Even in defeat, the legend of Alberto Tomba grows.
The flamboyant Italian playboy won his fifth medal Sunday, silver in slalom, making him the only Alpine skier to medal in three consecutive Games. Austria's Thomas Stangassinger won the gold medal in 2 minutes, 2.02 seconds (1:01.00, 1:01.02); and Slovenia's Jure Kosir took the bronze in 2:02.53 (1:02.55, 59.98).
"He's such an incredible skier, and he can pull out an incredible run at any time," American skier Paul Puckett said. "He's the most incredible skier I've ever watched."
Tomba was 12th fastest in the first run, 1.84 seconds behind Stangassinger.
After changing skis for the afternoon session, Tomba got wild in the second gate and seemed to lose a lot of time.
"I really didn't believe I could win the medal," said Tomba, who finished in 2:02.17 (1:02.84, 59.33). "I made a big mistake right at the top."
But there would be more mistakes at the same spot, and Tomba's run was the fastest of the afternoon.
Former spy finishes first
Two years ago, Harald Czudaj was an exposed secret police informer who had spied on his teammates. Now he's the champion in the four-man event. Czudaj, a German from the formerly communist east, held off a frantic charge by Switzerland's Gustav Weder. Czudaj finished in 3 minutes, 27.78 seconds on four runs. Weder was .06 seconds back, in 3:27.84. Wolfgang Hoppe of Germany won the bronze medal in 3:28.01.
The Jamaicans, who were disqualified from the two-man last week (overweight), finished 14th. Bosnia finished last, but it was a triumph for the war-torn country. Three crew members fled Serb-encircled Sarajevo only over the past two months.
Smirnov gets his gold
Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakhstan, who spent most of his time here finishing second to Norwegian skier Bjorn Daehlie, won the gold medal in the classical 50K. The 29-year-old Smirnov, regarded almost as a countryman by Norwegians because of his close friendship with Norwegian skier-adventurer Vegard Ulvang, had collected a dozen Olympic or world championship medals, but no individual golds. He completed the race in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 20.3 seconds. Mika Myllylae of Finland was second, 1:21.6 behind. The bronze went to Sture Sivertsen of Norway, 1:28.7 back.
Jansen, Blair coach quits
Peter Mueller, the choice of Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair as U.S. Olympic speed skating coach, said he is quitting because he's "just fed up with a lot of things," according to the Milwaukee Sentinel.
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