Young Ted Ligety gave the United States the Olympic gold medal that Bode Miller couldn't deliver Tuesday night, uncorking the two fastest slalom runs of the day to win the men's combined and break the Americans' bad luck in Alpine skiing.
The 21-year-old skier from Park City, Utah, in his first Olympics, had a combined time of 3 minutes, 9.35 seconds for the downhill and two slalom runs. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won the silver medal, 53-hundredths of a second behind the American at 3:09.88. Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria captured the bronze at 3:10.67.
Austrian favorite Benjamin Raich, the leader going into the final slalom run, skied off course, setting off a red-white-and-blue celebration at the finish area.
"It's incredible," Ligety said. "I can't believe it (happened) in combined because I'm not very good in downhill."
As CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports, nobody looked more stunned than Ligety himself - as he scooped the gold in a come-from-behind victory.
He said it would have been even better if Raich had finished.
"I would prefer to win standing up to him," Ligety said.
U.S. skiers Steven Nyman and Scott Macartney tackled Ligety, and the three teammates rolled in the snow together. They rose, and Ligety waved an American flag while he was propped on the others' shoulders.
"I'm not surprised he's on the podium," U.S. men's coach Phil McNichol said. "I'm a bit surprised he won gold."
Despite the drama in the Alps, the arrival of embattled Canadian ice hockey general manager Wayne Gretzky threatened to overshadow the sports.
Gretzky is embroiled along with his actress wife Janet Jones in a betting scandal in the United States. Although he denies any links with the gambling, Gretzky is expected to be hounded by reporters throughout his time in Turin, where he aims to guide the Canadians to a repeat of their Salt Lake City gold. Check the schedule of upcoming events.
In related developments:Figure skater Emily Hughes is due into Turin on Thursday. The newest Olympian's departure from the New York area was delayed by a snowstorm. She'll skate in Turin for the first time on Friday and hold a news conference that day. Hughes is the younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes. She's heading to Turin to fill in for injured nine-time national champion Michelle Kwan.Chris Soule wanted his second shot at the Olympics to arrive under better circumstances. He's a last-minute replacement on the U.S. skeleton team for Zach Lund, who was suspended one year for failing a drug test. He joins a group that has been through weeks of turmoil leading up to the Winter Games. Will a few precious days be enough to prepare for a medal shot? "It has to be. There's nothing else I can do," said Soule, who was seventh at the Salt Lake City Games four years ago. Speedskater Joey Cheek credits his gold medal in the men's 500 meters to his relaxation skills — and Jessica Simpson? Cheek said he watched the movie "The Dukes of Hazzard" — which featured Simpson as Daisy Duke — before he raced Monday, then "skated out of my head. I've never skated races that well before. For it to come together like this in the Olympics is a real honor," he said.The American women are shut out of the medals in the 500-meter speedskating race today. Jennifer Rodriquez finished eleventh and Amy Sannes 17th. Wisconsin speedskater Elli Ochowicz of Waukesha finished 23rd and Chris Witty of West Allis came in 28th. Finland's leading the U.S. women's hockey team. The Americans were down 3-to-1 midway through the second period. Canada gave up a goal, finally, beating Sweden 8-to-1. Russia topped Italy 5-to-1, and Germany edged Switzerland 2-to-1. Track the current medal count here.After three days of competition at the Turin Games, organizers are edging closer to their goal for ticket sales. Giuseppe Gattino, head of the TOROC organizing committee said Tuesday that 13,000 tickets were sold Monday, bringing the games' total to 789,000. With 1.03 million tickets available, organizers have set a sales goal of 830,000.Smog levels in the Winter Olympics host city are in almost daily breach of European Union limits, but authorities said Tuesday that taking measures against air pollution would disrupt the running of the games. Monitoring stations across the city are constantly detecting pollutant levels that are dangerous to human health, said Enrico Garrou, director of the Regional Environment Protection Agency in Turin.American medal hopeful Lindsey Kildow left the hospital Tuesday, just 24 hours after a harrowing training crash that slammed her into the frozen course at 50 mph, and U.S. team officials said she will try to ski Wednesday's downhill. Kildow was on the official start list submitted for the downhill, although U.S. women's coach Patrick Riml said a final decision would depend on her condition just before the race.As the U.S. is stocking up on medals, CBS' Manuel Gallegus reports that in just 24 hours freestyle skier Jeremy Bloom could be holding one. It seems that Bloom is good at everything he does, from powdering down the slopes to playing football to modeling. He may even get drafted by the NFL after competing in Turin. "To me its just looking inside myself and pushing myself to the extreme and pushing the limits that s inside of me — just trying to get the fuel and fire to train harder," Bloom told Gallegus.Hannah Teter won gold (video) and Gretchen Bleiler won silver in the women's halfpipe — one day after fellow Americans Shaun White and Danny Kass finishing 1-2 in the men's competition.Wendy Wagner and Kikkan Randall are in the finals of the women's cross-country team sprint. It's the first time the Americans have advanced past a semifinal in the event. Randall was back in competition following a five-day suspension for high levels of hemoglobin. She and Wagner placed tenth among the ten teams that qualified for the final, but it was a milestone nonetheless. Wagner plans to retire after the Olympics. A Brazilian bobsledder is on his way home. He's the first drug case at the Olympics. The sledder tested positive for steroids in a pre-Olympic drug test. A statement on the Brazilian Olympic Committee's Web site says he showed evidence of the steroid nandrolone. Brazilian officials say they have a zero tolerance policy.
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