Canada humbles Swiss as Lindros takes stage

February 11, 1992

LES SAISIES, FRANCE — MERIBEL, France -- Eric Lindros, the strapping sensation who withheld his superior skills from the NHL, flashed them at the Winter Olympics with two goals and an assist, sparking Canada to a 6-1 win over Switzerland yesterday.

"I just go play whether I'm under a microscope or not," Lindros said. "It's all the same."

Joe Juneau got two goals and two assists as Canada, 2-0, stayed in a three-way tie with the Unified Team and Czechoslovakia for first place in their six-team group. Switzerland, France and Norway are 0-2.

L Four teams from each of the two groups make the medal round.

The Unified Team, formerly the Soviet Union, notched its second straight 8-1 rout, beating Norway.

France mounted another spirited showing before its home crowd, threw a scare into another favorite -- and lost again. The French were beaten by sixth-seeded Czechoslovakia, 6-4, two days after a 3-2 loss to second-seeded Canada.

Lindros, held scoreless in that game, burst out against Switzerland, showing the talents that convinced Quebec to make him the first pick in last year's NHL draft.

"The big question is how do you stop a Gretzky, a Lemieux, a Lindros? It's very difficult," Canada assistant coach Wayne Fleming said. "When Eric stepped on the ice for the first shift that was probably the turning point. He took over the game."

Lindros stationed his 6-foot-4 frame at the right post and tipped in Juneau's 40-foot shot 3 minutes, 18 seconds into the game. Juneau got a power-play goal at 4:06 of the second period.

Then Lindros took a pass up the left side and skated in alone on Renato Tosio. Lindros faked Tosio to the right and put a 10-footer to the goalie's left.

Lindros' pass across the slot set up Wally Schreiber's goal at 7:44, and Juneau made the score 5-0 at 15:43. Jorg Eberle ruined Sean Burke's shutout 49 seconds into the third period, and Gordon Hynes got Canada's last goal at 18:19.

The third-seeded Unified Team had few problems beating 10th-seeded Norway. It held a 55-11 shooting advantage two days after outshooting Switzerland, 40-19.

The Unified Team still must play Czechoslovakia and Canada, the toughest opponents in its group.

Hockey is on the rise in France, which finished 11th in the 1988 Olympics. It led Czechoslovakia by 2-0 after one period yesterday.

"I can't be disappointed," French coach Kjell Larsson said. "We were close, maybe not to win but to play even against one of the best teams in the world."

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

Norway ends drought, sweeps medals in 30K

It took nine Olympics and 36 years, but Norway's skiers notched a long-awaited victory in the men's 30-kilometer cross country ski race -- and they did it with a vengeance.

Teammates Vegard Ulvang, Bjorn Daehlie and Terje Langli made it a medal sweep.

"It was about time! This is a great day for Norway," said Ulvang. "We never had any luck in the 30K in past Olympics. And now, winning all three medals is just fantastic."

Norway's failure in 30K races was not limited to the Olympics. The country has come up short in every world championship since the first 30K was held there in 1954.

Ulvang, whose winning time was 1 hour, 22 minutes, 27.8 seconds, said his strong finish in the last 10 kilometers decided the race.

"It's a long race," said the skier known as Vegard the Viking. "It's a long battle. You have to have ice in your stomach at this altitude [1,600 meters] and save your strength for the end."

Luke Bodensteiner of West Bend, Wis., placed 27th among 82 finishers, 6:17.9 behind Ulvang, for the best U.S. finish.

COMBINED DOWNHILL

Switzerland's Accola in good position to win

VAL D'ISERE, France

Paul Accola, the World Cup leader from Switzerland, took a breakneck ride down the face of Bellevarde to the brink of Olympic gold in the men's Alpine combined.

Two of his fiercest rivals, Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg and Guenther Mader of Austria, crashed on the treacherous, twisting course, so a fifth place in yesterday's downhill portion was enough to make Accola the favorite for the combined medal going into today's slalom.

"With Mader and Girardelli out, I seem to have a good chance," said Accola, who has won all three combined events on the World Cup tour this season. "But I don't want to make any predictions. There will be others to beat."

AJ Kitt of Rochester, N.Y., who finished ninth in the downhill, was in 10th place. Not a particularly good slalom skier, Kitt would have to pull a real upset to win a medal.

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