‘94 WINTER OLYMPICS / LILLEHAMMER : NOTEBOOK : German Wins Gold in Women’s 5,000, but Not Niemann


German speedskater Gunda Niemann isn’t going home empty-handed from her last Olympics, but there won’t be any gold in her satchel.

The skater who was expected to dominate the women’s distance events here missed again Friday, tiring badly in the 5,000-meter event and finishing second to teammate Claudia Pechstein.

“Close, but I didn’t make it,” Niemann said. “Claudia was better today.”

Niemann finished the Games with the silver, a bronze in the 1,500 and a DNF in the 3,000, the race that started her problems here. She fell in that one, the first of the women’s five races.


Niemann won gold in the 3,000 and 5,000, and silver in the 1,500, in the Albertville Games two years ago.

In winning her first gold medal, Pechstein cut nearly 20 seconds off her personal best and finished in 7 minutes 14.37 seconds. Hiromi Yamamoto of Japan was third.


Russia won its third biathlon gold medal in the women’s 30-kilometer relay, taking advantage of two lapses on the rifle range by Simone Greiner-Petter-Memm, favored Germany’s third skier.

The Russians--Nadejda Talanova, Natalia Snytina, Louiza Noskova and Anfisa Reztsova--won in 1 hour 47 minutes 19.5 seconds, all four shooting perfect scores, which meant no penalty loops to ski. Biathlon combines target shooting with cross-country skiing.

Greiner-Petter-Memm missed three times shooting prone, then missed three more times from the standing position and had to ski a 150-meter penalty loop for each miss. Her team finished nearly four minutes behind the Russians in second place.

France, the defending Olympic champion, took the bronze and host Norway was fourth.

The U.S. team was a surprising eighth in the 17-team field, the best any American team or individual has done in Nordic events here. Competing for the U.S. were Beth Coats of Breckenridge, Colo.; Joan Smith of Honeoye Falls, N.Y.; Laura Tavares of Lake Placid, N.Y., and Joan Guetschow of Minnetonka, Minn.



Espen the Eagle? Norwegian ski jumper Espen Bredesen didn’t take kindly to that nickname at Albertville two years ago, when he was struggling with a change in jumping styles, and he still doesn’t like it as an Olympic gold- and silver-medal winner.

“It was meant a little different when they said it in Albertville,” he said.

And indeed it was. It was a none-too-flattering comparison of Bredesen to England’s Michael (Eddie the Eagle) Edwards, the semi-blind Englishman who as a ski jumper at Calgary in 1988 was a pretty good house painter.

“I don’t like it any better now,” Bredesen said after winning the 90-meter hill championship. “I don’t think I should be compared to Eddie the Eagle.”


Speedskater Dan Jansen, who ended years of Olympic frustration when he won the men’s 1,000 meters Feb. 18, will carry the flag for the U.S. team Sunday at the closing ceremony.

“It’s an honor because it seems very appropriate to end my Olympic career with something like this,” Jansen said. “It’s a different honor than winning a medal, because it’s something that’s been voted on by my teammates. I’ve enjoyed these Games more than any of the others and this is a fitting way to end it.”


Norway’s medal outburst Friday--three in Alpine combined skiing and two in ski jumping, moved the host country into the overall lead, where it figures to remain.


Norway has 25 medals, Russia 22. Norway, however, has medal prospects in Sunday’s men’s slalom and today’s 50k men’s cross-country ski race. Russia has medal prospects in hockey and the men’s biathlon relay.