February 25, 2010 / 7:45 PM / in 8 years

Germany seize medal lead, Canada eye more gold

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A little known skier emerged from a foggy giant slalom course to snatch gold for Germany on Thursday and put her country on top of the Olympic medal table, one notch above the United States and hosts Canada.

<p>Gold medallist Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg holds a national flag as she celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the women's alpine skiing giant slalom event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger</p>

After weather forced the postponement of the second run on Wednesday, Viktoria Rebensburg weaved her way to the front from a sixth place position after the first leg in another upset for the once all-conquering Austrian ski team at these Winter Games.

Germany now has eight gold medals to seven each for the United States and Canada as day 13 of competition got under way.

That ranking could change during the day, though, as the women of the United States and Canada face off in the ice hockey final, a possible harbinger of what is to come in men’s hockey.

Canada also has medal hopes in the women’s figure skating final, where six-times Canadian champion Joannie Rochette is third after a short program skated with remarkable courage in the wake of her mother’s death earlier in the week.

The Canadian faces stiff competition, however, from two 19-year-olds -- South Korea’s Kim Yuna and Japan’s Mao Asada.

Canadians savored the spoils of Wednesday -- now coined ‘Canada’s day’ after a redeeming hockey win over Russia in the quarter-finals and a medal haul of one gold, two silvers and a bronze.

“Canada: We Owned the Day,” shouted the Vancouver Sun, highlighting that women brought in all the medals on Wednesday, although the men’s hockey continues to grab the attention.

‘SOUNDS SO STRANGE’

In a country where hockey is so important they put it on their five-dollar bill, Canadians anxiously await their men’s semi-final on Friday against Slovakia, slayers of the 2006 gold medalist Sweden.

The American men will square off against Finland in the other semi-final.

The gold that most matters to Canada could come down to a rematch with the neighbors to the south, who beat the Canadians on home ice in the preliminary round and forced them to play another match to make the quarter-finals.

While Canada surged in the medal race, the Americans came to a standstill after their strong out-of-the-gate gold run.

Disappointment came in women’s Alpine skiing, where golden girl and downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn crashed out of the giant slalom on Wednesday and broke her little finger.

Her team mate Julia Mancuso, the 2006 gold medalist in giant slalom, skied hard from her disastrous 18th place start, but only managed eighth.

Austrian Elisabeth Goergl was first after the first leg, but could not match her performance on the second run and ended up with her second bronze of these Games.

Rebensburg, who has yet to win on the World Cup circuit, said it “sounds so strange” to be and Olympic champion.

“I think it’s going to take a few days for me to realize it,” she said.

Editing by Miles Evans.

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