wins Canada's first gold
May Doan is golden again. Le May
Doan, 31, skated to Olympic gold -- Canada's first in Salt
Lake City -- Thursday night with a time of 37.45, for a
combined two-race time of 74.75.
"Happy Valentine's, Bart!" exulted
commentator Steve Armitage, in reference to Le May Doan's
husband Bart Doan, who cheered from the sidelines in his
trademark black Stetson hat as his wife blazed across the
Tonight's win makes Le May Doan the first
Canadian to win back-to-back gold medals in the same event.
Le May Doan was paired with Germany's Monique
Garbrecht-Enfeldt, who took silver with a time of 37.60,
for a combined time of 74.94. In Wednesday's race, Garbrecht-Enfeldt
finished in 37.34, only 0.04 seconds behind Le May Doan.
Sabine Voelker, also of Germany, picked up
the bronze in 37.57 for a combined two-day time of 75.19.
Touted as one of Le May Doan's most dangerous rivals, her
time on Wednesday was 37.62. This is the first Olympic medal
for Voelker, whose last three Games have been dogged by
illness and injury.
Le May Doan and Garbrecht-Enfeldt were last
on the roster in a competition filled with nail-biting false
starts and constant jockeying for domination.
American Chris Witty, 26, briefly held first
place with a combined time of 76.73. Witty won a silver
medal in the 1,000m and bronze in 1,500m at the 1998 Nagano
Games. She is a former world-record holder in the 1,000m,
and finished first in both the 500m and the 1500m at the
2001 U.S. speed skating trials.
She was then eclipsed by Dutch skater Marianne
Timmer of the Netherlands, who typically excels at the longer
distances. Timmer skated against Japan's Yukari Watanabe
and clocked 76.17 to Watanabe's 76.20.
On Wednesday night, Le May Doan set a new
Olympic record in her first 500m outing at the Utah Olympic
Oval, clocking a blistering 37.30. It was the fourth-fastest
time of her career and just 0.08 seconds off her own world
record. Only minutes earlier, Japan's Tomomi Okazaki had
set a new standard of 37.77.
Le May Doan holds the world record of 37.22
in the 500m and came to Salt Lake having won having 17 of
her last 18 500m races. The 31-year-old, who now lives and
trains in Calgary, was undefeated in eight 500-metre races
this season. She has also smashed the 500-metre world record
eight times, most recently on Dec. 9 at the Calgary Olympic
Le May Doan won the 500m gold medal four years
ago in Nagano and finished third in the 1000m.
Canada's Susan Auch, skating in her fifth
Winter Olympics, finished 20th on Wednesday in 38.84, and
fell to 21st Thursday with a combined time of 77.60.
Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen, who won Canada's
first medal in the 3000m on Sunday, announced earlier Monday
that she would sit out the 500m competition in order to
conserve her energy for the longer distances, slated for
later this week.
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