Is Anni Another Anna?
Germany's Friesinger has two shots left to live up to the hype
This is an article from the Feb. 20, 2002 issue
Long before photographs of her Amazonian hindquarters were
helping to sell German tabloids, Anni Friesinger was just a
small-town rink rat in the Bavarian hamlet of Inzell. The
daughter of Georg and Janina, both world-class speed skaters in
the 1970s, Anni learned to skate when she stuffed cotton in the
toes of the too-large skates she received at the age of four.
Since then, she says, "my dreams grew with me."
Friesinger, 25, again has some big shoes to fill. With
eight-time Olympic medalist and defending 3,000-meter Olympic
champion Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann of Germany pregnant and
sitting out the competition, Friesinger entered the Games as a
favorite in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. In the former, on Feb.
10, she powered to an Olympic-record 3:59.39 on the ultrafast
Utah Olympic Oval, only to see the mark evaporate minutes later
when countrywoman Claudia Pechstein lowered her own world record
with a winning time of 3:57.70. Friesinger ended up fourth. On
Sunday she lumbered to fifth in the 1,000 behind Chris Witty and
now looks to her final two races, the 1,500 today and the 5,000
on Saturday, as a chance to live up to the pre-Olympic hype. "I
feel lots of pressure but am in excellent health," says
Friesinger, who is undefeated this World Cup season in the three
longest events. "You can be strong mentally, have the best
equipment and be nothing if you are not in top condition. As an
athlete, my body is my temple."
Plenty of her countrymen are prepared to worship. The scantily
clad subject of several magazine spreads, she is speed skating's
answer to Anna Kournikova. "She's very free and open," says
manager Klaus Karcher of Friesinger, who gets more press for the
Celtic flame tattoo on her belly than the rest of her teammates
do for their skating. "Sometimes, [her openness] gets her in
Take last year, when Friesinger publicly dismissed the methods
of national training centers in Berlin and Erfurt as "no fun."
Friesinger trains almost exclusively on an outdoor oval in
Inzell with younger brother Jan, 21, who yesterday placed 41st
in the 1,500 meters. "I go my own way," says Friesinger.
With Pechstein back for the 5,000 along with Jennifer Rodriguez
of the U.S., who took bronze in the 1,000 on Sunday, Friesinger
hopes her way finally leads to the medal stand. She is running
out of races. "I've never been a patient person," she said last
Friday. "I want all of my wishes to come true." --Kelley King
Ole, Ole, Ole!
What biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen needs is just a little more
dedication. A bit more practice. A tad more commitment.
According to Team Norway coach Erlend Slokvik, that is all that
is separating Bjoerndalen from being one of the best in the world.
Of course, he's already the best in the world in the biathlon.
With his blowout victories in the individual, sprint and pursuit,
Bjoerndalen is the only triple gold medalist at these Olympics,
an achievement Slokvik once considered "impossible."
While Bjoerndalen's normally erratic shooting has been excellent
here, his skiing has made the difference. On Feb. 9 in the 30-km
cross-country event, Bjoerndalen finished sixth, less than 13
seconds from the rare feat of winning a medal in a second sport
at a Winter Games. The 28-year-old shoots for his fourth gold
today in the 4x7.5-km cross-country relay. (He would join speed
skaters Eric Heiden of the U.S., in 1980, and Lydia Skoblikova
of the U.S.S.R., in 1964, as the only athletes to win four or
more golds in one Winter Games.) "If he tried only cross-country
for one to two years," says Slokvik, "he'd be one of the best."
When Bjoerndalen dedicates himself, even the impossible is
possible. --Gene Menez
Where are they now?
