Posted: Feb 27, 3:58p ET | Updated: Feb 28, 12:52a ET

Germany slides into pursuit gold medal

U.S. fourth in loss to Poland; Japan loses on title by 0.02
Germany defeats the U.S. in a women's team pursuit semifinal heat as injured Anni Friesinger slides across the finish line.

VANCOUVER (AFP) -- Germany edged out Japan to win the Olympic Games women's speed skating team pursuit title on Saturday, but only after golden girl Anni Friesinger-Postma had crawled comically across the line in the semi-finals.

Racing against the US, the 33-year-old stumbled on the final lap before slipping headfirst along the Richmond Oval ice and then crawling across the final 25 metres to get over the line, just 0.23sec ahead of the Americans.

In the final, the Japanese team led the Germans for five laps as Stephanie Beckert, Daniela Anschuetz-Thomas and Katrin Mattscherodt trailed by more than a second.

But in the final 600 meters Germany turned up the heat and crossed the line in 3min 2.82sec to take gold by just 0.02sec.

The Japanese team of Masako Hozumi, Nao Kodaira and Maki Tabata took silver with Poland claiming bronze.

"My feelings are up and down. It was like a carousel. I nearly messed it up," said Friesinger-Postma.

"I thought, 'No, No, I'm falling'. I thought I messed up for the team. I yelled but no one heard me, so I just kept on going."

In the men's event, Canada's Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux took the pursuit gold, their country's first speed skating medal of the Games.

The Canadians broke the Olympic record twice on the first day in the quarter-final and semi-finals as they defeated Italy and defending champions Norway.

In the final, they saw off a United States squad anchored by Chad Hedrick, the owner of four Olympic medals entering what he has said will likely be the final race of his career.

"It's pretty cool. It couldn't be a better feeling. I gave everything I had out there," said Morrison.

The Canadians skated their final race in 3min 41.37sec, just 0.21sec faster than the 3:41.58 put up by Hedrick, Brian Hansen and Jonathan Kuck.

"Today it was just a special event. I am skating with two guys here and it's their first Olympics," said Hedrick.

"To look at these guys and see the twinkle in their eye when they get their medal is an honor.

"It's my time to move on. They are the successors and they now have a taste of the Olympics."

Finishing with the bronze was the Netherlands team of Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Mark Tuitert.

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