The Winter’s Tale


OPENING: U.S. Alpine Team Brings High Hopes

The 20th Winter Olympics open with great expectations for the U.S. Alpine team, targeting a total of eight medals with stars Bode Miller and Lindsey Kildow ready to lead the way. A new scoring system will make its Olympic debut in figure skating, in hopes of eliminating the controversies that have long affected the sport. At the opening ceremony, Italian cross-country skier Stefania Belmondo, a five-time Olympian, is the final torch-bearer. Athletes from 80 nations parade into Olympic Stadium on the eve of 16 days of competition.

DAY 2: One Down, Hedrick Wants Four More

Chad Hedrick, an inline skater turned speedskater only four years ago, begins his quest to match Eric Heiden’s record of five gold medals won in one Winter Olympics by winning the men’s 5,000 meters in convincing fashion. It was the first gold medal of the Games for the U.S. team. Figure skater Michelle Kwan has a rough practice session, including a fall while attempting a triple jump, leading to speculation that she will withdraw from the Games. The U.S. women’s hockey team routs Switzerland, 6-0, in its opener.

DAY 3: Injury Forces Kwan to Leave Games

Michelle Kwan, who made the women’s figure skating team through an injury petition, withdraws from the Games because of a strained groin. “I didn’t think in my heart that I could be at my best,” she says. Kwan is replaced by Emily Hughes. Snowboarders Shaun White and Danny Kass of the U.S. finish 1-2 in the men’s halfpipe, a preview of the success the Americans would have in snowboard competition. French skier Antoine Deneriaz is the surprise winner of the men’s downhill. American Bode Miller finishes fifth, Daron Rahlves 10th.


DAY 4: Women Add to U.S. Snowboard Success

Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler finish first and second in the women’s halfpipe, the second consecutive big day for Americans in the event. U.S. speedskater Joey Cheek wins the 500-meter race and donates his $25,000 bonus to charity. Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia win gold in pairs figure skating; there’s more success ahead for Russian skaters. Downhill skier Lindsey Kildow foreshadows the problems the U.S. Alpine team will endure in these Games when she is injured in a crash during a training run. She competes in the Games, but in pain.

DAY 5: Ligety Hits, Miller Misses in Combined

Ted Ligety of the U.S., who had never won a World Cup race, wins gold in the men’s combined. Bode Miller is disqualified after missing a gate in his first slalom run. Evgeni Plushenko of Russia takes a commanding 10-point lead over American Johnny Weir after the short program in the men’s figure skating competition. German athletes sweep the medals in women’s singles luge, with American Courtney Zablocki fourth, the best finish ever by an American woman in the event. It takes five goals in the third period, but the U.S. beats Finland, 7-3, in women’s hockey. Is this team vulnerable?

DAY 6: Dorfmeister Wins Her First Gold Medal

Veteran skier Michaela Dorfmeister of the powerful Austrian Alpine team wins her first Olympic gold medal in the women’s downhill. Lindsey Kildow of the U.S., injured in a training crash two days before, finishes eighth despite a painful back. Toby Dawson of the U.S. wins the bronze in men’s moguls; Dale Begg-Smith of Australia wins gold. In its first game, the U.S. men’s hockey team previews what’s to come with a disappointing 3-3 tie against Latvia. A groin injury sidelines goalie Dominik Hasek of the Czech Republic for the rest of the Games.

DAY 7: Plushenko Skates to Gold; Weir Stumbles

Evgeni Plushenko easily wins gold in men’s figure skating, the Russians’ second gold in the sport. Johnny Weir of the U.S. has a mistake-filled, tentative long program and finishes fifth. Afterward, Weir says his “biorhythms were off.” Seth Wescott wins gold in the first men’s Olympic snowboard cross competition. The U.S. men’s hockey team defeats Kazakhstan, 4-1. Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva tests positive for a banned stimulant and is stripped of her silver medal in the 15-kilometer event, the first athlete to test positive at these Games.

DAY 8: One Fall on the Ice, Another on the Snow

The United States women’s hockey team, which had never lost to a country other than Canada since the program was established in 1990, is upset by Sweden, 3-2, in a shootout in a semifinal game. Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S., with a large lead, falls after a jump near the end of the women’s snowboard cross and has to settle for a silver. Some say she was showboating with a freestyle trick, which she at first denies then partially acknowledges when she says she was trying to have some fun. American figure skater Emily Hughes, replacing injured Michelle Kwan, arrives in Turin.

