Tomba, Canadian hockey, U.S. sledders go quietly
Posted: Sat February 21, 1998 at 11:26 AM ET
NAGANO, Japan (CNN/SI) - An earthquake shook buildings in Nagano, but tremors of a different sort were felt Saturday at the Olympics.
Alberto Tomba, "La Bomba" to his legions of admirers throughout the world, bombed out in the men's slalom Saturday in his final chance at an Olympic medal.
It was a sad and strange ending for one of the Games' most colorful stars.
But Saturday, one day before the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Tomba was not alone in his failure.
The Canadian hockey team, one-time gold medal favorites stocked with players from the National Hockey League and featuring the greatest scorer of all time, will head home without a medal after losing to Finland 3-2 in the bronze medal game.
The United States, meanwhile, appeared virtually certain to end this Olympics the same as the last -- with 13 medals. Hopes for a country-best 14 winter medals were dashed when the U.S. four-man bobsled team finished two-hundredths of a second out of a bronze medal Saturday.
The final full day of competition saw orange-haired Hans-Petter Buraas of Norway ski his way through thick fog and stinging sleet to win the giant slalom, edging his country a bit closer to the 28 overall medals won by Germany.
The first run of the giant slalom was well under way when a moderate earthquake rattled Nagano and the surrounding mountains shortly before 10 a.m. The ground shook for about two seconds, rattling a temporary press room near the finish area, but the race went on without delay.
"It was really a strange feeling, but I don't want to use that as an excuse," said Austrian skier Mario Reiter, who felt the ground move just before he failed to complete his run.
Others didn't even notice.
"What earthquake?" asked Tara Lipinski, who won the women's figure skating gold only 11 hours earlier.
Buraas, whose Dennis Rodman-style hair has been shades of white, green and flaming orange-red this season, rallied on the second run to win in a total time of 1 minute, 49.31 seconds.
Norwegian teammate Ole Christian Furuseth won the silver medal in 1:50.64 and first-run leader Thomas Sykora of Austria dropped to third in 1:50.68. Sykora's bronze gave Austria eight of the 15 men's Alpine medals.
Tomba, a three-time gold medalist, shook his head in dismay after completing his first run of the giant slalom in 17th place and nearly two seconds out of the lead. He left the course and went to his hotel room, while he watched his fellow competitors in their second runs.
"He skied 20 gates before the race without feeling any pain. But he felt pain about midcourse in the first run, and even thought about stopping," said Alessia Tomba, the skier's sister and spokeswoman. "Between runs, things worsened and he decided not to start in the second."
With two medal events left before the closing ceremony, Germany led in total medals with 29 (12 gold, 9 silver, 8 bronze) to 24 for Norway (9-10-5). Russia was third with 17 (9-5-3). The United States (6-3-4) was in sixth place with 13 medals, but fourth in total gold medals.
Other highlights Saturday:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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