United States players celebrate a goal scored against Switzerland during an 8-1 preliminary round win on Sunday in Beijing. Petr David Josek/Associated Press

BEIJING — Having avoided questions about their heated cross-border rivalry all week because the focus has been on the next opponent, United States women’s hockey coach Joel Johnson and his players could finally address what’s been on everyone’s minds since the Beijing Winter Games opened.

Bring on Canada.

The defending Olympic champions worked out their remaining kinks with a dominating 8-0 win over Switzerland on Sunday to prepare for their Group A finale against Canada on Tuesday.

“I think both teams think there’s no doubt that we can win, and both teams respect their opponent, but they have all the confidence in the world,” Johnson said. “I know that’s how we’re approaching it. I know that’s how Canada is approaching it. And that’s why it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Hilary Knight scored two first-period goals, Alex Cavallini stopped 12 shots, and the Americans (3-0) produced their most complete performance so far.

Kelly Pannek and Jesse Compher also scored twice on a night 13 of 19 U.S. skaters earned at least a point.


“I was really happy with how we played. Just felt like we finally put together a full three periods,” defender Lee Stecklein said. “Looking forward to hopefully a practice day tomorrow and then excited for Canada as always.”

The goal eruption came against a Swiss team which had been outscored by a combined 17-3 in losing its first two games, including a 12-1 loss to Canada on Thursday. It also provided the Americans some momentum a day after they had 62 shots but struggled finishing in a 5-0 win over the Russian team.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Russian skier Alexander Bolshunov pulled away from the pack early to win gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon.

Bolshunov, the World Cup points leader in distance races, crossed the finish line in one hour, 16 seconds. Bolshunov and Iivo Niskanen of Finland led the race through the first four classic ski laps but Russia’s Denis Spitsov passed Niskanen once they were on the freestyle legs.

Spitsov stayed out front and secured the silver, one minute, 11 seconds behind Bolshunov. Niskanen held on for the bronze two minutes back.

FREESTYLE SKIING: Jakara Anthony of Australia has captured the women’s moguls title at the Beijing Olympics.


Anthony’s back flip with a grab at the bottom of the course sewed up the gold medal Sunday on the Secret Garden Olympic course. Her score of 83.09 edged American Jaelin Kauf, who had been poised to pick up the first gold medal for Team USA in China.

Russian athlete Anastasiia Smirnova earned the bronze while defending champion Perrine Laffont of France finished fourth.

The 23-year-old Anthony joins Dale Begg-Smith as the only Aussies to win the Olympic event. Begg-Smith earned his title at the 2006 Turin Games.

LUGE: Johannes Ludwig of Germany is the Olympic champion in men’s luge, adding that to the World Cup overall title he won this season.

It’s the 11th time in 16 Olympics that a German man – counting the days of East Germany and West Germany in there – has won the luge title. Wolfgang Kindl of Austria was second and Dominik Fischnaller of Italy was third.

Ludwig led after all four heats. He set the tone for Sunday’s final two runs of the competition by setting a track record leading off the third heat, putting more pressure on everyone else in the field to catch him.


Nobody did.

SKI JUMPING: Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi won Olympic ski jumping gold on the normal hill.

Kobayashi jumped last and best, clearing 99.5 meters (326 feet) and had 129.6 points thanks to his graceful style from start to finish that won over the judges.

Austria’s Manuel Fettner won silver and Dawid Kubacki of Poland earned bronze.

SNOWBOARD: Zoi Sadowski Synnott won New Zealand’s first gold medal in Winter Olympics history, stomping down a pressure-packed run on her last trip down the mountain to win the title in women’s slopestyle.

Sadowski Synnott went into her last of three runs trailing American Julia Marino but came up big.


She raised her hands in the air after landing, knowing what she’d done. Marino, who won silver, and bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia knew it, too. They gang-tackled her at the finish line to celebrate.

SPEEDSKATING: Nils van der Poel gave Sweden its first Olympic speedskating medal since 1988, pulling off a stunning comeback to win gold in the men’s 5,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics.

Van der Poel was a big favorite coming into the event as the reigning world champion with an undefeated record in the distance events on this season’s World Cup circuit.

He lived up to the hype in the 12 1/2-lap race at the Ice Ribbon oval, turning on the speed at the end to overcome Patrick Roest of the Netherlands with an Olympic record of 6 minutes, 8.84 seconds.

Roest won silver and the bronze went to Norway’s Hallgeir Engebraaten.

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