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  • canada sked medal results SLAM!  NAGANO

    Saturday, February 14, 1998

    Canucks make skating history

  • Results

    By JIM O'LEARY -- SLAM! Sports

     NAGANO -- The new queen's of speedskating delivered a heart-stopping Valentine's greeting to Canada early Saturday morning by making Olympic history.
     Catriona Le May Doan of Saskatoon and Susan Auch of Winnipeg, going head to head in the final, won the gold and silver medals in the women's 500-metres, the first time that Canadians had swept gold and silver in a single Olympic event.
     "Seeing those two Canadian flags go up there -- Wow! -- that was really something," said Le May Doan. "This feels great. I don't know if it's totally sunk in yet."
     Le May Doan, 27, broke the Olympic record she had set one day earlier, clocking 38.21 seconds to take the gold ahead of Auch, who had a time of 38.51. Le May Doan's total, winning time (the first run was held Frday) was 76.60 seconds, compared to 76.93 for Auch.
     "When I saw Catriona raise both her arms at the finish line, I was delighted," said Auch. "I didn't want anyone besides Catriona to win the race if it couldn't be me."
     Japanese skater Tomomi Okazaki was third with a two-day total of 77.10 seconds.
     "I told Catriona, 'Great race,' and she said to me, 'Great race,' then we both laughed," Auch said.
     The women then joined together for victory laps, waving a Canadian flag, hugging and smiling and glowing in the applause of a sold-out arena. At the medal ceremony, Auch appeared on the verge of tears while Le May Doan sang O Canada.
     "I was really choked up" Auch said. "Watching the flag going up really touched me. It felt different than Lillehammer."
     Le May Doan held both a Saskatchewan flag and Canadian flag on the podium. Although she trains and lives in Calgary, she still calls Saskatoon home. Her parents were in the stands to watch her gold-medal performance.
     "Saskatchewan is where I'm from," she said. "I may live in Calgary, but that's where I grew up. That's where I tell people I'm from."
     The gold medal was the first ever for a Canadian female speedskater in an individual event. The silver medal was the second of Auch's Olympic career; she also placed second four years ago at Lillehammer. Combined with the silver and bronze medals won by Jeremy Wotherspoon and Kevin Overland in the men's 500, Canadians have won four of the six speedskating medals handed out to date.
     The Canadians clapped their way to the medal podium, riding like a couple of red rockets on the controversial clap skate. Le May Doan became the world's most dominant female sprinter after she switched to the hinged clap blade last fall. She has been almost unbeatable this season in the sprints and, last November, became the first female to break the 38-second barrier.
     In Friday's first round, she set an Olympic record of 38.39 seconds, just 3/100ths ahead of Auch. As the two fastest skaters, they were paired to go head to head in the final.
     "Catriona had a good (first) race but she was a little tight around the back stretch, so I think we'll see even more from her (in the final)," said Derrick Auch after the first round. Auch coaches both Le May Doan and Auch, his sister.
     With Le May Doan and Susan Auch paired against each other in the final, Derrick Auch was facing an interesting dilemma. He had to pick between his two prize pupils and, quite naturally, went the blood route. He was in his sister's corner.
     But the way Le May Doan has competed this season, Auch's decision was a moot point.
     After placing seventh in World Cup standings a year ago, Le May Doan, 27, has been almost unbeatable since embracing clap-skate technology.
     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 came to Nagano having won five of six World Cup races, finishing second (to Auch) in the other . And she has won in record times, beating the world record four times in the past three months, taking it to 37.55 seconds. She also holds the world record at 1,500 metres.
     Auch won an Olympic silver medal in the 500 metres in 1994 in Lillehammer, Canada's first speedskating medal since Gaetan Boucher won two golds and a bronze at the 1984 Sarajevo Games. Prior to these Games, Canada had won just 12 medals in Olympic history. But with medals already won by Jeremy Wotherspoon and Kevin Overland in the men's 500 metres and more medals expected from the men's 1,000, and the women's 1,000 and 1,500, the Nagano Games have shaped up as the best ever for Canadian speedskaters.
     Canada's athlete of the year in 1995, Auch had reason a year ago to believe these Olympics might become her show. Then Le May Doan starting recording fantastic times in the fall.
     In November, she broke the world record of 37.90 on consecutive days in Calgary. Then she lowered it twice more in December.
     In January, Le May Doan, who placed in the 500 at the 1994 Winter Olympics, won the World Speedskating Championships in Berlin, with Auch second. Le May Doan has who won seven of 12 World Cup races this season and will also race in the1,000 and 1,500 metres at Nagano.
     For the first time at an Olympics, the 500-metre event was
     held over two days with competitors setting off from one lane on the first day,
     then from the other the next. Alternating between inside and outside lanes was intended to make the competition more fair.


     NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Final results Saturday from the women's 500 meter speedskating medal event at the Winter Olympics:
     1, Catriona Le May-Doan, Canada, (38.39, 38.21), 1 minute, 16.60 seconds.
     2, Susan Auch, Canada, (38.42, 38.51), 1:16.93.
     3, Tomomi Okazaki, Japan, (38.55, 38.55), 1:17.10.
     4, Franziska Schenk, Germany, (38.88, 38.57), 1:17.45.
     5, Kyoko Shimazaki, Japan, (38.75, 38.93), 1:17.68.
     6, Marianne Timmer, Netherlands, (39.12, 39.03), 1:18.15.
     7, Sabine Voelker, Germany, (39.19, 39.00), 1:18.19.
     8, Monique Garbrecht, Germany, (39.11, 39.34), 1:18.45.
     9, Svetlana Zhurova, Russia, (39.11, 39.38), 1:18.49.
     10, Chris Witty, West Allis, Wis., (39.09, 39.44), 1:18.53.
     11, Eriko Sammiya, Japan, (39.25, 39.31), 1:18.56.
     12, Shiho Kusunose, Japan, (39.56, 39.24), 1:18.80.
     13, Linda Johnson-Blair, Canada, (39.24, 39.57), 1:18.81.
     14, Xue Ruihong, China, (39.49, 39.53), 1:19.02.
     15, Anke Baier-Loef, Germany, (39.73, 39.75), 1:19.48.
     16, Anzhelika Kotyuga, Belarus, (39.76, 39.85), 1:19.61.
     17, Becky Sundstrom, Glen Ellyn, Ill., (40.20, 39.66), 1:19.86.
     18, Sandra Zwolle, Netherlands, (39.98, 39.88), 1:19.86.
     19, Moira DiAndrea, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., (39.83, 40.09), 1:19.92.
     20, Edel Hoiseth, Norway, (40.02, 39.99), 1:20.01.
     21, Oksana Ravilova, Russia, (39.99, 40.04), 1:20.03.
     22, Wang Manli, China, (40.01, 40.06), 1:20.07.
     23, Yang Chunyuan, China, (39.92, 40.24), 1:20.16.
     24, Marieke Wijsman, Netherlands, (40.22, 40.57), 1:20.79.
     25, Choi Seung-yong, South Korea, (40.17, 40.62), 1:20.79.
     26, Amy Sannes, St. Paul, Minn., (40.41, 40.49), 1:20.90.
     27, Lezhya Belozub, Ukraine, (40.42, 40.52), 1:20.94.
     28, Tatiana Danshina, Russia, (40.53, 40.59), 1:21.12.
     29, Chun Hee-joo, South Korea, (40.67, 40.95), 1:21.62.
     30, Kang Mi-young, South Korea, (40.96, 41.29), 1:22.25.
     31, Lyudmila Kostyukevich, Belarus, (41.00, 41.43), 1:22.43.
     32, Krisztina Egyed, Hungary, (41.20, 41.41), 1:22.61.
     33, Michelle Morton, Canada, (42.95, 39.84), 1:22.79.
     34, Kim Joo-hyun, South Korea, (41.36, 41.43), 1:22.79.
     35, Kim Jong, North Korea, (42.17, 41.57), 1:23.74.
     36, Jin Hua, China, (1:04.07, 40.32), 1:44.39.
     37, Andrea Nuyt, Netherlands, (39.62, 1:18.32), 1:57.94.
     38, Emese Hunyady, Austria, DQ.