Invoking the 1980 hockey game -- another matchup with Russia as serious underdogs -- had a similar, happy result.
LONDON - With their bronze medal fencing match down to its final minute, Susie Scanlan and her teammates sized up the situation. They were tied 30-30 with Russia, a team they had beaten only once. The crowd at the ExCel London arena was trading chants, as every call of "USA!'' was met with a reply of "Rossiya!"
One touch would win the U.S. its first-ever Olympic medal in women's team epee. Earlier Saturday afternoon, Scanlan, Maya Lawrence and Courtney and Kelley Hurley had invoked that most Minnesotan of Olympic slogans: Do you believe in miracles?
They got one courtesy of Courtney Hurley's quick blade. In the extra time added to break the tie, she flicked it across the torso of Anna Sivkova to earn the bronze and set off a wild celebration. The 31-30 victory gave the U.S. its first fencing medal of these Olympics, in only the second time it has competed in women's team epee.
Scanlan, of St. Paul, played a key role as the U.S. beat Italy in the quarterfinals and lost to Korea in the semifinals. She then sat out the bronze medal match to allow Kelley Hurley, the team's substitute athlete, to fence. That gave the U.S. a better matchup against the Russians and ensured Hurley would get a medal if the U.S. made the podium.
The U.S. was ahead 27-25 when Courtney Hurley faced Sivkova in the final bout. Sivkova took a 4-2 lead to tie it at 29, then touched Hurley's foot with 25 seconds remaining to put Russia ahead. Hurley scored with 18 seconds left to send the bout to extra time.
On the floor next to the fencing strip, Scanlan, Lawrence and Kelley Hurley put their hands over their faces. Coach Roberto Sobalvarro, of the Twin Cities Fencing Club, hollered at Hurley to attack. When she did, she gave the U.S. women's epee program its Miracle moment.
"I had to keep telling myself to breathe," said Scanlan, 22, who took two years off from Princeton University to train for the London Games. "We knew if we went in with a fighting attitude, we would be able to compete.
"We were down four touches in the third match, and mentally, we were like, 'We're going to lose to Russia again.' But we fought through it."
The U.S. entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed. It dispatched Italy 45-35, a surprisingly wide margin. But the Koreans fenced extremely well in London and knocked the U.S. out of the running for gold with a 45-36 victory.
Courtney Hurley said the group thought of the Miracle on Ice analogy as soon as they knew they would face Russia. Like that 1980 U.S. hockey team, they were serious underdogs against Russia. Sobalvarro thought that using Kelley Hurley would surprise the Russians, who expected Scanlan in the lineup. Hurley also was fresh after not fencing in the earlier rounds. She lost her first bout as Russia took a 15-11 lead, but in her second, she made up for it.
Her 4-1 victory, combined with her sister Courtney's 4-2 win, put the U.S. ahead 19-18 on the way toward the dramatic finish. Courtney Hurley sensed the Russians were nervous and hesitant, and Sobalvarro said the team often practices the situation she faced: one minute of time, one touch wins. "I've been in that situation so many times," Hurley said. "I lunged into her, and I thought I missed and she didn't. We both did. And that's when I got her.''
All four fencers said the team medal was particularly meaningful to them. They have competed together for several years, and Sobalvarro -- their coach since they were teens -- had long thought they were capable of winning an Olympic medal.
In 2008, just seeing Olympic fencing on TV brought so many kids to his club in St. Paul that he had to turn away new students for lack of space. Before he deals with that happy problem, he plans to savor his miracle.
"We've been together a long time,'' he said. "This is huge for us. And for the [U.S.] program, it's enormous.''
|Tennessee||12/18/14 7:25 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/20/14 3:30 PM|
|San Diego||12/20/14 7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||35||2nd Qtr 8:30|
|Utah||33||2nd Qtr 9:42|
|Orlando||36||2nd Qtr 8:25|
|Brooklyn||3||1st Qtr 10:53|
|Ottawa||1||2nd Prd 13:58|
|Boston||0||1st Prd 18:16|
|James Madison||30||2nd Half 20:00|
|SIU Edwardsville||32||2nd Half 16:53|
|St Francis-PA||45||2nd Half 12:41|
|North Florida||29||2nd Half|
|Catawba||43||2nd Half 15:54|
|Ferrum||23||2nd Half 16:33|
|Hampton||31||2nd Half 16:43|
|Gardner-Webb||47||2nd Half 16:22|
|Arkansas State||46||2nd Half 13:20|
|Tennessee||36||2nd Half 14:17|
|NC A&T||34||2nd Half 14:57|
|Manhattan||25||2nd Half 14:55|
|Robert Morris||31||2nd Half 16:30|
|Char Southern||30||2nd Half 15:35|
|Kennesaw St||46||1st Half 0:33|
|Barber-Scotia||24||2nd Half 17:03|
|Detroit||27||1st Half 0:08|
|Liberty||20||1st Half 3:59|
|TX A&M-CC||2||1st Half 17:41|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||4||1st Half 15:30|
|UT Martin||3||1st Half 15:18|
|Milligan||12||1st Half 15:20|
|Abilene Christian||5||1st Half 16:00|
|USC Upstate||13||1st Half 14:36|
|Alcorn State||7||1st Half 16:18|
|Central Mich||4||1st Half 16:00|
|Georgia State||9||1st Half 15:03|
|TX-Pan American||6||1st Half 15:15|
|Ill-Chicago||3||1st Half 16:30|
|Texas State||6||1st Half 13:55|
|Stephen F Austin||11|
|SC State||4||1st Half 16:29|
|Missouri State||7||1st Half 13:32|
|Chicago State||8||1st Half 16:55|
|Morehead State||0||1st Half 17:39|
|Northern Colorado||6||1st Half 15:53|
|New Mexico St||8:00 PM|
|San Diego St||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||8:00 PM|
|Incarnate Word||8:00 PM|
|Central Arkansas||9:00 PM|
|Grambling St||10:00 PM|
|Nevada||12/20/14 10:00 AM|
|Utah State||12/20/14 1:20 PM|
|(23) Utah||12/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Western Mich||12/20/14 4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||12/20/14 8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State||66||FINAL|
|Florida A&M||56||2nd Half 1:58|
|Oklahoma||53||2nd Half 7:39|
|Savannah State||46||2nd Half 4:15|
|Northern Colorado||12||2nd Half 20:00|
|Youngstown St||24||2nd Half 15:54|
|Siena||52||2nd Half 8:59|
|Vermont||47||2nd Half 10:13|
|(1) South Carolina||50||2nd Half 10:50|
|Fla Gulf Coast||56||2nd Half 14:33|
|Texas Southern||53||2nd Half 16:49|
|Northwestern||57||2nd Half 15:08|
|NC A&T||47||2nd Half 16:33|
|NC Central||32||2nd Half 14:27|
|Drexel||33||2nd Half 13:00|
|Cincinnati||34||2nd Half 15:11|
|Alabama State||25||2nd Half 20:00|
|Morehead St||38||2nd Half|
|Arkansas State||30||2nd Half|
|American Univ||37||2nd Half 13:54|
|UNC Greensboro||49||2nd Half 12:07|
|Arkansas-Monticello||25||1st Half 0:21|
|Prairie View||25||1st Half 4:17|
|Sam Houston St||16|
|McNeese State||6||1st Half 14:46|
|Yale||16||1st Half 14:04|
|Oakland||4||1st Half 16:58|
|Eastern Kentucky||6||1st Half 17:09|
|SIU-Edwardsville||8||1st Half 14:52|
|McMurry||0||1st Half 16:00|
|North Texas||9:00 PM|