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    Friday, February 20, 1998

    Shimer's driving bumble relegates him to fourth

     NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Warm runners. Warm, rainy weather. What's the difference? Brian Shimer can't seem to buy a break in his bobsled.
     Four years ago at Lillehammer, Shimer became the first man in Olympic history to be disqualified for having sled runners that were too warm, which gives a team a sliding advantage.
     Now the weather was giving Shimer fits. A steady rain and temperatures in the mid-30s Friday made things difficult for the 35-year-old, four-time Olympian.
     Although Shimer guided USA 1 into fourth place after one run of the four-man bobsled, he could have done much better.
     "It was a nightmare for me," said Shimer, who finished the first run in 52.93 seconds, before the second run was canceled because of the weather. "I'm sure I had to be worse than anybody else that came down in the top 10."
     The mistake came coming out of Turn 10 on the 15-turn Spiral course. He was 11-hundredths of a second ahead of Sean Olsson in Britain 1, then slammed the wall and lost valuable milliseconds.
     "I was very late into (Turn) 11, and that starts the uphill section," Shimer said. "That's one place you don't want to make a mistake, and I just couldn't recover."
     That left Shimer in striking distance of a medal, which would be the first for the United States since Arthur Tyler won the four-man bronze at Cortina, Italy, in 1956.
     "It's very difficult to drive a sled down a wet track because there's no control whatsoever, and that's what we were having trouble with," U.S. coach Steve Maiorca said. "We came off with a good start and then Brian lost control. But we're in the hunt."
     Shimer was facing an uphill struggle chasing Christoph Langen of Germany. He had an edge of 28-hundredths of a second. Olsson was second and Christian Reich of Switzerland third, ahead of Shimer by just five-hundredths of a second in the race for bronze.
     Langen appeared to be the team to beat before the competition began. He had the fastest start times in practice during the week, then stepped it up at race time. Though he went ninth, Langen still managed to break the track record and the start record, which were set last year set by Shimer.