Against All Odds
On mended knees, skier Janica Kostelic goes for more gold
For much of the winter, a question hounded Janica Kostelic of
Croatia across the World Cup ski circuit: Will you be ready for
the Olympics? She had undergone three surgeries on her left knee
since winning eight consecutive slalom races and the World Cup
overall title in 2001, and her rehab had left her with chronic
back problems. She arrived in Salt Lake ranked 17th in the
overall standings, without a single victory in her 14 races. The
question became more insistent: Are you ready?
On Thursday at Snowbasin, Kostelic, 20, shocked the ski world
with a daring downhill run on her scarred legs (her right knee
was also reconstructed in 1999) to win the Alpine combined. She
had led by more than a second after two slalom runs, but her
downhill training runs had been tentative, and it was assumed
that she would fall apart. Instead, she was brilliant. Now the
question for her has become: How many golds can you win?
She is a dark horse in today's Super G, the shorter,
turn-filled, high-speed sister to the downhill. She has scored
World Cup points in just two Super G races this season but
finished fourth in Cortina, Italy, on Jan. 25. A medal today
would launch her into this week's giant slalom and slalom--her
best events--with a chance to become the first female Alpine
skier to win four medals in one Games.
Growing up, Kostelic and her older brother, Ivica, were coached
by their father, Ante (they still are), and traipsed across
Europe chasing ski races, often sleeping in their car. Janica
has so tired of retelling this story that after her combined
win, she said simply, "I was nine when I started skiing for
serious. I was skiing and skiing and skiing, then I came here
and won a gold medal. That is the short story."
The sacrifice has paid off. Janica competed in five events in
Nagano and her eighth-place finish in the combined was the best
ever by a Croatian in the Winter Games. Three years later she
became the fourth youngest woman to win the World Cup overall.
Her brother, blooming later, leads the World Cup slalom
standings. Janica remains battered. "I just say that my right
arm is O.K., and my hair feels good," she says. That might be
enough to make history.
Bringing Up Baby
A few of her Olympic teammates may have been sidelined with the
flu on Thursday, but Jenny Potter's concerns were for the health
of a far more valuable player: her 13-month-old daughter,
Madison. "She's not feeling very good right now," said Potter,
her sweat-slicked brow furrowed with worry 20 minutes after the
U.S. hockey team's 12-1 win over China. "I think she has a cold."
In Nagano, Potter (then Schmidgall) was a 19-year-old baby on
the U.S. women's gold medal team. In Salt Lake, Potter is the
player with the baby. Her world turned upside down in the summer
of 2000, when she discovered she was pregnant. About to begin
her junior year at Minnesota-Duluth, where she had led the
nation in scoring as a sophomore, Jenny broke the news to her
then boyfriend, Rob, a trainer with the team. "It was
unexpected," says Jenny, "but we had talked about marriage
anyway. There was no way I was going to give her up."
Unwilling to give up her sport, either, Potter continued to play
through four months of pregnancy and rejoined the national team
for the world championships three months after giving birth.
Rob, whom she wed last July, helped her lose the weight she had
gained during pregnancy with hours of skating drills, during
which the Potters would place a bundled-up Madison in her bouncy
seat at center ice.
The U.S. team has been living and traveling together since last
August, and Potter regrets that the pre-Olympic push has caused
her to "miss out on so many little developments," but, she says,
one day Maddie will understand. "My dad made her tiny hockey
skates, and she's moving around a little," says Potter, who
leads the Olympic tournament with four assists after three
games. "I think she already loves the ice."
Where are they now?
Jim Craig HOCKEY
Gold medal goalie in 1980
When people ask what he did after the Lake Placid Olympics,
Craig knows a second question is probably not far behind. "What
did I do with the flag?" Craig says. "Especially with the recent
wave of patriotism in our country, everyone wants to know."
Before the days of rehearsed, contrived and sometimes
over-the-top flag dressing, Craig put a lump in the nation's
throat when, after the United States' final victory, he stood
draped in Old Glory as he scanned the stands and asked, "Where's
my father?" For years Craig assumed the flag he took home that
night from the dressing room and later gave to Pelle Lindbergh
(the Sweden goalie who has since died) was the flag he had worn
on the ice. Nearly 20 years later, however, an official with the
Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League said that he had
the real flag, then presented it to Craig and his family at the
1998 AHL All-Star Game in Syracuse. These days Craig, who was
injured for much of his unspectacular four-year NHL career,
serves as a market service consultant in Easton, Mass. He also
plays forward in a 40-and-over no-checking league. Craig and his
1980 teammates made a visit to the White House after the Games
but then went their separate ways. On Feb. 8, however, the
Miracle Men were reunited once again atop the south bleachers of
Rice-Eccles Stadium, igniting the Olympic cauldron to kick off a
new generation of Olympic dreams.
