Following Canadian Women to
Salt Lake City

CBC Online
February 14, 2002

Cat wins Canada's first gold

Catriona Le 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 finish line.

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 Oval.

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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