U.S. seeks hockey semifinal berth; skeleton returns

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If short-track speed skating is not dangerous enough for you, try skeleton, which returns to the Winter Olympics on Wednesday for the first time in 54 years.

It’s been even longer than that since the United States lost an Olympic hockey game on American soil, a streak that will be in jeopardy as the quarterfinals are held at the E Center.

There will be seven medals awarded on day 13 of the Salt Lake City Games. American speed skating-prodigy Apolo Anton Ohno tries to shake off the effects of a nasty spill when he goes for gold in the 1,500-meter shor- track event.

Skeleton, an even more dangerous head-first version of the luge, returns with the debut of the women’s competition, where Alex Coomber is favored to win Britain’s first Winter Games gold medal since the ice dancing team of Torvill and Dean in 1984.

Other medal events include the women’s slalom, men’s 4×7.5-kilometer biathlon relay, women’s 1,500-meter speed skating and women’s 3,000-meter short-track relay.

But the marquee event takes place in West Valley City, where the United States tries to reach the men’s hockey semifinals for the first time since winning a fabled gold medal in Lake Placid 22 years ago.

Awaiting coach Herb Brooks’ team is Germany, which lost all three games in the final round but has been looking forward to the matchup with the U.S.

While Germany is coming off a 7-1 loss to Sweden, it showed it can play with hockey’s big boys during a 3-2 defeat to Canada.

Canada faces surprising Finland in another quarterfinal. The triumph over Germany was Canada’s only win in the final round and the team has come under severe criticism back home.

Russia takes on the Czechs in a rematch of the 1998 gold medal game. Neither team played its best hockey in the final round, going 1-1-1.

The other quarterfinal pits Sweden, the only unbeaten and untied team in the field, and Belarus, which has lost four straight and surrendered 22 goals in three final-round games.

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