seconds for their fourth Olympic gold in the event to go with wins in 1992, '94 and '98.

Russia was 20.9 seconds back, and France edged Sweden for the bronze in a photo finish when Carl Johan Bergman stumbled near the finish line, allowing Raphael Poiree's skis to cross just ahead of his. Poiree's teammates piled on top of him in the snow as he collapsed, exhausted from the thrilling sprint.

Bjoerndalen, whose time of 19 minutes, 15.5 seconds was by far the fastest in the field, had visions of winning five gold medals at the Turin Games after sweeping all four races at Salt Lake City in 2002 - but has managed only two silvers so far with one race remaining.

NORDIC COMBINED

Sprint

PRAGELATO, Italy - Felix Gottwald used a powerful sprint to rally to victory in the Nordic combined sprint Tuesday, giving Austria its record eighth gold medal of the Turin Games - a bright spot for a country caught in the middle of a doping scandal.

Gottwald earned his second gold medal of these Olympics by making up a deficit of nearly a minute from the morning's jumping portion of the event.

Gottwald's winning time of 18 minutes, 29 seconds was 5.4 seconds ahead of silver medalist Magnus Moan of Norway. Germany's Georg Hettich took the bronze after having the best jump earlier in the day.

FREESTYLE SKIING

Women Aerials

SAUZE d'OULX, Italy - Emily Cook's inspiring comeback story ended a day earlier than she'd hoped after another disappointing outing for the American freestyle team on the Olympic aerials course.

Both Cook and Jana Lindsey, the only other American entered, failed to qualify for Wednesday night's finals. That left Jeret "Speedy" Peterson as the only one of six U.S. aerialists, men or women, to advance to the finals.

Cook qualified for the 2002 Olympics, only to break both feet about a month before the games. Doctors said she'd never walk normally again, but she set out to prove them wrong and make another run at the Olympics.

She made it to Turin, but her first Olympic jump was a near disaster. She bent forward on the landing, nearly did the splits, then tumbled forward toward the bottom of the hill. She was ranked 22nd of 23 jumpers after the first round and even with a solid second jump, she only improved to 19th.

Lindsey finished 16th, four spots out of the last qualifying spot.

Aussie Jacqui Cooper set a world record with her qualifying score of 213.36 to cap off a comeback story every bit as amazing as Cook's.

The 33-year-old Aussie had qualified for the 2002 Olympics, but broke her left kneecap and tore cartilage in a practice accident days before the qualifying round. In 1998 at the Nagano Games, Cooper crashed in the qualifying round and didn't make the finals.

She was considered a long shot this time around, but debunked that theory, throwing and landing a triple-twisting jump on her first run - the toughest jump anyone tried all night.

That helped her break the record held by her teammate, Alisa Camplin, who scored a 207.31 at World Championships in 2003.

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