Michelle Kwan won't win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics this year.
The American figure skater dropped out of the Turin Games yesterday because of a groin injury, bringing her quest for that elusive Olympic gold to its most disappointing end yet.
In other events, eight gold medals were to be contested later yesterday, including in the men's downhill. Hermann Maier was one of the favorites in the marquee event, along with Americans Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller.
On Saturday, speedskater Chad Hedrick won one gold and vowed to win four more, while Germany earned two golds.
Hedrick flirted with world record pace for much of the grueling 12-and-one-half lap, 5,000m race.
And although he faltered briefly, his time of 6 minutes, 14.68 seconds was .02 seconds behind the Olympic record set at high altitude in Salt Lake City four years ago.
Michael Greis of Germany won the first gold medal of the Turin Games, beating favorite Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the biathlon. Bjoerndalen had been hoping to become the top gold medal winner in Winter Olympics' history.
Georg Hettich won Germany's second gold by dominating the 15km Nordic combined. His jumps of 101.5m and 104m on the normal hill gave him a cushion going into the 15km cross country race.
Jennifer Heil of Canada won the women's moguls.
Kwan cut short her first practice at the games on Saturday after aggravating the groin injury. Though she said she didn't want to drop out, the injury worsened as the day went on. After being evaluated early yesterday by Dr. Jim Moeller, she decided to withdraw.
"Taking myself off the team is the most difficult decision I've ever had to make," Kwan said in a statement, "but it's the right decision. This injury prevents me from skating my best, and I've said all along that if I couldn't skate to the level that I expected from myself I'd withdraw from the team.
"The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world and what's most important is that the United States fields the strongest team possible. As much as I'd love to represent the United States in Torino, I would never stand in the way of that."
The US Olympic Committee has asked to replace Kwan with Emily Hughes, the third-place finisher at last month's national championships. A response was expected later this week, and Hughes was to travel to Turin yesterday.
Kwan missed last month's US nationals with a groin injury, and needed a medical bye onto the Turin team. Moeller said yesterday he does not believe the current injury is related to the groin problem Kwan had during the national championships.
This was to be the last chance at an Olympic gold for the 25-year-old Kwan, the face of figure skating for the last decade. Though she won five world championships and nine US titles, she always came up short at the Olympics, winning a silver medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.
Japanese ski jumper Masahiko Harada was disqualified Saturday from the normal hill competition for having skis that were too long for his weight.
Harada, 37, had been selected for Japan's team for the normal hill competition Friday but was told before Saturday's qualifying round he had been disqualified.
Harada, a member of Japan's gold medal-winning team at the 1998 Nagano Games, would have been the oldest competitor in the field.
Harada said he weighed 200gm less than he should have.
"Of course, it was all my fault. I feel responsible," he said. "I came to Torino to participate in the normal hill, but I can't do it now."
He can still compete in the large hill and team events.
Two other jumpers were disqualified on Saturday for problems with their suits -- Nikolay Karpenko of Kazakhstan and Sigurd Pettersen of Norway.
Break out the soul patches. Everybody's favorite flowing-haired heartthrob from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics is back.
Apolo Anton Ohno renews his rivalry with the powerful South Koreans, who are still smarting over his disputed short track speedskating victory four years ago.
The sport's best-known face, thanks to the wisp of hair under his chin, Ohno will work to defend his title in the grueling 1,500m.
The American finished second in 2002, but won a gold when Kim Dong-sung was called for illegally blocking as Ohno tried to pass on the final turn.
While Kim picked up a South Korean flag and began celebrating, the head judge skated over with the results: gold for Ohno, disqualification for Kim.
No appeals are allowed in short track, but South Korean fans were quick to convey their opinions. Thousands of angry e-mails poured into the International Olympic Committee and the US Olympic Committee.
Ohno said the way the rivalry has been portrayed is "misguided."
"It's more like all of us versus everybody," he said.
This time, Ohno will have to contend with South Korean Ahn Hyun-soo, the world record-holder and reigning world champion. Ohno and Ahn split four World Cup races this season, each winning two.
Another South Korean, Lee Ho-suk, joins Ahn as a medal contender in his Olympic debut. Lee has never won a major 1,500 race, but he was never worse than third during World Cup competition.
The men's race is the highlight of the opening night of short track, expected to be one of the hottest tickets in Turin. A big part of the high-speed sport's appeal is the jostling and crashes.
Four years ago, Ohno and Ahn tangled in a famous crash in the 1,000m. China's Li Jiajun caught his skate on Ohno's while trying to pass and spun out. That sent Ohno sliding into Ahn, and both went down, wiping out Mathieu Turcotte of Canada.
That cleared the ice for Steven Bradbury to win Australia's first gold at a Winter Games. Ohno got up and crossed the finish line on his hands and knees for silver. Li was disqualified and Ahn finished fourth.
While the men race for medals Sunday, the women will skate in preliminaries of the 500m and 3,000m relay.
China's Wang Meng is the heavy favorite for gold in the 500m. She won all four World Cup races this season. Her heralded teammate, Yang Yang, is the defending champion, but isn't competing at the distance.
Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria, the 2002 silver medalist, is the world record-holder in the sprint event. She will enjoy home-ice advantage, having trained with the Italian team the last four years.
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