Going Four Gold
At 35, Germany's Georg Hackl is sliding for Olympic history

Georg Hackl is 5'8" tall and shaped like a football, his 179
pounds spread over his frame as if it were a warm layer of soft,
freshly baked bread. He can't run fast, jump high or lift
massive amounts of weight, and if you had to identify the sport
in which he is an international star, you would guess bowling,
or maybe bass fishing. He is the pudgy neighbor mowing his lawn
in tight gym shorts, the social studies teacher in polyester
Sansabelts, the little kid who could never get a game.

Yet Hackl, a 35-year-old German, can make Olympic history
tomorrow by winning his fourth consecutive gold medal in luge.
(He had the fastest practice run of the day yesterday;
competition opens at 4 p.m. today with two runs at Utah Olympic
Park.) No athlete in Winter Olympics history has won the same
event four times in a row--beloved U.S. speed skater Bonnie Blair
is among several to have won three straight--and if Hackl had been
half a second faster in Calgary in 1988, he would be gunning for
number five. Just as important as his records, his presence
demands that we reconsider precisely what makes a person an
athlete.

To win at luge requires a fast sled and a steely, fearless driver
who can sit atop a tiny missile as it screams down an icy tube at
speeds surpassing 90 miles per hour. The object is to steer while
moving as little as possible because even the smallest of motions
is transferred immediately to the runners, throwing a sled
off-line. In a sport timed in thousandths of a second, any error
is lethal to success.

Hackl rides as still as a corpse, his movements are more subtle
than a whisper, his driving line a work of art. His skill and
focus are no less impressive than that of the quarterback who
doesn't hear the crowd. On Hackl's best runs his sled seems to
float rather than carve. For a decade and a half he has sat
chilly on a small piece of plastic, staying cooler than the
rest, turning calm into speed, the best at what he does. --Tim
Layden

Happy Harada's Leap of Faith

For five days earlier this month Masahiko Harada of Japan
trained in vain on the ski jumping hills in Nagano. He searched
for the perfect form that would land gold in Salt Lake City but
found nothing. Then he began experimenting. "I tried to jump
without anything on my mind," says Harada, "and I made a
successful jump."

That has been the story for much of Harada's career: major
league ability brought down by a minor league psyche. Four years
ago in Nagano, Harada followed a sack-of-potatoes jump of 79.5
meters with a 137-meter bomb that propelled Japan to the team
gold in the K120 competition and turned "Happy" Harada into one
of the country's most beloved figures. This morning, when
Harada, 33, begins what is expected to be his last Olympics in
the men's K90 finals, he'll take his new technique to the top of
the hill. "This time," Harada says, "I've figured out how to
make February the time when I peak." --Gene Menez

A Second for Bahrke Is Also a First

Shannon Bahrke reveled in a day of firsts on Saturday. Bahrke's
silver medal in moguls, behind favorite Kari Traa of Norway, was
the first for any U.S. athlete at the Salt Lake Games. (Speed
skater Derek Parra followed her performance less than three
hours later with a silver in the 5,000 meters.) The Olympic
rookie also had three dozen family members in attendance,
including her grandparents Carol and Harold Bahrke from Los
Angeles, who had never before seen her compete in person. "I
can't believe I'm on the podium, let alone the first American to
win a medal," Bahrke said. An Alpine racer in high school,
Bahrke, 21, nearly saw her ski career end in 1999 when she
contracted a staph infection that entered her bloodstream. Daily
doses of antibiotics were fed directly into her heart for six
weeks, and in December, in just her second full season since she
fell ill, she defeated teammate Hannah Hardaway at the U.S.
nationals.

Bahrke earned her silver medal on the strength of a helicopter
iron cross jump--a full 360-degree revolution with ski tips
crossed. "Seeing the smile on your dad's face while tears are
rolling down his cheeks," said Bahrke, beaming, "is a feeling
I'll never forget." --Brian Cazeneuve

A Lot of Wiggle Room in Salt Lake

Residents of the Wasatch Valley are celebrating more this month
than just global togetherness and the noble spirit of athletic
competition. Today marks the beginning of JELL-O Week. And boy,
do Utahns like their JELL-O. According to Kraft Foods, the
company that makes the sugary, wiggly dessert, the average Utah
household purchases 21 servings of its colored gelatin every
year--the most in the country and twice the national
consumption.

Why the JELL-O jones? Members of the Mormon Church make up 63%
of the state's population, and their emphasis on family and
frugality, as well as their religion's ban on coffee and tea,
would seem to go a long way to explain why JELL-O is so popular.
The state's ardor is currently on display at the Traveling
JELL-O Museum (at the ZCMI Center Mall until March 5). "People
in Utah are unabashedly, unashamedly JELL-O fans," says Lynne
Belluscio, the curator of the JELL-O Museum in LeRoy, N.Y.,
where the dessert was invented. "It's just a JELL-O rich
environment." --Mark Beech

BURNING QUESTION

Q: Would a hockey player be competitive in speed skating or
short track?