Carol Heiss Jenkins FIGURE SKATING
Olympic Highlights: Gold medal in 1960; silver medal in 1956
Forty-two years after she skated into our hearts in Squaw
Valley, Heiss Jenkins is still sliding effortlessly over the
ice. For the past three decades the 62-year-old has worked as a
skating coach in suburban Ohio, nurturing such talents as Salt
Lake bronze medalist Timothy Goebel, 1998 Olympic alternate
Tonia Kwiatkowski and Heiss Jenkins's current star, 17-year-old
Parker Pennington, the 2001 national junior champion and a good
bet to make the 2006 Olympic team. "For me there's still
something about skating, right down to the smell of the rink and
the cold," says Heiss Jenkins, a five-time world champion
(1956-60) and the first American woman to land a double Axel in
competition. "Just being out there gliding around, it's
wonderful." Following her Olympic triumph, Heiss married Hayes
Jenkins, himself a gold medalist, in the men's skating
competition at the 1956 Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Like
Sonja Henie before her, she headed for Hollywood and even
starred in the 1961 film Snow White and the Three Stooges, a
$3.5 million production that she says "was a wonderful
experience." She and her husband eventually settled in Akron,
where Hayes worked as a lawyer and the couple raised three
children. (The brood now includes six grandchildren.) In 1999
they moved from Akron to nearby Westlake so Heiss Jenkins could
be closer to her skating base, Lakewood's Winterhurst Ice Rink.
"Being around young people keeps me young," says Heiss Jenkins.
"I can't ask for a better job. I'll probably die with my skates
Q: What's the difference between a luge sled and a skeleton sled?
A: They travel the same tracks, but the two are about as similar
as a Jaguar and a Jeep. In luge (French for "sled") a slider
rides on a fiberglass "pod" with curved edges that stabilize the
lower body during feetfirst descents of up to 90 mph. Sleds used
in skeleton (the name comes from the bare-bones construction of
the sled's frame) have no such features. A skeleton sled is six
to nine inches shorter and about 40 pounds heavier than a luge.
While the headfirst, facedown approach of skeleton may make it
look like a wilder ride, it's actually the safest sliding sport.
Because skeleton sleds are controlled with subtle body movements
rather than by the runners that lugers press with their calves,
it's much more difficult for a driver to wipe out on a turn.
For the record
Yesterday's winners, notable results and a look at the overall
the medal stand
LEADERS [Gold] [Silver] [Bronze] TOTAL
Germany 8 13 7 28
United States 6 8 7 21
Norway 9 6 2 17
Russia 5 5 3 13
Austria 1 3 9 13
Italy 3 2 4 9
France 3 3 1 7
Canada 2 1 4 7
Finland 3 2 1 6
Switzerland 3 1 2 6
The Netherlands 2 3 0 5
China 1 0 2 3
Bulgaria 0 1 2 3
Sweden 0 1 2 3
Australia 2 0 0 2
Spain 2 0 0 2
Croatia 1 1 0 2
South Korea 1 1 0 2
Czech Republic 1 0 1 2
Estonia 1 0 1 2
Japan 0 1 1 2
[Gold] Ales Valenta
[Silver] Joe Pack
[Bronze] Alexei Grichin
[Gold] Derek Parra
UNITED STATES 1:43.95 (WR)
[Silver] Jochem Uytdehaage
THE NETHERLANDS 1:44.57
[Bronze] Adne Sondral
[Gold] Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers
UNITED STATES 1:37.76
[Silver] Sandra Prokoff and Ulrike Holzner
[Bronze] Susi Erdmann and Nicole Herschmann
Men's 1.5-km Sprint
[Gold] Tor Arne Hetland
[Silver] Peter Schlickenrieder
[Bronze] Christian Zorzi
Women's 1.5-km Sprint
[Gold] Julija Tchepalova
[Silver] Evi Sachenbacher
[Bronze] Anita Moen
Women's Short Program
Michelle Kwan of the U.S. holds a slim lead over Russian rival
Irina Slutskaya heading into Thursday's free skate at the Salt
Lake Ice Center. The United States' Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes
are in third and fourth place, respectively. The free skate
accounts for 66.7% of the scoring, so any of the top three
skaters can win gold by winning the free.
Women's hockey fans have their dream matchup as the U.S. and
Canada advance to Thursday's gold medal game at the E Center.
Behind a pair of goals and an assist from Cammi Granato and
Natalie Darwitz's seventh goal of the tournament, the U.S.
blanked Sweden 4-0. Canada earned a berth in the final with a
7-3 win over Finland. The gold medal game will be a replay of
the final in Nagano, which the U.S. won 3-1.
take 14 hours, but I'm a bobsled driver, so it only takes me
--Jamaica's WINSTON WATT, a two-time Olympian