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Blair falls short in 1,500

Not even the Blair Bunch could help Bonnie this time.

Bonnie Blair, the lone U.S. medal winner in the Winter Games, failed to duplicate her gold-grabbing feat Wednesday night as Germans took the top two spots in the 1,500-meter event.

Jacqueline Boerner beat out teammate Gunda Niemann for the gold medal, setting the pace in the first pair with a time of 2 minutes, 5.87 seconds. Only Niemann came close, winning the silver at 2:05.92. Seiko Hashimoto of Japan won the bronze. The medal made Niemann the Game's first double winner. She captured the gold Sunday in the 3,000.

Blair finished a disappointing 21st out of 32 skaters. She wasn't even the fastest American; teammate Mary Docter finished 15th to pace the U.S. speed skaters.

Blair, who skated in the last pair of the race, turned in one of the fastest first laps but slowed visibly at the end.

Frenchmen finish 1-2

COURCHEVEL, France _ Cowbells rang, horns blew and the Marseillaise filled the air. The home team finally had a gold medal in its own Winter Olympics.

Fabrice Guy, who has dominated the World Cup season, used his strength in Wednesday's cross-country portion to win the two-day competition and send this distinctly non-Nordic country into a frenzy.

The country's major newscasts even opened with 10-minute segments on the 23-year-old.

Sylvain Guillaume made the celebration even bigger by finishing behind Guy for the silver in the event, which combined ski jumping (held Tuesday) and cross-country skiing.

Germans continue domination

LES SAISIES, France _ Former East German biathletes Mark Kirchner and Ricco Gross finished 1-2 in the men's 10-kilometer race for the unified German team, keeping up an Olympic tradition for their homeland. Harri Eloranta of Finland settled for the bronze.

A German, East or West, had won every men's individual biathlon Olympic titles in 1984 and '88 with the exception of Eirik Kvalfoss of Norway, who took the 10K title in '84. Kvalfoss was 47th Wednesday.

Kirchner was only six when he was selected by East German sports officials as a potential biathlete. In 1982, he was "delegated" to a sports school in Oberhof. Gross followed a similar course, starting a special sports school when he was nine.

Unified Team falls

MERIBEL, France _ Ecstatic goalie Petr Briza thrust both arms skyward as the final horn sounded on Czechoslovakia's 4-3 win and, perhaps, the Olympic hockey dynasty of the Soviet Union.

He didn't realize how historic Wednesday night's victory was until he was told that the Soviets, now playing as the Unified Team, had lost just five games in their nine previous Winter Olympics.

"Ever in the Olympics? Oh, we go for beer," Briza said. "Yeah, it's pretty big."

Czechoslovakia and Canada, a 10-0 conqueror of Norway, became the first teams to clinch medal-round berths. Both are 3-0. The Unified Team (2-1) still has an excellent chance to advance.

France won Wednesday's other game, edging winless Switzerland 4-3.

Four teams from each six-team pool make the medal round.

Unknown surprises in combined

MERIBEL, France _ Krista Schmidinger skied the race of her life, a breathtaking 70-mph blitz of the Olympic downhill course. She'll need an even better effort to come away with a medal from the first women's Alpine event.

Schmidinger, of Lee, Mass., mastered notorious bumps and dips, brushed a safety fence and drew gasps from the crowd on her way to the second-fastest time in the downhill portion of the women's combined.

Schmidinger's best event is downhill. The combined ends today with a slalom, and the overall fastest time wins.

That's why Schmidinger spent little time savoring her run, which put her behind only World Cup overall champion Petra Kronberger. Instead, she went out to practice her slalom technique.

Besides Kronberger, Switzerland's Chantal Bournissen, the world champion in the combined, and 1988 Olympic combined winner Anita Wachter of Austria also are in good position.

U.S. mogul skiers advance

TIGNES, France _ After years battling to be taken seriously, freestyle skiers went chasing Olympic medals for the first time.

Two-time world champion Donna Weinbrecht of West Milford, N.J., was second in the women's qualifying, while Nelson Carmichael of Steamboat Spring, Colo., was fourth in the men's.

The leading men's qualifier is world champion Frenchman Edgar Grospiron. His time of 31.8 seconds was slower than Carmichael's 31.5, but his style was superior.

In the women's event, Raphaelle Monod of France was a surprise leader over Weinbrecht, who turned her second of two jumps into a single twister instead of a double.

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