— The Associated Press

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Torah Bright brought a timely flash of excellence to an otherwise messy night on the halfpipe. She walked away with — what else? — a shiny, Olympic gold medal.

Under pressure after falling on her first run Thursday night, the Aussie strung five technically superior jumps together on her second attempt and landed them all for the perfect capper to a four-year ride full of injuries, experiments and, ultimately, victory.

”I was like, ‘Oh well, can’t change that,”’ Bright said of her first run. ”I got up to the top, and I tell myself the same things going into any run, any event. It’s just to have fun.”

She scored 45 points to defeat defending champion Hannah Teter by 2.6. The 2002 champion, Kelly Clark, fell on her first run, hit the deck on an awkward landing on her second but still took bronze.

Bright, the 23-year-old originally from Cooma, Australia, won without trying the ”double cork” — the double-flipping jump she’d been practicing all year, one that’s increasingly popular on the men’s side but hasn’t yet been tried by a woman in competition.

But she wasn’t looking to make history — only to win gold, and she was more than good enough to do that on a night when all the top contenders fell.


MEN’S HOCKEY: Sidney Crosby scored the only goal of a shootout in which an entire nation of nervous Canadians hung on every shot, giving Canada a 3-2 win over Switzerland in Vancouver, British Columbia, and avoiding a second inconceivable loss to the Swiss in as many Olympics

Canada, a huge favorite despite a 2-0 upset loss to Switzerland in 2006, took a 2-0 lead early in the second and looked to be cruising. But the Swiss came back to tie it on second-period goals by Ivo Ruthemann and Patrick von Gunten.

After a scoreless third period and five-minute overtime, the first three shooters for each team in the shootout failed. Crosby put a wrist shot past Jonas Hiller with his second attempt, and the game ended when Canada goalie Martin Brodeur stopped Martin Pluss.


SPEEDSKATING: Christine Nesbitt electrified the home crowd in Richmond, British Columbia, turning on the speed over the final lap to claim Canada’s first gold medal at the speedskating oval.

Nesbitt won in 1 minute, 16.56 seconds. Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands won silver in 1:16.58. The bronze also went to the Dutch, claimed by Laurine van Riessen in 1:16.72.


WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Jessie Vetter made 23 saves, captain Natalie Darwitz had a goal and two assists, and the U.S. completed its undefeated run through the preliminary round with a 6-0 win over Finland.

With a four-goal first period, the Americans advanced to Monday’s semifinal against Sweden, which beat the U.S. in the semis in the 2006 Olympics.


MEN’S CURLING: Americans remained 0-for-Vancouver following a 7-6 loss to Denmark. At 0-4, they are on the brink of elimination.


WOMEN’S CURLING: The U.S. women’s curlers are still winless, falling 7-6 to Denmark for their third straight defeat.

The Americans had control of the game until a costly seventh end when Denmark scored a three-spot. U.S. skip Debbie McCormick’s final draw was well short, and all three of her teammates frantically swept to no avail.


BIATHLON: Emil Hegle Svendsen won the 20K individual men’s event and Tora Berger dominated from start to finish in the women’s 15K individual race.

Lanny Barnes was 23rd in the women’s event, the best by an American since 1994.

In the men’s race, American Jeremy Teela was a late scratch after waking up with sinus problems. He was the top American in the 10K, finishing ninth.