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Sore Kildow ties for eighth

WOMEN'S DOWNHILL

Michaela Dorfmeister waited eight years to erase one one-hundredth of a second. Lindsey Kildow waited all of 48 hours to race past her frightening fall.

Bookending the women's Olympic downhill, the ready-to-retire Dorfmeister finally discarded the disappointment of a near-miss by winning her first Winter Games gold. And the up-and-coming Kildow showed serious guts simply by skiing at all.

"I wanted to get a medal," said Kildow, who tied for eighth, "but I still have more chances - so don't give up on me yet."

The idea of Kildow hurtling down a mountain again at 50 mph during these Olympics seemed farfetched to anyone who saw her body-battering crash in Monday's practice, which left her with a sore back and pelvis.

As the 21-year-old American put it: "It's definitely weird going from the hospital bed to the start gate."

Dorfmeister demonstrated a different sort of perseverance. A month shy of 33, the Austrian plans to quit the World Cup circuit after the season, and primarily stuck around this long for one last shot at Olympic gold - "that elusive medal," as she called it.

"I really enjoyed that moment," Dorfmeister said. "I didn't sleep for two nights, because I was under so much pressure. But this morning I felt very relaxed, and when I took the lift to the start, I said, "Today, I'll do it.' "

Martina Schild of Switzerland won the silver while two-time World Cup overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden was third.

QUICK HITS: The top U.S. finisher was No. 7 Julia Mancuso. Defending Olympic champion Carole Montillet-Carles of France was No. 28 but impressed merely by competing after she, like Kildow, took a nasty spill Monday. Kildow said she won't watch a replay of her crash until after the Olympics.

UP NEXT: Friday, women's combined.

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING

Ohno has a better day

ON THE ICE: Apolo Anton Ohno led the Americans into the finals of the 5,000-meter relay and advanced in the 1,000 on Wednesday night, avoiding the trouble that knocked him out of his first Olympic short track event.

Ohno and his teammates - Rusty Smith, J.P. Kepka and Alex Izykowski - beat China to the line to win their semifinal relay race. The top two teams were in comfortable positions after skaters from Japan and Italy collided with 21 laps to go, leaving them far behind.

The first- and second-place teams advanced to the final, which will be held Feb. 25.

Skating on his own, Ohno did just fine, too. He moved on to Saturday's quarterfinals in the 1,000 with a comfortable victory in this preliminary heat.

Ohno pulled away to win by a comfortable margin of nearly three-10ths of a second, far ahead of any potential mishaps.

Things didn't go so well for Ohno's girlfriend, Allison Baver. She finished third in the 500 semifinals and failed to make the medal race, settling for a spot in the consolation final.

In the women's 500m final, Wang Meng gave China an expected gold medal, holding off Bulgaria's Evgenia Radanova by about the length of a skate blade. Anouk LeBlanc-Boucher of Canada took the bronze, getting to the line ahead of China's Fu Tianyu by an even smaller margin. It didn't matter when Fu was disqualified for cross-drafting.

The 20-year-old Wang, skating in her first Olympics, was an overwhelming favorite in the 500, having won all four World Cup races this season. She fulfilled those expectations, getting off the line first and holding the lead.

Radanova made a desperate lunge for the finish, falling after she crossed and sliding into the padding. But it was only good enough for her second straight silver medal in the event.

QUICK HITS: Wang and Fu grabbed a Chinese flag and headed off for a victory lap, but Wang's skate got tangled in the banner and she tumbled to the ice.

UP NEXT:: Saturday, men's 1000k, women's 1,500k

SPEED SKATING

Hedrick team eliminated

ON THE ICE: Chad Hedrick skated his usual blazing pace around the oval. Alone, he was good enough to be in medal contention. Relying on his teammates, though, cost him a shot at Olympic history.

Hedrick's hope of matching Eric Heiden's record five gold medals in a Winter Olympics ended Wednesday night when the Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals of team pursuit.

Hedrick, KC Boutiette and Charles Ryan Leveille lost to the Italian team of Matteo Anesi, Stefano Donagrandi and Enrico Fabris by nearly a half-second after leading through the first four laps.

Leveille and Hedrick were first across the finish line, but Boutiette lagged about 10 feet behind. The Italians crossed together, giving them the surprising victory on home ice.

"I was behind my teammates and my final sprint came from the crowd support of my country," Donagrandi said. "I gave my best on the rink and felt very emotional."

A team wins when its third skater crosses the finish line.

QUICK HITS: The Americans were without Shani Davis, who skipped the new two-day pursuit to concentrate on his individual races. His decision dealt a blow to U.S. hopes for a medal. In the women's pursuit, Americans Jennifer Rodriguez, Maria Lamb and Catherine Raney were eliminated in the six-lap quarterfinals.

UP NEXT: Today, men's and women's pursuit finals.

LUGE

Austrian brothers take gold

ON THE TRACK: Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger won the gold medal in doubles luge, while the American team of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin crashed in their opening run to end any chances of winning a third Olympic medal.

The Lingers finished the two-run event in 1 minute, 34.497 seconds. Germany's Andre Florschuetz and Torsten Wustlich won the silver, 0.31 seconds back. Italy got its second luge medal of the Turin Games, with Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder winning bronze, 0.433 seconds off the winning time.

Grimmette and Martin - who are presumably in the Olympics for the final time - won the bronze medal at the 1998 Nagano Games and took the silver four years ago at Salt Lake City. They were trying to become the first Olympians to win bronze, then silver, then gold, in that order.

Instead, they capped a medal-free Olympics for the U.S. luge program. Preston Griffal and Dan Joye, the other American team in the doubles field, finished eighth.

"It's a shock," Martin said. "Any time you crash, it's a shock."

QUICK HITS: Ukraine's Roman Yazvinskyy suffered a head injury when his sled hit a wall and flipped.

UP NEXT: Luge competition is complete.

CURLING

U.S. women end skid

ON THE ICE: The U.S. women's team beat Denmark 8-3 and avoided a fourth consecutive loss.

"Coming off those three losses, it's nice to have a win," said Cassie Johnson, the U.S. skip.

The Americans will probably need to win four - if not all - of the next five games to have a chance at the medal round. They are in last place in the round-robin; Norway is first at 3-1 with Canada, Britain, Sweden and Switzerland tied at 2-1.

In men's play, Italy shocked the United States, earning a 6-5 victory. Italy is not a traditional curling power and is only in the tournament as host country.

But the Italians took an early 2-0 lead and broke a tie at 4 with a point in the eighth end. They stole a point in the ninth despite having to give up the big advantage that comes with being last to throw.

QUICK HITS: Canada won 9-5 in nine ends to hand the British men their first loss of the tournament.

UP NEXT FOR U.S.: Today, men and women vs. Sweden.

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