Awe-inspiring Aamodt is the man Bode Miller must beat
Alpine combined is not a hot event. Snowboarding? Hot. Moguls?
Hot. Alpine combined, in which times in a downhill run and two
slalom runs are added together to produce a winner, can feel
more like math class than an Olympic event.
This is an article from the Feb. 13, 2002 issue
But back off for a moment and consider what the elders of the
Kitzbuheler Ski Club--the Austrian Alpine cradle that is home to
the storied Hahnenkamm downhill--write in their race bible: "The
winner of the combined, of course, is the true ski champion."
If they are correct--and it's risky to argue ski racing with the
Austrians--then 31-year-old Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway stands
alone in his sport. He has won the Kitzbuhel combined title in
four of the last five years and in his 13-year World Cup career
has finished first, second or third in combined competitions 15
times. Says Croatian slalom specialist Ivica Kostelic of Aamodt,
"He is the greatest skier of the moment; we are all little farts
compared to him."
Aamodt has won five medals over the span of three Games in four
disciplines. Asked this week to describe what it takes to be an
effective combined skier, U.S. racer Bode Miller said, "Aamodt."
Today at Snowbasin, Miller stands between Aamodt and a combined
gold medal--and continued reign as the best all-around skier in
the world. Aamodt stands between Miller and the first step in
what could be a snowballing, three-gold medal run that would send
his Q rating through the roof.
The handicapping is simple: Miller must stay close to Aamodt in
the downhill and then trounce him in the slalom. Aamodt, who
finished fourth in Sunday's downhill, must build a huge lead in
the downhill and then stay upright in the slalom. More intrigue:
Miller is a hell-bent, all-for-nothing racer who would like to
lay it all on the line in the downhill. His coaches, fearful of
injury, would like him to play it safe.
And you thought combined was dull. --Tim Layden
The Blue-Collar Curler
Two days ago Mike Schneeberger carried a paunch and a 20-ounce
bottle of Coke into the United States's opening curling match
against defending world champion Sweden. Then, after his squad
shocked the Swedes 10-5 at The Ice Sheet at Ogden, Schneeberger
begged off doing an interview. "Can you meet me out in the
parking lot?" he asked. "I need a cigarette."
Many of the Winter Olympic sports have a touch of glitz. Then
there's curling, which wears no sequins on its blue collar.
Schneeberger's story is emblematic of that. After playing on two
national championship teams, the 39-year-old from Delano, Minn.,
gave up the sport in 1997 to save money and his marriage. He
failed on both accounts. Schneeberger returned to the sport in
'99 at the request of U.S. skip Tim Somerville. He is currently
going through a divorce (he has a 14-year-old daughter,
Kjirsten) and working as a bindery machine operator.
He competes at the sport because he loves, as he says, "to throw
rocks." Often, Schneeberger will work a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift
at the Timberland Group bindery, then drive 30 minutes to
practice. "It's been a struggle," Schneeberger says. "In summer,
things get better. You get away from the game."
But, he says, the journey has been worth it. He is here, after
all. "Never thought I'd be going to the Olympics," he says.
"With a little potbelly and going bald." --Ivan Maisel
As of yesterday afternoon, the leading item (at $547 with 18
total bids) out of the 26 available on eBay's Official U.S.
Olympic Team Auctions site was one particularly high-caliber
offering: a poster autographed by 29 members of the 1996 U.S.
Olympic shooting team. Bids close on Feb. 17, so there's still
time for that perfect post-Valentine's Day gift. --R.D.
Q: Amid the excesses of the modern Games, just what are some
members of the Olympic family giving up for Lent, which begins
A: Paul Patrick Schwarzacher-Joyce, Ireland, the last-place
finisher out of 53 competitors in the men's downhill: "I just
might give up downhill racing!"
A: Christian Stohr, Switzerland, freestyle skier: "I went to
school in a Catholic monastery for seven years, and I'm not
giving up anything. This is my first time at the Olympics, and I
want to enjoy myself as much as I can."
