Work in Sports
Bonaly's backflip earns Goodwill gold
Posted: Sunday February 20, 2000 11:09 PM
LAKE PLACID, New York (AP) -- Surya Bonaly flipped. So did the judges.
The five-time European champion from France took the figure skating gold medal Saturday night in the Winter Goodwill Games, barely beating Yuka Sato of Japan.
Bonaly, who performed her signature backflip for the second time in the competition and added two triple jumps, finished with a score of 197.3 and got one perfect 10 for artistry.
Sato, tied for the lead with Bonaly entering the evening, fell coming out of a triple jump in her routine and finished at 197.2.
Oksana Baiul, third coming in, fell just seconds after her music stopped. The Ukrainian star, who beat Nancy Kerrigan for the gold in Lillehammer six years ago, dropped to fourth behind Kerrigan, who hit three triple jumps in a flawless routine.
Ageless Dorothy Hamill, who hadn't skated competitively since her 1976 victory in Innsbruck, was just behind Baiul in fifth. Katarina Witt of Germany was sixth.
As usual, figure skating piqued the most interest, attracting a sellout of more than 7,000 at the Olympic Ice Arena.
And the competition was unique, with names from the past dusting off jumps they hadn't performed in the years since they turned professional. Witt, a two-time Olympic champion, said it didn't matter who won, and it really didn't.
In a replay of their finish in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, Brian Boitano of the United States won gold, Brian Orser of Canada took silver, and Russia's Victor Petrenko got the bronze.
Boitano, in first place coming in, hit a triple toe loop, a double toe loop and a double loop in succession and had one 10 to finish with a score of 197.4.
"I worked really hard to get prepared for this," Boitano said. "I didn't make a mistake, but I felt pressure both nights. Skating last you just stew. You know what's happening, and it's hard waiting."
Petrenko may not have won, but his performance was memorable. Skating with a doll strapped to his neck and feet, he elicited waves of laughter as he moved to the Latino beat of Mambo No. 5, nailing a triple toe loop and double axel.
"It's really difficult to do the jumps with the doll," said Petrenko, who had no name for his inert partner. "When I first tried it in practice, I fell very hard."
France's Philippe Candeloro, who fell in the first five seconds of his tiring six-minute routine, was fourth and Alexei Urmanov of Russia was fifth. Rudy Galindo, who was last after the technical program Thursday, withdrew from the men's singles because of illness.
In dance, Americans Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow of the United States took gold. The pair, who scored two perfect 10's in the technical portion Thursday night, received four more Saturday for a total of 197.9.
Taking silver at 197.3 were Maya Usova and Evgeny Platov of Russia, followed by the Russian team of Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko and Finland's Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko.
Before Punsalan and Swallow performed, they had to watch as their closest competitors scored a pair of 10's.
"It's always hard to see a perfect score before you go out," Punsalan said. "But we were skating more for the audience and ourselves."
Earlier in the day in women's skeleton, Royal Air Force intelligence officer Alex Hamilton won gold. The 26-year-old Hamilton, who won the World Cup title this year, finished the four runs on her steel sled in 4 minutes, 11.22 seconds, a little more than a second ahead of Maya Bieri of Switzerland.
Michelle Kelly of Canada won bronze, edging Lee Ann Parsley of the United States in a race that featured the top four women in the world.
"I had hoped to do well," said the Belgian-born Hamilton, who was recruited for the British team only in 1997. "But the competition wasn't taken for granted. We had a good race."
Kari Traa had a good race, too. The Norwegian freestyle skiing star edged defending World Cup moguls champion Ann Battelle of the United States for the gold in the women's moguls at Whiteface Mountain in what has become a budding rivalry.
"I was just thinking, go for it," said Traa, whose stunning double twister spread propelled her to victory.
Janne Lahtela of Finland won the men's moguls over Jean-Luc Brassard of Canada. Ryan Riley of the United States took bronze.
Over on another slope of the mountain, Ian Price and Christopher Klug gave the United States gold and bronze in the men's snowboarding Super G race. Alexander Maier of Austria, younger brother of skiing star Hermann Maier, took silver, but it wasn't so simple, really. Never is with that name.
"Sometimes it's not easy for me," Maier said. "When they say, 'Now comes Alex, the brother of Hermann Maier,' there is much pressure. Everyone thinks that you also must make a good place."
In the Nordic combined, Felix Gottwald of Austria came from behind in the final sprint to edge teammate Mario Stecher. Stecher, who won the jumping portion of the event, lost the seven-second lead he had over Gottwald entering the sprint. Todd Lodwick of the United States took the bronze after blowing his lead on the last uphill climb.
One day after NASCAR driver Geoffrey Bodine was involved in a horrific crash at Daytona, Brian Shimer drove his USA-1 bobsled into medal contention after two runs in the two-man at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Shimer was third behind the leading sled of Sandis Prusis of Latvia and the Germany-1 sled of Andre Lange.
Bodine, who was listed in serious condition at a Florida hospital with a concussion, three broken bones and some burns, has been a big supporter of the U.S. team and helped develop the sleds the team uses.
"The Bo-Dyn sled is flying," Shimer said, his voice breaking with the emotion of the moment. "I'd like to wish Geoff a speedy recovery. He's here with us this weekend. Geoff, this one's for you."
Not long after the heat, tragedy struck at nearby Wright's Peak. Six back-country skiers were trapped at midday by a sudden snowslide. State police said five were rescued and evacuated by helicopter, but the sixth, 27-year-old Toma Jacob Vracarich of Lake Placid, was found dead just after nightfall.
Troopers said the five survivors were also from the region.
In men's skeleton, local favorite Jim Shea had a comfortable lead of more than a second over Snorre Pedersen of Norway and Chris Soule of the United States after two runs.
Shea, whose grandfather won two speedskating gold medals at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, did not expect to have a restful night.
"During the World Championships I was a little bit ahead," said Shea, who won that race. "But in the blink of an eye it could all change. It's nowhere near over."
In the middle of it all, Ted Turner announced that the 2005 Winter Goodwill Games would be staged in Calgary, which at the time will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the confederation of the province of Alberta.
A host city for 2003 still had not been determined. Sarajevo, site of the 1984 Winter Olympics but since devastated by war, and Salt Lake were possibilities, Turner said. He would not elaborate.