Jansen gets last sprint for a medal LILLEHAMMER 94

February 18, 1994|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Writer

HAMAR, Norway -- Today, Dan Jansen ends his Olympic speed skating career.

In four Winter Games, he is still without a medal, but he is not without heart.

But will the greatest sprinter in the history of his sport leave another Olympics empty-handed?

Jansen, for one, does not know.

At practice yesterday, he was nursing a head cold, telling his coaches, "I feel fine."

But the 1,000 meters -- the distance of Jansen's final race -- does not entirely suit Jansen's normally fiery, go-for-broke style.

He finished 26th in the event at the 1992 Winter Games of Albertville, after a fourth-place finish in the 500.

At last month's Sprint World Championships in Calgary, Alberta, he won the overall title and set a world record in the 500, but he finished fourth in the 1,000.

Yesterday, Jansen still was mystified by his slip on the final turn Tuesday that cost him a medal in the 500, in which he placed eighth.

"I don't know what happened," he said.

He will be the crowd favorite today, even though Igor Zhelezovski of Belarus and Yukinori Miyabe of Japan are the race favorites.

The Norwegian fans have been fascinated with Jansen's story of Olympic heartbreak. But they also have seen Jansen at his best when he became the first to skate under 36 seconds in the 500 at the Olympic rink last December.

For the American men's program, which hasn't won an Olympic medal since Eric Flaim's silver in 1988, a winless Jansen would be a major disappointment.

"If we come away with anything in Lillehammer, I think everyone is hoping that Danny wins a medal," said Bill Cushman, president of the U.S. Speed Skating Association.

And skater Michelle Kline said a Jansen medal would lift the spirits of the U.S. team, including women's gold-medal favorite Bonnie Blair.

"I know that it was difficult for Bonnie to watch Dan in the 500," Kline said.

Today, the team will gather to watch Jansen race one last time at the Olympics.

Kline said: "We're hoping he wins."

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