ALVERTVILLE, FRANCEMERIBEL, FRANCE — ALBERTVILLE, France -- A gold medal completed Jacqueline Boerner's amazing comeback. A year and a half after nearly dying in a road accident, she's a Winter Olympics champion.
Boerner won the women's 1,500-meter speed skating gold yesterday, sweeping to glory on legs so battered in the crash that she spent eight months in German hospitals and rehabilitation centers and had to learn to walk again.
She beat out teammate Gunda Niemann for the gold medal, setting the pace in the first pair with a time of 2 minutes, 5.87 seconds. Only Niemann came close to matching her, winning the silver in 2:05.92. Seiko Hashimoto won the 1,500 bronze medal, a first for the Japanese.
Boerner, then a newly crowned world champion, and most of the East German speed skating team were cycling along a road in August 1990 when a car burst into their pack.
"The last thing I remember I'm standing along the road and [the car] is heading right for me," she said. "I don't really know what happened after that. The lawyers are still quibbling about that."
She woke up in a hospital a few hours later with a serious head injury, a broken left foot, a severely damaged left knee and a very uncertain athletic future. She wouldn't get out of the hospital for four more months, a rehabilitation center until last March. Her left leg had to be rebuilt and strengthened. Two badly torn knee ligaments had to be rebuilt. Before she could skate again, she had to learn to walk again.
She originally planned to retire. She changed her mind. "I've always been ambitious. I just decided I'd have another go at it."
Kronberger regains confidence; American Schmidinger is 2nd
MERIBEL, France -- Petra Kronberger of Austria, speeding past the confidence problems that have dogged her for a month, won the downhill portion of the combined and became the prohibitive favorite for the first women's Alpine gold medal of the Winter Olympics.
Krista Schmidinger of Lee, Mass., produced the race of her life to finish second, .52 seconds behind Kronberger's winning time of 1 minute, 25.84 seconds.
"I was pretty psyched," Schmidinger said. "Obviously, I dreamt of doing well, but it's different when it's for real." COURCHEVEL, France -- Fabrice Guy gave France its expected gold yesterday in the Nordic combined, with Sylvain Guillaume giving the host country an unexpected silver.
France, long a powerhouse in Alpine skiing, won its first Olympic medals in Nordic skiing with a 1-2 sweep. Klaus Sulzenbacher of Austria took third.
The top American, Todd Wilson, finished more than 9 minutes behind.
Germany wins gold, silver to maintain dominance in event
LES SAISIES, France
LES SAISIES, France -- Mark Kirchner and Ricco Gross finished 1-2 in the men's 10-kilometer race for the unified German team, keeping up an Olympic tradition for their homeland. Harri Eloranta of Finland settled for the bronze.
A German, east or west, had won every men's individual biathlon Olympic title in 1984 and 1988 with the exception of 10K winner Eirik Kvalfoss of Norway, who took the 10K title in 1984.
Kirchner set a punishing pace from the start on the tough, high-altitude course and kept it up throughout the race.
He shot perfectly on both shooting ranges and finished in 26 minutes, 2.3 seconds.
5) American Josh Thompson finished 32nd.
Weinbrecht 2nd in qualifying; France's Grospiron leads men
TIGNES, France -- Two-time world champion Donna Weinbrecht of West Milford, N.J., was second in the women's qualifying, and Nelson Carmichael of Steamboat Spring, Colo., was fourth in the men's.
Leading qualifier in the men's division is world champion Frenchman Edgar Grospiron. Although his time of 31.80 was slower than Carmichael's, his style was superior.
Canada advances to medal play; France wins first to stay alive
MERIBEL, France -- Canada reached its first goal by scoring 10 goals. It became the first team to reach the Olympic hockey medal round by blasting 0bumbling Norway, 10-0, then set its sights on two tough opponents.
Canada (3-0) has beaten the three weakest teams in its pool -- France (1-2), Switzerland (0-3) and Norway (0-3). It plays Czechoslovakia and the Unified Team before medal play begins.
France enhanced its medal-round chances with a 4-3 victory over Switzerland, which barely stayed alive. France still must beat the Unified Team or Norway to get to the medal round.