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February 12, 1998 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-12

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 12, 1998 - 15A
.Street wins surprise gold in closest-ever women's super-G

HAKUBA, Japan (AP) - Picabo Street,
the master of the unexpected, pulled off her
biggest surprise yet - an Olympic gold medal
in an oh-so-close women's super-G.
:Street, a downhill specialist coming back
from knee surgery and a crash in late January,
was the second racer to come down the hill
sterday and then watched in amazement as
e world's top super-G skiers failed to catch
her.
. I don't Naao1 9
believe what I'm
seeing," she
exclaimed in the
finish area, then,
pumped her fist
4nd screamed in
delight as
favorite Katja
izinger of Germany was unable to beat her
;'ime.
,The silver medalist in the 1994 Olympic
downhill, Street finished in 1:18.02 to edge
iichaela Dorfmeister of Austria by an
astoundingly close one hundredth of a second.
Alexandra Meissnitzer won the bronze medal.
Sizinger was sixth.
;The seven-hundredths of a second separat-
ijU the top three skiers made it the closest fin-
lsh. in Olympic'history. The previous tightest
sh among the medal winners was nine
undredths of a second in the 1992 women's
downhill.
The closest 1-2-3 men's finish was one
tenth of a second in the 1992 men's downhill.
"I made a mistake about midway through
the course;" Street said. "It made me mad and
I just went for it."

Seizinger, the dominant women's skier in
the world for the past two years, blamed the
course, in part, for her sixth-place finish.
"For sure, the course was very soft when I
came down," Seizinger said. "But I cannot
blame only that for my defeat. I expected
Picabo to do well on this course. She's quite
crazy and can be very good, especially in one-
day races"
The race was run in picture-postcard weath-
er - a clear blue sky serving as a backdrop to
snow-covered mountains. It was the first
Alpine medal awarded in the Nagano
Olympics, which have been plagued by snow-
storms that postponed several races.
It was the first time Street had ever really
skied the course. She missed a 1997 World
Cup downhill on the Hakuba slopes while
recovering from left knee surgery, but skied
down the mountain on the back of U.S. assis-
tant coach Andreas Rickenbach. That run
allowed Street to visualize the race - some-
thing she's replayed hundreds of times in her
head during the past year.
"I've waited a long time to be able to attack
the course;' she said.
And it paid off handsomely.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "I don't have
so much pressure on myself in super-G. I think
sorfle of the other people expect more of them-
selves in super-G than I do."
Street's comeback nearly was derailed on
Jan. 31 when she crashed in a World Cup
downhill race in Are, Sweden, leaving her
bruised, sore and with headaches that still
bothered her on the eve of the Olympic super-
G.
On top of that, Street thought she was

doomed when she drew the second starting
spot in the race. With all the recent snow, there
was a good chance of the course getting faster
as skiers pushed off fresh snow.
"I was really bummed about it, because it
didn't look like a very good start number," she
said. "But I'm happy about it now. It was the
best start number in the world."
Street, the free-spirited leader of the U.S.
women's ski team, is far different than most of
her peers. At a U.S. squad reception Tuesday
night, while her teammates wore their official
team jackets, Street was dressed in a long
flowery skirt and white sneakers.
Her easy attitude is in stark contrast to the
intensity of the European skiers.
"What happened here today is going make
Katja (Seizinger), Martina (Ertl) and Hilde
(Gerg) very angry," she said, referring to the
three German skiers, who placed sixth, sev-
enth and 10th.
Street is the second straight American to
win the women's super-G, following Diann
Roffe's gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer
Games. Roffe, who is a TV commentator at
these Olympics, was at this race.
Dorfmeister came from the 18th starting
position to claim the silver medal. Meissnitzer
raced from the fifth starting position.
Dorfmeister was skiing with a brace on her
thumb and a specially-designed glove, having
injured her thumb in a World Cup downhill
earlier this season.
Kate Monahan of Aspen, Colo., finished
29th in 1:20.25. Jonna Mendes of South Lake
Tahoe, Calif., was 32nd in 1:20.35. Kirsten
Clark of Raymond, Maine, slipped near the
top of the course and did not finish.

