Thursday, February 19, 1998
Le May Doan wins bronze
Le May Doan joined some special company early this morning when she won a bronze medal in the women's 1000 metres. The bronze compliments the 500-metre gold medal she won on Valentine's Day and makes her just the fourth Canadian Olympian ever to follow up a gold-medal performance with a second medal at the same Games in an individual event.
"I'm awestruck," she said. "At the beginning of the year I never dreamed of winning two Olympic medals. So when I won the bronze today I felt dumbfounded."
The bronze was Canada's 13th medal of the Games, tying the record haul recorded at Lillehammer in 1994.
When she toed the starting line, Le May Doan stood 1,000 metres away from joining Nancy Greene, Gaetan Boucher and Myriam Bedard as the only Canadians to pull a golden double in a single Olympics. Boucher (1984) won two golds and a bronze in speedskating, Bedard (1994) won two gold in biathlon and Green (1968) won a gold and silver in skiing.
Five days earlier, Le May Doan had teamed with Susan Auch of Winnipeg to make history when they won the gold and silver medals in the women's 500 metres. It was the first time Canada had ever finished 1-2 in an Olympic event, winter or summer.
The 1,000, she knew, would be tougher. Le May Doan, starting in the fourth from last group, broke the Olympic record and posted the time to beat, 1:17.37. It fell two pairings later when Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands, who had already won a gold in the 1,500 metres, clocked 1:16.51.
The final group had Auch was paired with American Christine Witty. Auch, the world's fastest starter, set a blistering early pace, which probably helped Witty to a time of 1:16.79, good enough for the silver medal behind Timmer. Auch placed 18th.
"It was a fight of a race," said Le May Doan. "I felt relaxed going in but my start wasn't as fast as I wanted. But I persevered."
Le May Doan skated a clean race but, if she made a mistake, it was at the 200-metre mark when she snuck a peek at the clock.
"When I saw my time I didn't think it would be fast enough," she said. "For a split second I was down about it. Then I told myself to just keep working."
When she saw her finish time, Le May Doan's first reaction was that it wouldn't stand up. She caught a break though, when Franziska Schenk, Germany's top medal contender, wiped out.
"This is quite an achievment for Catriona," said her coach, Derrick Auch. "We concentrated more on the 500 for her this year. So this is a bonus. I thought she skated as hard as she could to get that medal."
As a team, the speedskaters had their best Olympics ever, winning one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
"That's the biggest difference between now and the past," Le May Doan said. "We have a whole team medalling, not just one person. As a team, I don't think we could have asked for better results."
Le May Doan, who placed 19th in the 1,000 metres at the 1994 Winter Olympics, bolted from the pack this season to join the world's most dominant female sprinters. In January, she won the World Speedskating sprint championship, with Auch second. Le May Doan has won seven of 12 World Cup races this season in the 500 and 1,000.
She became almost unbeatable in the sprints after adopting the controversial clap skate last fall. The blade of the clap skate is hinged at the toe, rather than permanently set, allowing the full length of the blade to stay in contact with the ice longer with each stride. That increased connection between blade and ice results in a significant increase in speed.
Le May Doan quickly mastered the new technology and combined it with an overall improvement in technique to become Canada's skating Queeen.
She also credits improved training under coach Derrick Auch. The relationship between Le May Doan and Auch's other star skater, his sister Susan, had been somewhat distant, if not strained in past years.. The two were competing for the same prize and it took the coach to bring them together for the benefit of both skaters.
"I wanted Catriona to come train with us," Susan says. "At first, I wasn't thinking so much of her but thought that maybe it would help me."
The relationship, says Auch, was "challenging" at first, but eventually they became friends.
"We learned how to support each other, while competing against each other," Auch said. "
Le May Doan says the turning point in their relationship came in a frank meeting last June.
"We put everything on the table," Le May Doan said. "We tried to anticipate what problems could arise and how we should deal with them. It helped a lot just to talk about it.
"Now I think we both genuinely feel good when either one of us does well."
NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Final results Thursday from the women's 1,000 meter speedskating medal event at the Winter Olympics.
1, Marianne Timmer, Netherlands, 1:16.51.
2, Chris Witty, West Allis, Wis., 1:16.79.
3, Catriona LeMay Doan, Canada, 1:17.37.
4, Sabine Voelker, Germany, 1:17.54.
5, Annamarie Thomas, Netherlands, 1:17.95.
6, Becky Sundstrom, Glen Ellyn, Ill., 1:18.23.
7, Tomomi Okazaki, Japan, 1:18.27.
8, Eriko Sammiya, Japan, 1:18.36.
9, Moira DiAndrea, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 1:18.38.
10, Monique Garbrecht, Germany, 1:18.76.
11, Shiho Kusunose, Japan, 1:18.82.
12, Svetlana Zhurova, Russia, 1:19.04.
13, Jennifer Rodriguez, Miami, 1:19.19.
14, Edel Hoiseth, Norway, 1:19.23.
15, Sandra Zwolle, Netherlands, 1:19.29.
16, Anke Baier-Loef, Germany, 1:19.42.
17, Natalya Polozkova, Russia, 1:19.78.
18, Susan Auch, Canada, 1:19.82.
19, Tatiana Danshina, Russia, 1:19.95.
20, Marieke Wijsman, Netherlands, 1:20.02.
21, Linda Johnson-Blair, Canada, 1:20.42.
22, Kyoko Shimazaki, Japan, 1:20.49.
23, Krisztina Egyed, Hungary, 1:21.23.
24, Choi Seung-yong, South Korea, 1:21.28.
25, Anzhelika Kotyuga, Belarus, 1:21.35.
26, Li Xuesong, China, 1:21.54.
27, Anna Savelyeva, Russia, 1:21.83.
28, Lezhya Belozub, Ukraine, 1:21.84.
28, Xue Ruihong, China, 1:21.84.
30, Chun Hee-joo, South Korea, 1:22.06.
31, Wang Manli, China, 1:22.13.
32, Yang Chunyuan, China, 1:22.20.
33, Sylvie Cantin, Canada, 1:22.46.
34, Lyudmila Kostyukevich, Belarus, 1:22.58.
35, Kim Joo-hyun, South Korea, 1:23.18.
36, Kim Ok, North Korea, 1:23.37.
37, Kim Jong, North Korea, 1:23.88.
38, Kang Mi-young, South Korea, 1:24.18.
39, Ilonda Luse, Latvia, 1:24.32.
NR, Franziska Schenk, Germany, DNF.