Loss in 1,500 should rekindle Blair's hunger, coach says

OLYMPIC NOTES

February 14, 1992

Today's 1,000-meter race allows American Bonnie Blair to return to one of her speed skating specialties. She is a sprinter, more attuned to the the shorter distances like the 500, where she delivered America's first gold medal Monday. In Wednesday's longer 1,500, she tired and struggled to finish 21st in the field of 32.

"She's not disappointed," said coach Peter Mueller. "She's real happy about Monday. She said, 'Let's go out there and have some fun,' but we knew it was not the best type of ice for her."

Mueller said it not only didn't hurt her, it might have helped.

"She didn't skate her best race," he said, "and now maybe she's hungry again."

One tough cookie

Michelle Kline's nickname on the U.S. speed skating team is She-Ra -- for an Amazon-like cartoon heroine. She's a power skater, very physical. But she's just happy to be alive, let alone skating here at the Winter Olympics.

Driving from Chicago to the training center in Milwaukee last June, distance skater Nate Mills crashed his new Jeep in front of an expressway toll booth and Kline was pinned against a light pole.

She lacerated her spleen, punctured a kidney, broke ribs on both sides and tore ligaments in her right shoulder. There's still some glass in one shoulder, she said, "and it tingles when the weather's bad."

Her first bits of exercise were walking up and down her driveway and floating on her back in the family pool. She missed a whole summer of dry-land training and didn't get back on the ice until September.

"But I never said, 'Why me? Why in an Olympic year?'"

"I just thought someone up there was testing me. Now I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. When I look down at that scar on my stomach, I think, 'Wow, I'm just so lucky to be here.' "

Safe bet

Franz Klammer, the Austrian star who won the 1976 Olympic downhill, knows his sport.

He was one of the few people to call the top three in order for this year's downhill -- Patrick Ortleib, Franck Piccard and Guenther Mader.

But he had sense enough to put some money on it and won 20,000 Austrian schillings -- about $2,000.

North and South

Bitter enemies for more than four decades, North and South Koreans are living apart at the Olympic village. They hope it's for the last time. Talks on forming a joint Olympic team are gaining speed.

"We Koreans hope to become one nation again, and that process begins with sports," says Gan Duk Chun, head of the North Korean delegation to the Winter Games. "A country united in sports will be a country reunified."

The two sides don't have much time. The International Olympic Committee set a deadline of March 20 for Seoul and Pyongyang to submit a proposal for a joint team.

The quote

"We can't let the media jump on us and make us into the '80 team. There's a long way to go yet." -- Clark Donatelli, a winger for the U.S. Olympic hockey team.

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