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  • canada sked medal results SLAM!  NAGANO

    Saturday, February 21, 1998

    Buraas wins men's slalom

     SHIGA KOGEN, Japan (AP) -- In a symbolic changing of the guard, a 22-year-old Norwegian with day-glo orange-red hair won the men's slalom race today, after the great Alberto Tomba abandoned his final Olympics with a sore back.
     With the mountain shaken by a mild earthquake and the Japanese looking on, Hans-Petter Buraas, who looks as if he made a wrong turn at the snowboard venue, triumphed in the last Alpine event of the Nagano Games.
     Buraas was easily the best today in the most technically demanding of all ski races, swerving through the closely positioned gates in a virtual dance on skis.
     His combined time for two runs in the final Alpine event of the Olympics was 1 minute, 49.31 seconds, 1.33 seconds faster than his countryman, silver medalist Ole Christian Furuseth.
     Thomas Sykora of Austria was third, .04 seconds behind Furuseth.
     Matt Grosjean of Aliso Viejo, Calif., was the top American in 15th, wrapping up an Olympics where the U.S. men won no medals. The only medal for any American in the Alpine skiing was Picabo Street's gold in the super-G.
     Today was to have been Tomba's last chance for Olympic glory. No skier had medaled in four Olympics. Tomba had done it in three, and had three golds and two silvers to show for it.
     But he could not overcome the pain. The sore back that had bothered him in recent months was even worse after he crashed in the giant slalom Thursday. He also had a groin pull.
     Tomba skied slowly down his first run, showing none of his usual power and finishing in 17th place, out of the top 15 that make up the first group to ski the second run.
     "He was always the best," Sykora said of Tomba. "Now he's a little bit older, and it's not easy for him to win against Buraas or people like him. But he was here. He tried his best."
     At first, Tomba defiantly told Italian team officials that he would go in the second run. But later, perhaps shaken into reality by a small earthquake that rocked the mountain late in the first run, Tomba decided to withdraw. He left the mountain without comment and watched the race on television.
     The normally outgoing and gregarious Italian spoke only briefly to his sister and spokeswoman, Alessia Tomba, and a few teammates as he waited in disgust at the finish line.
     "He skied 20 gates before the race without feeling any pain. But he felt pain about midcourse in the first run, and even thought about stopping," Alessia Tomba said. "Between runs, things worsened and he decided not to start in the second."
     Perhaps Tomba remembered the days when he, like Buraas, knew no limits.
     Buraas' victory was barely an hour old when he set his sights on the reigning great skier, Austria's Hermann Maier.
     "I will train more in the downhill and super-G next year," Buraas said, "and I will try to beat Hermann Maier for the total World Cup title."
     Furuseth, who like Tomba is 31, could only smile at his young teammate's brashness, and patted him on the back.
     As Norwegian Tom Stiansen, who finished fourth, said, Buraas "is a crazy guy."
     Reddish-orange is only the latest color of his hair. It has also been black, white, and green, among others.
     "I don't know how many colors it has been," Buraas said. "I do it to change the seasons."
     Never a winner on the World Cup circuit but widely acknowledged as a rising star, Buraas stormed ahead with a brilliant second run.
     Norwegians finished in four of the top seven places.
     "It's always the same with them," Sykora said. "They are always very strong at the world championships and the Olympic Games."
     Sykora, the World Cup leader in the event this year, has a history of stumbling in the big races. He had the fastest first run but made a mistake just out of the gate in the second, when one of his poles was caught for an instant between his skis.
     "That is the reason that I didn't find my rhythm," he said. "It's a mistake I had never made before. Maybe I was a little nervous."
     Buraas, who says he "thinks of nothing" as he starts a race, was nearly a second faster than his nearest competition in the second run.
     "I was risking everything," he said.
     Furuseth said he and the other, older skiers, including Tomba, are trying to hold on while the youngsters, such as Buraas, use new techniques. Furuseth said Buraas skis in a straighter line than others and has grown up with the sophisticated new equipment that wasn't around when he and Tomba began skiing World Cup a decade or more ago.
     But Buraas just gave a blank look when asked to explain this brave new style.
     "I don't know," he said. "I just ski."