Q. What do pairs skaters do that ice dancers don't?
A. When you watch ice dancing, don't expect to see the man toss
the woman through the air. And forget about those dizzying
spins. Such pyrotechnics, the bread and butter of pairs skating,
are largely forbidden in ice dancing. Dancers can't be aloft for
more than one spin, lie on the ice, sit or lie on a partner's
shoulders or otherwise execute what the International Skating
Union calls any "feat of prowess." Nor may they sit on a
partner's leg without having a foot on the ice or spin for more
than three revolutions. Also, unlike skaters in singles and
pairs events, which consist of a short and a long program, ice
dancers compete in three sessions: compulsory dance (all the
same), original dance (set to a specific theme--this year a
Spanish medley) and free dance.
For the record
Yesterday's winners, notable results and a look at the overall
The Medal Stand
LEADERS [GOLD] [SILVER] [BRONZE] TOTAL
Germany 5 8 5 18
United States 3 7 6 16
Norway 7 5 0 12
Austria 1 3 8 12
Russia 4 4 2 10
France 2 3 1 6
Canada 2 0 3 5
Switzerland 3 0 1 4
The Netherlands 2 2 0 4
Finland 2 1 1 4
Italy 2 1 1 4
China 1 0 2 3
Bulgaria 0 1 2 3
Sweden 0 1 2 3
Spain 2 0 0 2
South Korea 1 1 0 2
Estonia 1 0 1 2
Japan 0 1 1 2
Poland 0 1 1 2
Australia 0 0 0 1
Croatia 1 0 0 1
Men's Super G
[GOLD] Kjetil Andre Aamodt NORWAY 1:21.58
[SILVER] Stephan Eberharter AUSTRIA 1:21.68
[BRONZE] Andreas Schifferer AUSTRIA 1:21.83
Men's 12.5-km Pursuit
[GOLD] Ole Einar Bjoerndalen NORWAY 32:34.6
[SILVER] Raphael Poiree FRANCE 33:17.6
[BRONZE] Ricco Gross GERMANY 33:30.6
Women's 10-km Pursuit
[GOLD] Olga Pyleva RUSSIA 31:07.7
[SILVER] Kati Wilhelm GERMANY 31:13.0
[BRONZE] Irina Nikoultchina BULGARIA 31:15.8
[GOLD] Gerard van Velde THE NETHERLANDS 1:07.18 (WR)
[SILVER] Jan Bos THE NETHERLANDS 1:07.53
[BRONZE] Joey Cheek UNITED STATES 1:07.61
SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING
[GOLD] Yang Yang (A) CHINA 44.187
[SILVER] Evgenia Radanova BULGARIA 44.252
[BRONZE] Chunlu Wang CHINA 44.272
[GOLD] Steven Bradbury AUSTRALIA 1:29.109
[SILVER] Apolo Ohno UNITED STATES 1:30.160
[BRONZE] Mathieu Turcotte CANADA 1:30.563
Christian Reich and Steve Anderhub have Switzerland-1 in the lead
after two runs. Todd Hays and USA-1 stand in fifth.
Natalie Darwitz contributed a hat trick in the U.S. women's 5-0
win over Finland. Darwitz leads the U.S. with six goals. Rival
Canada defeated Sweden 11-0.
The U.S. enters today's 4x5-km relay at Utah Olympic Park in
third behind Finland and Austria.
COLOR PHOTO: THOMAS KIENZLE/AP (KOSTELIC) She's hardly in the pink, but Kostelic has a shot at four medals.
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
COLOR PHOTO: JENS MEYER/AP Bjoerndalen, biathlon's bionic man, has three golds--so far.
COLOR PHOTO: ERIC SCHWEIKARDT (1980) In the net for the Miracle men of 1980 (above) Craig is now a 40-plus forward.
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN [See caption above]
They Said It
"I'm going to have to drink a lot of herbal tea to calm down."
--Australia's Alisa Camplin, after qualifying second in aerials