Chad Hedrick's much-hyped bid for a record-matching collection of speedskating gold medals ended in an unlikely loss to the Italians, while Michaela Dorfmeister's eight-year quest for an elusive gold medal had a happier ending, and gave Austria its first women's downhill gold medal since 1980.
Australia got it's third ever gold medal at a Winter Olympics when Canadian-born Dale Begg-Smith conquered the moguls.
For Dorfmeister, her victory on Wednesday on the bumpy Fraitieve Olympique course will allow her to retire on a high note.
She was second in the super-G at Nagano in 1998 -- just one one-hundredth of a second behind the US' Picabo Street.
"That elusive medal was probably the thing that kept me skiing," Dorfmeister said. "I didn't sleep for two nights because I kept thinking about it."
Dorfmeister navigated the course in 1 minute, 56.49 seconds. Martina Schild of Switzerland took silver after finishing 0.37 seconds behind.
Despite Austria's dominance in ski racing, the reigning World Cup downhill champion was the first woman from her country to win the Olympic downhill since Annemarie Moser-Proell at the 1980 Lake Placid Games.
Australia's Begg-Smith dominated the moguls from the start.
He qualified in first place in the afternoon and started last in the final run under the lights at Sauze d'Oulx. In the medal run, he was slower down the bumpy track than second-placed Finland's Mikko Ronkainen but earned more points for his technique and jumps. American Toby Dawson took the bronze.
Begg-Smith, who was born in Vancouver, claimed Australia's third gold medal at a Winter Games -- speedskater Steven Bradbury and aerials skier Alisa Camplin both won at Salt Lake City four years ago.
On the speedskating track, Hedrick's hope of matching Eric Heiden's record five gold medals in a Winter Olympics ended when the Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals of team pursuit.
Hedrick, KC Boutiette and Charles Ryan Leveille lost to the Italian team of Matteo Anesi, Stefano Donagrandi and Enrico Fabris by nearly a half-second after leading through the first four laps.
Leveille and Hedrick were first across the finish line, but Boutiette lagged about 3m behind. The Italians crossed together, giving them the surprising victory on home ice.
Hedrick, who won the 5,000m, was clearly frustrated, smacking his hands together on the cooldown lap and yelling in disgust.
"Of course, he's upset," said Bart Schouten, Hedrick's coach, "but he couldn't blame anybody and didn't want to blame anybody. When he loses, he blames himself."
Four quarterfinal winners advanced to yesterday's semifinals, with the top two teams skating later in the evening for gold. The semifinal losers compete for bronze.
Wang Meng claimed China's first gold medal of the games when she won the women's 500m short track speedskating final in 44.345 seconds. Bulgaria's Evgenia Radanova won silver and Canada's Anouk Leblanc-Boucher was third.
In men's double luge, Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger won a race marred by three crashes. The Linger brothers finished the two-run event in 1 minute, 34.497 seconds. Germany's Andre Florschuetz and Torsten Wustlich 0.31 seconds back. Italy got its second luge medal of the Turin Games, with Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder winning bronze.
Defending champion Canada got its men's hockey campaign off to a predictable winning start, beating host Italy 7-2 with team general manager Wayne Gretzky looking on nervously from a private box high in the stands.