     SHIGA KOGEN, Japan (AP) -- Final results Saturday from the men's slalom medal event at the Winter Olympics (first and second runs in parentheses):
     1, Hans-Petter Buraas, Norway, (55.28, 2; 54.03, 1), 1 minute, 49.31 seconds.
     2, Ole Furuseth, Norway, (55.53, 3; 55.11, 4), 1:50.64.
     3, Thomas Sykora, Austria, (55.06, 1; 55.62, 12), 1:50.68.
     4, Tom Stiansen, Norway, (55.70, 5; 55.20, 5), 1:50.90.
     5, Christian Mayer, Austria, (56.37, 8; 54.72, 2), 1:51.09.
     6, Thomas Stangassinger, Austria, (55.63, 4; 55.62, 12), 1:51.25.
     7, Finn Jagge, Norway, (56.06, 6; 55.33, 7), 1:51.39.
     8, Joel Chenal, France, (56.68, 14; 54.83, 3), 1:51.51.
     9, Kalle Palander, Finland, (56.37, 8; 55.44, 10), 1:51.81.
     10, Pierrick Bourgeat, France, (56.28, 7; 55.54, 11), 1:51.82.
     11, Matteo Nana, Italy, (56.59, 12; 55.37, 9), 1:51.96.
     12, Didier Plaschy, Switzerland, (56.67, 13; 55.36, 8), 1:52.03.
     13, Kiminobu Kimura, Japan, (56.53, 10; 55.62, 12), 1:52.15.
     14, Sebastien Amiez, France, (56.96, 16; 55.23, 6), 1:52.19.
     15, Matthew Grosjean, Aliso Viejo, Calif., (56.58, 11; 55.98, 16), 1:52.56.
     16, Angelo Weiss, Italy, (56.87, 15; 55.93, 15), 1:52.80.
     17, Matjaz Vrhovnik, Slovenia, (57.36, 20; 57.29, 18), 1:54.65.
     18, Paul Accola, Switzerland, (57.56, 23; 57.35, 19), 1:54.91.
     19, Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, (57.33, 19; 57.63, 21), 1:54.96.
     20, Gaku Hirasawa, Japan, (57.74, 24; 57.50, 20), 1:55.24.
     21, Takuya Ishioka, Japan, (58.85, 28; 56.84, 17), 1:55.69.
     22, Stefan Georgiev, Bulgaria, (57.95, 27; 58.17, 23), 1:56.12.
     23, Hur Seung, South Korea, (59.94, 30; 58.07, 22), 1:58.01.
     24, Gabriel Hottegindre, Uruguay, (1:01.98, 31; 1:01.29, 24), 2:03.27.
     25, Sveinn Brynjolfsson, Iceland, (1:03.52, 32; 1:02.66, 25), 2:06.18.
     26, Alexander Heath, South Africa, (1:06.82, 33; 1:07.62, 27), 2:14.44.
     27, Arsen Haroutiunian, Armenia, (1:07.51, 34; 1:07.60, 26), 2:15.11.
     28, Kamil Urumbaev, Uzbekistan, (1:09.55, 35; 1:09.30, 28), 2:18.85.
     29, Arif Alaftargil, Turkey, (1:12.36, 36; 1:12.73, 29), 2:25.09.
     30, Hassan Shemshaki, Iran, (1:13.59, 38; 1:13.40, 30), 2:26.99.
     31, William Schenker, Puerto Rico, (1:12.95, 37; 1:15.93, 31), 2:28.88.
     First Run
     NR, Alois Vogl, Germany, DNS.
     NR, Fabrizio Tescari, Italy, DNF.
     NR, Andrej Miklavc, Slovenia, DNF.
     NR, Jure Kosir, Slovenia, DNF.
     NR, Kristinn Bjornsson, Iceland, DNF.
     NR, Martin Hansson, Sweden, DNF.
     NR, Mario Reiter, Austria, DNF.
     NR, Markus Eberle, Germany, DNF.
     NR, Thomas Grandi, Canada, DNF.
     NR, Francois Simond, France, DNF.
     NR, Marco Casanova, Switzerland, DNF.
     NR, Mika Marila, Finland, DNF.
     NR, Chip Knight, New Canaan, Conn., DNF.
     NR, Andy LeRoy, Silverthorne, Colo., DNF.
     NR, Kentaro Minagawa, Japan, DNF.
     NR, Haukur Arnorsson, Iceland, DNF.
     NR, Gerard Escoda, Andorra, DNF.
     NR, Arnor Gunnarsson, Iceland, DNF.
     NR, Lubomir Popov, Bulgaria, DNF.
     NR, Sami Uotila, Finland, DNF.
     NR, Victor Gomez, Andorra, DNF.
     NR, Byon Jong, South Korea, DNF.
     NR, Angel Pumpalov, Bulgaria, DNF.
     NR, Arne Hardenberg, Denmark, DNF.
     NR, Vassilis Dimitriadis, Greece, DNF.
     NR, Levan Abramischvili, Georgia, DNF.
     NR, Andreas Vassili, Cyprus, DNF.
     NR, Alain Baxter, Britain, DQ.
     Second Run
     NR, Alberto Tomba, Italy, DNS.
     NR, Andrzej Bachleda, Poland, DNF.
     NR, Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., DNF.
     NR, Thomas Loedler, Croatia, DNF.
     NR, Marcel Maxa, Czech Republic, DNF.
     NR, Peter Ditschev, Bulgaria, DNF.
     NR, Drago Grubelnik, Slovenia, DQ.