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  • canada sked medal results SLAM!  NAGANO

    Monday, February 16, 1998

    Le May Doan unconcerned about 13th-place finish

    By DAN RALPH -- The Canadian Press
     NAGANO, Japan (CP) -- From Olympic gold medallist to being just one of the girls, the Olympic Winter Games have been a study in contrasts for Canadian speed skater Catriona Le May Doan.
     The 27-year-old Saskatoon native was the toast of Canada on Saturday when she set an Olympic record en route to winning the women's 500-metre event.
     But on Monday, Le May Doan slipped 225 metres into the 1,500-metre race and never recovered, finishing a distant 13th.
     If that wasn't enough, Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands broke Le May Doan's world record to capture the gold medal with a time of one minute 57.58 seconds. Le May Doan had established the old mark of 1:57.87 in Calgary on Nov. 29, 1997.
     But Le May Doan is hardly concerned. She says the 1,500 is her worst event, one she rarely practises for and races even less.
     In fact, coach Derrick Auch said Monday's race was only Le May Doan's "third or fourth" the past two years.
     "I think a big part of it was the slip," Le May Doan said. "Definitely I have the strength but when you don't get into a rhythm and when you're tight it's going to catch up with you.
     "When I set the record it was a great race. I just went out there relaxed and that's definitely when I skate my best races. That was the problem in the race (Monday), I wasn't relaxed."
     She didn't flinch when her record fell.
     "Marianne had a great race," Le May Doan said graciously. "She just looked like she kept accelerating.
     "It was very impressive and I was very impressed to see that the record went down. She has been struggling a little bit all year so if the record is going to go it's great to see it's by a great skater with a great race."
     Le May Doan started impressively, posting the fastest interim times through the opening 1,000 metres despite the slip.
     But she faded after she was passed by Austrian Emese Hunyady and finished in 2:02.19.
     Le May Doan didn't go into the race with high expectations, noting that even a great outing would have placed her in the top five.
     More importantly, the longer distance provides a good training session in her preparation for Thursday's 1,000-metre event.
     "I'm glad I had a race between the 500 and the 1,000 because for myself to have four days to prepare for one race is a little bit too much," Le May Doan said. "If I hadn't raced the 1,500 I would've had a really hard workout so either way it's a good setup for the 1,000."
     German Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann finished second in 1:58.66 despite skating by herself.
     Neimann-Stirnemann was scheduled to face Cindy Overland of Kitchener, Ont., but the Canadian scratched due to tonsilitis.
     American Christine Witty took the bronze in 1:58.97.
     Ottawa's Ingrid Liepa, competing in her second and final Olympics, was 24th, five spots ahead of Isabella Doucet of Ste-Foy, Que.