A: The swiftest hockey player would have as good a shot at the
speed skating podium as a speed skater would have at stopping a
Mario Lemieux breakaway: no shot. Says Boston Bruins forward and
U.S. Olympian Bill Guerin (above), winner of the 2001 NHL's
fastest skater competition, "They would blow us away. There's
technique involved in speed skating." To wit: In 1994 Theo
Fleury, one of the speediest skaters in the NHL, raced
Canadian Olympian Susan Auch over 250 meters on the Calgary
Olympic Oval. He lost by 25 meters. "I killed her on the
start, but she got me on the corner," Fleury says. "She was
laughing at me when she went past." --Gene Menez

Where are they now?

JAYNE TORVILL AND CHRISTOPHER DEAN Figure skating
OLYMPIC HIGHLIGHTS: Gold medalists in ice dancing in 1984,
bronze medalists in '94

In 1984 their free skate to Ravel's Bolero was so sultry that it
demanded a standing ovation--and a smoke. Britain's Torvill and
Dean nearly melted the ice with their flawless performance in
Sarajevo, earning perfect 6.0s across the board for artistic
impression (a feat never duplicated at the Olympics in any
figure skating discipline). Almost two decades after those Games
and four years after retirement their lives continue to move in
tandem: Both have American spouses, dabble in skating
choreography and spend most of their time at home. Dean, 43,
choreographs acts for the Stars on Ice tour six weeks a year,
about three of those weeks with Torvill. The rest of the time he
devotes to being with his wife, 1990 world champion Jill
Trenary, and their children, Jack, 3, and Sam, 1, in their
Colorado Springs home. "I'm sort of a professional dad," says
Dean. Torvill, 44, lives in East Sussex, England, two hours from
the nearest rink. She has spent most of the past two years
renovating the five-bedroom home she and her husband, Philip
Christensen, have owned since 1991. "I don't see myself not
being involved in skating," she says, "but I don't feel I have
to pursue it more than I am. I've gotten quite used to being at
home."

Though Torvill and Dean will pair up again this year--to produce
a skating gala for the queen--don't look for a comeback from the
sport's royal couple. "There's a certain time when it's right to
leave the stage," Dean says, "and we've already left." --Gene
Menez

for the record
Yesterday's winners, notable results and a look at the overall
standings

Finals

CROSS-COUNTRY
Women's 15-km Free Mass Start
[Gold]Stefania Belmondo ITALY 39:54.4
[Silver]Larissa Lazutina RUSSIA 39:56.2
[Bronze]Katerina Neumannova CZECH REPUBLIC 40:01.3

Men's 30-km Free Mass Start
[Gold]Johann Muehlegg SPAIN 1:09:28.9
[Silver]Christian Hoffmann AUSTRIA 1:11:31.0
[Bronze]Mikhail Botvinov AUSTRIA 1:11:32.3

FREESTYLE SKIING
Women's Moguls
[Gold]Kari Traa, NORWAY
[Silver]Shannon Bahrke, USA
[Bronze]Tae Satoya, JAPAN

SPEED SKATING
5,000 Meters
[Gold]Jochem Uytdehaage NETHERLANDS 6:14.66 (WR)
[Silver]Derek Parra USA 6:17.98
[Bronze]Jens Boden GERMANY 6:21.73

Other Results

NORDIC COMBINED
Individual K90
U.S. teammates Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong are seventh and
eighth, respectively, heading into the 15-kilometer freestyle
skiing portion that concludes the event today at Soldier Hollow.

The Medal Stand

LEADERS [GOLD] [SILVER] [BRONZE] TOTAL

United States 0 2 0 2
Austria 0 1 1 2
Italy 1 0 0 1
The Netherlands 1 0 0 1
Norway 1 0 0 1
Spain 1 0 0 1
Russia 0 1 0 1
Czech Republic 0 0 1 1
Japan 0 0 1 1
Germany 0 0 1 1
Canada 0 0 0 0
Finland 0 0 0 0
France 0 0 0 0
China 0 0 0 0
Switzerland 0 0 0 0
Korea 0 0 0 0
Sweden 0 0 0 0
Kazakhstan 0 0 0 0
Belarus 0 0 0 0
Bulgaria 0 0 0 0
Denmark 0 0 0 0

COLOR PHOTO: COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER READ MILLER COVER Slide Ruler Georg Hackl goes for a record fourth gold COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Shannon Bahrke bumped her way to the first U.S. medal, a silver, in moguls. [T of C] COLOR PHOTO: NANCIE BATTAGLIA (HACKL) Unathletic-looking but ever unflappable, Hackl is a master of luge's subtle demands. COLOR PHOTO: GARY CASKEY/REUTERS COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (1984) Torrid together in 1984, T&D are still a team--producing skating galas. COLOR PHOTO: FIONA HANSON/AP PHOTO [See caption above] COLOR PHOTO: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP Harada's best jumps come when he has nothing on his mind.
COLOR PHOTO: LYNN JOHNSON COLOR PHOTO: KIMIMASA MAYAMA/REUTERS (PARRA) Parra set a world record that was broken minutes later.

They Said It

"Women tend to push and shove and talk a lot more and be catty."
--Four-time U.S. cross-country skiing Olympian NINA KEMPPEL on
how the women's mass start differs from the men's

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)