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Americans Set Record at Winter Olympics


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I'm Doug Johnson. Today on our program, we play music from the new young pop star, Justin Bieber.

But first we tell about winning American athletes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Winning Olympic Athletes

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, will end Sunday. The United States has won a record number of medals at the international games. Bob Doughty and Faith Lapidus tell about some of the winning American athletes on and off the ice and snow.

On the twelfth day of the Olympics the United States broke its medal record for competition outside America. The men’s four-member Nordic team finished second in the Nordic combined race for a silver medal.

This made a total of twenty-six medals for American athletes. The United States had won twenty-five medals at the last Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. The only time the United States had won more was on its own territory, in two thousand at the Salt Lake City, Utah Winter Games.

Nordic combined is ski jumping followed by a cross country ski race. Three men on the American team, Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane had been to the Olympics before. But the pressure was on Brett Camerota, who was new to the Olympics. Experts say it was his excellent jump that put the team in medal position.

Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn also experienced a sweet victory when she won the gold medal in the women’s downhill ski race. She became the first American woman ever to win the event. And she won even though her right leg was injured.

Vonn’s teammate, Julia Mancuso, crossed the finish line less than a second later for the silver medal. She also won the silver in the super combined, which is downhill and slalom racing.

Mancuso had won a gold medal at the two thousand six Winter Games in the giant slalom. But since then, the twenty-five year old had experienced severe hip and back problems. Treatments over the last few years included an operation and physical therapy.

Now she is the first American Alpine woman skier to have three Olympic medals. She is also the first we know about to wear a jeweled headband called a tiara while competing. Her coach gave her the first tiara years ago for good luck. The native Californian also runs her own clothing company.

Mancuso, Bode Miller and Apolo Ohno have all broken records at these games. Speed skater Ohno won two medals in Vancouver -- a silver and a bronze. With his two golds, two silvers and a bronze from earlier games, Ohno became the most decorated American winter Olympian.

The twenty-seven year old skater was already famous. He has major marketing deals with big companies. In two thousand seven he won the popular television competition show “Dancing with the Stars.”

The Vancouver Winter Olympics have been very good for Bode Miller. He has renewed his image in the sport of Alpine skiing.

Miller had been criticized for his behavior at the games in Turin. He was accused of working harder at drinking and partying than competing. He told reporters that he skied under the influence of alcohol. He won no medals in Turin and withdrew from the United States ski team after the games.

Last year, he returned to the team. Now thirty-two years old, he seems a much different competitor. He won the gold medal in the men’s super combined, a silver in the Super G, and a bronze in the downhill. He has now won the most Olympic medals of any American Alpine skier.

Americans have led the medal count in snowboarding events in Vancouver. As expected, Shaun White took the gold in the halfpipe event. The twenty-three year old invented many of the tricks and flips used by his competitors. Of course, it might be easier for him to invent tricks. The company that makes Red Bull energy drink built him his own halfpipe on Silverton Mountain in Colorado.

Hannah Teter won her second Olympic medal in the halfpipe event at these games. She won her first, a gold, in Turin. Teter is twenty-three and comes from Belmont, Vermont. Vermont-based ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s named an ice cream flavor after her. Some of the profits go to an aid group Teter established two years ago. Hannah’s Gold helps bring clean water and meet other needs in Kirindon, Kenya. She started raising money for the town through sales of Vermont maple syrup.

American figure skaters have won both silver and gold this year. Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White won a silver medal for ice dancing. The two were born in Michigan in nineteen eighty-seven. They have been skating partners since they were ten. This was their first Olympic competition.

And Evan Lysacek won the gold medal in men’s figure skating. Lysacek became the first American man to win gold in figure skating since nineteen eighty-eight. Russia has led the sport for many years.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber is only fifteen years old. He has become extremely popular. Barbara Klein tells us about this young singer.

Justin Bieber was raised by his mother in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. When he was twelve he won second place in a local singing contest. He started posting videos of his contest performances on YouTube for his friends and family. Soon these videos had been seen more than ten million times.

A former music executive saw those videos. He arranged for Justin to fly to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet the singer and songwriter Usher. A year later Justin signed a recording contract. His first album is called "My World." It sold over a million copies in its first two months. Four singles were released before the album.

All became hits. This made Justin Bieber the only artist in the history of Billboard magazine to have four singles from his first album among the most popular songs before the album’s release. This is one of those songs, "One Time." It is about a young person’s first love.

Usher helped produce Justin’s first album. He joins him in singing "First Dance." Justin Bieber says it is "a slow groovy song that people can dance to."

Justin Bieber performed for President Obama at the White House in December. He was part of a televised musical show that raised money for the National Children’s Medical Center. He was also among the many singers who recorded a special new version of the song "We Are the World."

The song was produced to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti. The video has been seen more than seven million times on YouTube. And it was shown during the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver on February twelfth.

(MUSIC: “WE ARE THE WORLD”)

Justin Bieber’s family did not have much money when he was growing up. He did not have as much as other children did.

Justin says he wants to influence young people in a positive way. He says his message is that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. We leave you with Justin Bieber singing "Bigger." The song urges young people to work toward their goals.

I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


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