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Speed skating gold goes to Dutch for a change

ALBERTVILLE, France -- Dutch speed skater Bart Veldkamp turned the tables on the powerful Norwegian distance skaters to win the 10,000-meter race yesterday.

Veldkamp clocked 14 minutes, 12.12 seconds to beat Norwegian world record-holder Johann-Olav Koss by almost three seconds, sparking noisy celebrations among the army of orange-clad Dutch fans.

Dutch supporters in the crowd threw him a bouquet of flowers and a national flag, which he carried around the arena.

"I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. . . . This is very important for me but also for skating in the Netherlands as a whole," he said.

Norwegian Geir Karlstad took the bronze.

Norway had dominated the distance events here, with Karlstad winning the 5,000 meters and Koss following up with gold in the 1,500 meters.

Veldkamp's gold was the first in men's speed skating for the Netherlands since 1976, when Piet Kleine won over the same distance.

Brian Wanek of Milwaukee was the best American skater. He finished 22nd, two spots better than Mark Greenwald of Park Ridge, Ill., who was three ahead of Jeff Klaiber of Evanston, Ill.


Poland beats Italy, 4-1, in battle to avoid cellar

MERIBEL, France -- Poland, outscored 37-6 in losing all six of its previous games, beat Italy, 4-1, and finished 11th in the 12-team Olympic hockey tournament. Italy, coached by Gene Ubriaco, came in last.

Both teams were 1-6.

And in the other consolation-round game, Germany won for the third time in four games, beating France, 5-4.

Tomorrow, Germany plays a game that will determine the fifth-place team, and France plays for seventh.

Italy began the tournament as the eighth seed and beat Poland, the 12th seed, 7-1, in preliminary-round play.

But yesterday Poland scored three times in the first nine minutes against goalie David Delfino and never was threatened. The scorers were Janusz Adamiec, Miroslaw Tomasik and Mariusz Puzio.

Gerd Truntschka gave Germany (3-4) a 2-0 lead with his second goal at 7:36 of the second period. France (2-5) never led despite three goals by Christophe Ville.

After losing their first three games, the Germans beat Italy and Poland to qualify for the medal round. In their opening playoff game, they tied Canada 3-3 after a scoreless overtime, but lost a shootout 3-2.


Germany's Kirchner denied gold-medal sweep

LES SAISIES, France -- Evgeni Redkine, a new face in the biathlon world, surprised everyone but the veteran he beat in the 20-kilometer race.

The 22-year-old Siberian was a last-minute addition to the Unified Team and a last-minute starter for the 20-kilometer. "The coaches felt younger blood should join the team," he said.

The gamble paid off as Redkine shot clean in his Olympic debut and skied to a 6.4-second victory over Germany's Mark Kirchner, who was trying to sweep all three biathlon events.

Kirchner had a costly miss at the last shooting station.

"When he [Kirchner] missed . . . I looked at the board, saw his time and then I realized that it was possible for me to win the gold," Redkine said. "I was surprised, but very happy of course."

Mikael Lofgren of Sweden missed two shots and finished 25 seconds behind for his second bronze medal. Sweden was third in Sunday's biathlon relay.

Josh Thompson of Gunnison, Colo., finished 16th in a field of 92, just two spots from the best performance ever by an American in an Olympic biathlon race.


Austrian Eggar clocks fastest qualifying time

LES ARCS, France -- Austrian Harald Eggar surprised French world record-holder Michael Prufer to post the fastest qualifying run as the Winter Olympics took its first look at speed skiing.

A demonstration event at these Games, with no official medals presented, speed skiing involves racers being timed over the length of a distance about the size of a football field just as they reach their maximum speed down a 77-degree slope.

Their top speed is recorded.

Eggar's second run was timed at 127.70 mph. Prufer, whose world record is 139.03 mph, had the second fastest at 126.63.

Another Austrian, Franz Weber, was third fastest of the 45 starters with 126.47, and American Dale Womack, from Vail, Colo., was fourth at 126.33.

Three other Americans will advance to today's semifinal round: John Mueller, of Breckenridge, Colo., who clocked 125.135, Jeff Hamilton, Truckee, Calif., at 125.13, and Jim Morgan, Olympic Valley, Calif., at 124.09.

In the women's event, World Cup champion Tarja Mulari of Finland was the fastest qualifier at 124.43. She was followed by Jacqueline Blanc of France at 121.79. The leading American was Melissa Dimino-Simons, of Olympic Valley, at 120.74.

The event had an unfortunate start when the first skier, Switzerland's Valerie Gomez, fell during the 100-meter stretch but suffered nothing worse than friction burns.

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