Friday, February 20, 1998
Rain forces cancellation of second heatNAGANO, Japan (AP) -- A steady rain and mild temperatures forced race officials to cancel the second heat of the four-man bobsled Friday, setting up a two-run dash for the gold.
After a meeting with the 32 teams, bobsled officials canceled the run and decided to finish the race with two heats on Saturday. The forecast called for sunny skies and mild temperatures.
Christoph Langen held the lead after one run. He piloted Germany 2 to a track-record 52.70 seconds.
Despite the rain, Langen, who went ninth, broke Brian Shimer's Spiral mark by one-hundredth of a second and also broke Shimer's start record, posting a 4.78-second start.
That vaulted Langen past Sean Olsson in Britain 1. Olsson was the first sled out of the chute and posted a time of 52.77 for the early lead.
In third was Christian Reich in Switzerland 2 with a time of 52.88, followed closely by Shimer in USA 1 at 52.93.
Naomi Takewaki of Japan didn't put his home-ice advantage to good use, finishing in 53.73 and out of medal contention already. But he was ahead of Jim Herberich in USA 2 by a hundredth of a second.
Before the days of refrigeration, Olympic bobsled suffered several times from bad weather. The 1928 games at St. Moritz were limited to two runs because of heavy thawing; in 1936 at Garmisch, heavy rain disrupted the first day of competition before a cold wave settled in overnight; in 1968 at Grenoble the danger of a sudden thaw forced officials to limit the contest to only two runs; and in 1988 at Calgary, the third run of two-man was postponed because of sand and dirt on the track, the result of warm weather and high winds.
The rain didn't spoil the day for Matt Hindle, a member of Chris Lori's Canada 2 sled. Although he was ailing from a five-stitch cut caused by a piece of falling glass in the Olympic village on Wednesday night, Hindle was there on Friday to push, wearing a special pad to protect the cut.
But the yellow-and-white Canada 2 was in the middle of the pack of 32 sleds, well out of medal contention.
This Olympics proved a bust for Reto Goetschi, who failed to qualify his Switzerland 3 sled. Goetschi, who won the two-man silver at Lillehammer, easily won the four-man here last year at the Olympic test event, beating Shimer by nearly a half-second, and was expected to be in medal contention here.