YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Speedskater Jilleanne Rookard is pleased with 10th-place showing

Olympic veteran, 31, says she is 'feeling pretty good now' after racing in the women's 3,000 meters. She had a trying two years getting to this point.

February 09, 2014|By Jared S. Hopkins and John Cherwa

SOCHI, Russia -- U.S. speedskater Jilleanne Rookard finished 10th in the women's 3,000 meters, an ending that pleased the 31-year-old Michigan native after an emotional journey the last couple of years.

"I'm feeling pretty good now," Rookard said. "Compared to the last couple of years, I can't be upset at all."

Shortly before the 2010 Games, Rookard's mother died. She finished 12th in Vancouver, Canada, but was struggling with her mother's death. She also had depression and her race results declined. About a year ago, she left the national program in Salt Lake City and moved to Norway to train.

FRAMEWORK: View the best images from the Sochi Olympics

"I was seeing my lap times and I just got really motivated actually as the race went on," Rookard said.

On Sunday, Rookard found one other obstacle, a boisterous Russian crowd supporting the country's top skater, Olga Graf, who would go on to win bronze. Rookard joked that of all the countries she could be paired with, she was hoping it wasn't Russia.

Kip Carpenter, her coach, calmed down Rookard and told her to use the fans as a positive influence, which is exactly what she did.

"Instead of getting nervous about it or letting it bother me … I just let it motivate me," she said.

Irene Wust of the Netherlands won gold, beating 2010 champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic.

The other U.S. skater, Anna Ringsred, 29, finished 26th.

The United States has never won the women's 3,000 meters but has won two medals, the last being a bronze in 1980.

Biathlon: Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia became the first woman to successfully defend her biathlon title when she won the 7.5-kilometer sprint. On Saturday, her brother, Anton Shipulin, just missed a medal on the very last shot. She dedicated her gold medal to him.

Olga Vilukhina of Russia picked up the silver and Vita Semerenko of Ukraine won the bronze.

Susan Dunklee was the highest U.S. finisher in 14th. Sara Studebaker (44th) and Annelies Cook (53rd) and Hannah Dreissigacker (65th) also competed for the U.S.

Cross-country: Some questioned whether Dario Cologna of Switzerland would be competitive in the men's 30-kilometer skiathlon given his ankle ligament surgery in November. But he clearly more than recovered to win the gold with a strong finish.

Sweden's Marcus Hellner won the silver and Martin Johnsrud Sundby took home the bronze.

Noah Hoffman was the highest American finisher in 35th place. Erik Bjornsen (42nd), Brian Gregg (47th) and Kris Freeman (54th) also competed for the U.S.

Ski jumping: Poland picked up its first medal of the Games when Kamil Stoch won the gold in the normal hill competition. Stoch had the best jumps in each of the two rounds.

Last year's world champion, Peter Prevc of Slovenia, was second and Anders Bardal of Norway won the bronze.

No American was able to make the 31-person final. Nicholas Alexander finished 34th, Peter Frenette was 45th and Anders Johnson was 47th.

Women's hockey: Russia's women's team brought the home crowd to its feet with a 4-1 victory over Germany. In the other game, Sweden defeated Japan, 1-0. All the teams are in Group B and are not expected to be serious medal contenders. Group A play picks up Monday with the U.S. playing Switzerland and Canada playing Finland.

Los Angeles Times Articles