- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2010

With the Vancouver Olympics heading into its final weekend, the United States will be looking to accomplishing something that hasn’t been done by the Americans at a Winter Olympics since 1932 — to be atop the medal count for the entire competition.

Entering Friday’s competition with 32 total medals, the Americans are just two medals shy of the record 34 they won at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. With three days of competition left, they also have some excellent opportunities to equal or surpass that total, with Apollo Ohno racing perhaps the final two events of his career Friday and the men’s hockey team needing one win in two games for at least a bronze.

While Canada entered the Olympics saying it wanted to “Own the Podium,” and boasted about its desire to win the most medals at its own event, Germany was widely viewed as the team with the best chance to do so. Germany led the medal count in Turin, Salt Lake and Nagano.

Russia, the traditional Winter Olympics powerhouse, has truly had an Olympics to forget and is currently fifth in the total with just 13 medals, behind the U.S., Germany, Norway and Canada.

With the U.S. success, even the athletes are getting caught up in the race to hold off the Germans and take the honor.

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“I have looked [at the medal count], but I didn’t expect I could give a medal to this thing,” Viktoria Rebensburg, who won gold in the women’s giant slalom, told USA Today. “I never thought that would happen, so it’s cool. And maybe we will win this.”

While officially the USOC isn’t acknowledging the country vs. country competition, it is, of course, pleased with the success through two weeks of competition.

“I think the important thing is that we have enabled our athletes to perform to the best of their ability, and that’s really all we could ask for,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun told the paper. “We’re thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

The other race that will be worth watching is the race for which country wins the most golds in Vancouver. Unlike the total medals race, which Canada has conceded, the hosts still are still very much in the running to win the most gold medals.

That might just come down to the last competition of the Olympics, Sunday’s gold-medal hockey game — should the Canadians or Americans advance.

Not only could that game potentially decide which country has superiority in the sport, but also could put Canada or U.S. on top of the gold total for the entire Olympics.

As of Friday morning, Germany, the U.S. and Canada had eight gold medals apiece, with Norway one medal behind those three with seven.

“On the medal counts, you have always to be very careful, because there are two medal counts,” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told the paper. “There’s the one according to the gold medals — that would be utilized by the countries who have them. And there’s the one by the total number of medals. Both are really valuable.”