A: Chris Klug, U.S., snowboarder: "I tried to give up chocolate
two years ago, and that was way too ambitious for me. I have to
think of something a little more reasonable this time around."
A: Lisa Kosglow, U.S., snowboarder: "Nothing. I give up
something every day."
For the record
Yesterday's winners, notable results and a look at the overall
The Medal Stand
LEADERS [Gold] [Silver] [Bronze] TOTAL
United States 3 4 2 9
Austria 1 1 5 7
Norway 3 3 0 6
Germany 2 3 1 6
Russia 1 2 2 5
Finland 2 1 0 3
Italy 2 1 0 3
France 1 1 1 3
The Netherlands 1 1 0 2
Estonia 1 0 1 2
Switzerland 1 0 1 2
Canada 0 1 1 2
Japan 0 1 1 2
Spain 1 0 0 1
China 0 0 1 1
Czech Republic 0 0 1 1
Poland 0 0 1 1
Sweden 0 0 1 1
Korea 0 0 0 0
Kazakhstan 0 0 0 0
Belarus 0 0 0 0
[Gold] Carole Montillet
[Silver] Isolde Kostner
[Bronze] Renate Goetschl
Women's 10-km Classical
[Gold] Bente Skari
[Silver] Olga Danilova
[Bronze Julija Tchepalova
Men's 15-km Classical
[Gold] Andrus Veerpalu
[Silver] Frode Estil
[Bronze] Jaak Mae
[Gold] Janne Lahtela
[Silver] Travis Mayer
United states 27.59
[Bronze] Richard Gay
Men's 500 (two-race total)
[Gold] Casey FitzRandolph
United States 69.23
[Silver] Hiroyasu Shimizu
[Bronze] Kip Carpenter
United States 69.47
Men's Short Program
Russia's Alexei Yagudin leads Japan's Takeshi Honda after the
short program. The competition concludes Thursday evening with
the free skate.
Women's Singles, Runs 1 and 2
Germany's smooth duo--Sylke Otto and Silke Kraushaar--stand
first and third as they head into today's final runs.
The U.S. women's team began its defense of its Olympic title
with a 10-0 win over Germany.
Men's K120 Individual
Poland's Adam Malysz had the best jump in the qualification
round, followed by Slovenia's Robert Kranjec and Sven Hannawald
of Germany. Today's final round begins at 8:30 a.m.
Where are they now?
Sheila Young SPEED SKATING
OLYMPIC HIGHLIGHTS: Took home a full set of medals in 1976,
earning gold in the 500 meters, silver in the 1,500 and bronze
in the 1,000
Twenty-six years after she became the first American to win three
medals at a Winter Games, Young, 51, has returned to the Olympics
for competitive reasons. She's Sheila Ochowicz now, and her
18-year-old daughter, Elli, will be skating tonight in the 500
meters for the United States. "It's nerve-racking," Ochowicz says
about being a spectator. "I know how Elli feels, but there's
nothing that I can do. It makes me wacko."
In the 1970s Ochowicz was one of the finest amateur athletes on
the planet. She won three world championships in speed skating
and three in sprint cycling, including titles in both sports in
the year of her Olympic triumph. (She did not compete at the
Summer Games because women's cycling wasn't an Olympic sport
until 1984.) Ochowicz won her last world cycling crown in '81 and
hung up her skates in '82. "In some ways I understand people who
compete into their 30s," she says, "but there are other things in
Ochowicz, who taught elementary physical education in the
Milwaukee area for 13 years, now lives in Menlo Park, Calif.,
with her husband, Jim, and their 13-year-old son, Alex; the
couple has a second daughter, Kate, 24. All are in Salt Lake
City. "I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and watching the
sport I love," Ochowicz says. "I've truly been blessed." --Mark
--U.S. short-track speed skater Danny Weinstein (above) on the
team's Australian rivals