AP PHOTO
Downhill specialist Picabo
Street recovered from a
frightening crash in January
to win the womens' super-
G, finishing one hundredth
of a second over Austria's
Michaela Dorfmeister.

i

S, Nagano 1998 medal count
Nation G S B Total
Germany 4 4 4 12
Norway 2 2 3 7
Russia 4 3 0 7
Austria 0 2 4 6
inland 2 1 2 5
Italy 0 3 1 4
Japan 2 1 0 3
Canada 1 1 1 3
United States 2 0 1 3
etherlands 1 1 0 2
Czech Rep. 0 1 1 2
Bulgaria 1 0 0 1
France 1 0 0 1
Ukraine 0 1 0 1

Snowboarder tests positive fr marijuana

TORONTO (AP) -- Ten years after the Ben
Johnson scandal, the Nagano Games were sup-
posed to be Canada's best Olympics ever.
But dismay replaced pride when news broke that
the country's new snowboarding hero faced losing
his gold medal after drug tests turned up traces of
marijuana in his system.
"It's a bit like deja vu and a nightmare all over
again," Canadian Olympic Association chief Carol
Anne Letheran said.
But if Canadians felt betrayed by Johnson, they
rallied behind snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.
"No one's angry or embarrassed," said John
Wells, editor of the twice-weekly newspaper in
Rebagliati's hometown of Whistler, British
Columbia. "If anything, they're quite protective of
Ross."
Rebagliati was a front-page national hero
Monday after winning the first-ever Olympic
snowboarding event.
le was back on the front pages yesterday, and
the focus of virtually every TV and radio news-
cast, as Canadians tried to absorb the bad news.
"Gold medal gone to pot'?" blared the tabloid
headline on the Toronto Sun.
Even at Parliament in Ottawa, the debacle was
topic No. 1.
Opposition leader Preston Manning, whose
right-wing Reform Party has a tough anti-drug

stance, took a pro-Rebagliati position.
"We shouldn't give up that medal without a
fight," he said.
Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, whose portfo-
lio includes the Olympic program, declined com-
ment pending the outcome of a Canadian appeal of
the disqualification.
Should the appeal fail, Rebagliati would join
Johnson as the only other Olympian to lose a gold
medal because of drug tests. Johnson was stripped
of his medal and 100-meter world record in 1988
in Seoul for using the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
Rebagliati told Canadian officials he hadn't
used marijuana since April 1997, but was in close
contact with marijuana smokers on Jan. 31 in
Whistler, before he left for Nagano.
Many Canadians were outraged that Rebagl tati
faced the same penalty as Johnson even though
marijuana, unlike steroids, is not considcei a
drug that improves performance.
"Pot doesn't affect your performance it's like
alcohol," said Alex Taylor, editor of a Calgary
snowboard magazine. "If he had tested positive for
drinking, no one would say anything."
In Whistler, Canada's trendiest ski resort town,
Rebagliati's friends said they still planned a big
welcome-home party next week.
"My plan is to go ahead with everything,
regardless," party organizer Graham Turner said.

"Ross has still got the gold to everyone. in
Whistler. lie just might not be on the cover of the
Wheatis box."
Rebal iati and Johnson are not the only top
Canaan athletes ensnared by drug tests.
Olympic ower Silken Laumann, who was even-
tually exonerated, lost her gold medal at the 1995
Pan American Games after using an over-the-
counter decongestant that contained a banned
stimulant.
Four Canadian weightlifters selected for the
Seoul Olympics were disqualified. They went so
far as to try duping drug testers by insertiig
another person's urine into their bladders.
Two Canadian weightlifters were disqualified at
the )84 los Angeles Olympics for steroid use,
H eading into the Nag ano Games, Canadians
were hoping for their biggest medal haul ever at a
Winter Olympics, up from 13 in Norway four
years ago.
But problems arose almost as soon as the tear
arrived in Japan, when French-speaking athletes
from Quebec felt slighted by the almost exclusive
use of English at an official welcoming reception.
Ken Warren, president of the Canadian Olympic
Assoeition, felt compelled to apologize after the
gaffe created a furor in Quebec.

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