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    Monday, February 9, 1998

    Bedard finishes in back of pack

    By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

      Four years ago, when she was powering her way to the top of the world in Lillehammer, there was nothing in her sight but a medal for Myriam Bedard.
      Yesterday, in a driving snow on a course snaking through blunt mountains, all she could think about was finishing.
      "I'm happy I finished today, that I didn't quit," said the double-gold medal winner in Norway who slipped all the way to 50th in the 15-kilometre individual competition.
      "I feel very horrible. They were very tough conditions for gliding. It was like I had glue under my skis. After five kilometres, I was dying."
      As she stood near the finish line, the big scoreboard flashed before Bedard's eyes, each update pushing her farther down the field.
      So much has happened since Lillehammer, the events perhaps having as much to do with yesterday's disappointing finish as a poor choice of skis and wax or an unreliable weather report.
      Since her double triumph in Norway, Bedard got married and had a daughter and training gave way to her second career as a spokesperson and motivational speaker.
      There were struggles, too. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and a year ago doctors discovered she was allergic to a number of foods.
      Perhaps the fire that propelled her to her gold-medal performances in Norway had dulled. She found a way to bring herself to Nagano, here to a course through towering pines, perhaps to give it one last try.
      The driving snow, which had abated by the end of the event, turned the race into a "casino," said Bedard.
      "Five years from now, people will look back and wonder how did she do so bad? They won't remember the conditions. They won't be able to see the reason why. I will have to live with the fact that on paper, it's a bad result."
      The race was won by Ekaterina Dafovska of Bulgaria in a time of 54 minutes 52 seconds. Dafovska was tied with Bedard in 51st place in the World Cup standings entering the race.
      Bedard, whose time of one hour, two seconds and 44.1 seconds included three minutes in penalties for three missed targets, wound up 10 spots ahead of Toronto's Nikki Keddie who clocked a time of 1:08:46.5.