CANOE NAGANO '98 ISP DIRECTORY
Saturday, February 14, 1998
Le May Doan strikes gold, Auch silver at M-Wave
NAGANO, Japan (CP) -- Canadian favorite Catriona Le May Doan powered her way to gold in the 500 metres today while teammate Susan Auch won silver for the second Olympics in a row.
The world record-holder from Saskatoon had a two-run aggregate time of 1:16.60 ahead of Auch in 1:16.93 but she needed to catch Auch after her Winnipeg rival got off to a blistering start. Auch finished in 38.51.
Le May Doan broke the Olympic record for the second day in a row. She finished in 38.21 today after winning the first leg of the race on Friday morning in 38.39, erasing Bonnie Blair's time of 39.10 set at the 1988 Calgary Games.
Tomomi Okazaki of Japan won the bronze in 1:17.10.
The two Canadian medallists waved to Canadian supporters at the end of the arena and hugged each other before a Canadian flag found its way to Le May Doan on a victory lap.
A beaming Le May Doan waved a large Canadian flag and a small Saskatchewan flag on the victory prodium, while her parents watched from the stands. Auch also brandished the Maple Leaf.
It was Canada's second gold at the Games. The first went to snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who had to win an appeal to get the medal back after testing positive for marijuana.
Canadian men have already won a silver and bronze in speed skating at the Games.
But this was the first ever gold in the sprint event for a Canadian speed skater at the Olympics.
Linda Johnson Blair of Fort St. John, B.C., finished 13th and Michelle Morton of Calgary placed 33rd.
Le May Doan, 27, has set the world record in the 500 four times since November, including back-to-back record races in December in Calgary when she was clocked in 37.71 and 37.55.
Le May Doan has dominated her sport all season, winning seven of 12 World Cup races and becoming the first Canadian woman to claim the world overall sprint title since Syvia Burka in 1997.
She has made the most of the new clap skate, which is hinged at the toe to allow the heel to lift.
This may only be the beginning of the five-foot-seven, 140-pound skater's medal haul. She is also competing in the 1,000, in which she also holds the world record, and the 1,500.
Success in Nagano comes in her third Olympics. She fell in the 500 in Lillehammer in '94, when she finished 19th in the 1,000 and 17th in the 1,500.
In '92 at Albertville, France, she was 14th in the 500 and 31st in the 1,000.
Le May Doan learned to skate playing ringette, then followed her older sister to the indoor short-track at a Saskatoon arena to try speed skating.
"I enjoyed it right away and I realized how fast I could go," she said in an interview prior to Nagano.
"I had success right away and as a 10-year-old kid I really enjoyed that."
That success translated into Olympic gold some 17 years later.
Auch, 31, is competing in her fourth Olympics. She was sixth in '92 in the 500 and second in '94.
In 1988, she was involved in the demonstration sport of short-track speed skating at Calgary.
Auch is the only woman to beat Le May Doan over 500 metres this year.
For the first time at an Olympics, the 500 metres events for both men and women are being held over two races with competitors starting from one lane on the first day, then from the other.
The change was introduced to prevent the skaters setting off in the favoured inner lane from having an unfair advantage.