DAY 9: Davis Powers Way to Historic Moment

American speedskater Shani Davis becomes the first black athlete to earn individual gold at a Winter Olympics when he wins the men’s 1,000 meters. Teammate Joey Cheek finishes second. Davis had drawn criticism earlier in the week when he sat out the team pursuit event to focus on the individual races. Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway wins the men’s super-giant slalom; Janica Kostelic of Croatia wins gold in the women’s combined. Italian authorities raid lodging of Austrian cross-country skiers and biathletes, conduct drug tests and confiscate drug paraphernalia.


DAY 10: U.S. Sinks Further in Men’s Hockey Pool

The U.S. men’s hockey team loses to Sweden, 2-1, and falls to 1-2-1 in pool play. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are second after the free skate portion of the ice dancing competition, which is almost as notable for the many falls by skaters as solid routines. Germany wins the two-man bobsled; Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands wins in women’s 1,000-meter speedskating. Suspended Austrian ski coach Walter Mayer, whose presence in Turin instigated the raid the night before, crashes into a roadblock after trying to flee authorities.

DAY 11: Belbin and Agosto Pick Up Slack for U.S.

Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto become the first Americans to win a medal in ice dancing since 1976 when they win the silver. It is the first U.S. figure skating medal of the Games. Roman Kostomarov and Tatiana Navka of Russia win the gold, the third gold in the sport for Russia. Benjamin Raich of Austria wins the gold medal in men’s giant slalom, and countryman Hermann Maier wins bronze, giving Austria nine medals in Alpine skiing events. The U.S. women’s hockey team defeats Finland, 4-0, to win the bronze medal; Canada beats Sweden, 4-1, for the gold.

DAY 12: As Davis and Hedrick Feud, Cohen Shines

American speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick continue their feud after the 1,500 meters, sniping at each other in the post-race news conference. Co-favorites in the race, they settle for silver (Davis) and bronze (Hedrick) as Enrico Fabris of Italy wins. Sasha Cohen performs a flawless short program to lead after the first night of women’s figure skating. Russia’s Irina Slutskaya is second. Kimmie Meissner of the U.S. is fifth, and Emily Hughes is eighth. The U.S. men’s hockey team continues its disappointing performance with a 5-4 loss to Russia.

DAY 13: U.S. Hockey Team Trips at Finnish Line

The U.S. men’s hockey team is eliminated after a 4-3 loss to Finland. The team finishes the Olympics with a 1-4-1 record. The U.S. team comes out flat and never recovers, falling behind, 2-1, after one period and 4-2 after two periods. Sasha Cohen of Corona del Mar, leading in women’s figure skating after the short program, makes the controversial decision to pass up both practice sessions before the next day’s long program. The U.S. men’s curling team loses to Canada, 11-5, in a semifinal match. Anja Paerson of Sweden puts together a fast second run to win the women’s slalom.

DAY 14: Cohen Gets the Short but Not the Long of It

Sasha Cohen of Corona del Mar, who passed up practice the day before, falls twice during her long program and finishes second in women’s figure skating. Afterward, Cohen says she felt “apprehensive” on the ice. Shizuka Arakawa of Japan skates a solid program and wins gold, and Irina Slutskaya of Russia, the favorite before the competition, falls and finishes third. Snowboarder Rosey Fletcher of Girdwood, Alaska, racing with a small cardboard cutout given to her by a third grader, wins the bronze medal in women’s parallel giant slalom. Sweden wins gold in women’s curling.

DAY 15: Mancuso Saves Day for U.S. Ski Squad

Julia Mancuso wins the first, and only, medal for the U.S. women’s ski team by navigating a fog-clouded course faster than anyone else to win the gold in the giant slalom. U.S. speedskater Chad Hedrick wins the silver medal in the 10,000 meters, his third medal of the Games. At rinkside cheering him on during the race is Shani Davis. In a touching moment, Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic wins the women’s 30-kilometer cross-country ski race and is greeted at the finish line by her 2-year-old daughter, Lucie. The U.S. men win a bronze medal in curling.


DAY 16: Ohno Skates Off With a Last-Minute Haul

Short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno adds two medals to his collection, winning gold in the men’s 500 meters, then rallying the U.S. to a bronze in the 5,000-meter relay. Much-hyped skier Bode Miller fails to win a medal in men’s slalom, making him 0 for 5 at the Olympics. He does say that “I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level,” though. The Czech Republic beats Russia, 3-0, to win bronze in men’s hockey. U.S. bobsledder Todd Hays, who led the U.S. to its first bobsled medal at the 2002 Games, finishes seventh in the four-man event and announces his retirement.