Many dissapointments for the Olympic team

By Larry McShane The Associated Press

TURIN, Italy – It was hardly a lost weekend for the U.S. Olympic team. The good news was just hard to find among all the disappointments.

Gold medals for speedskater Chad Hedrick and snowboarder Shaun White were nearly lost in a flurry of Winter Games woes that spread from sport to sport, and star to star. Big names fell short – or got no chance at all.

Skater Michele Kwan was shut down by a badly injured groin muscle without ever stepping on the ice. Goodbye to the team’s (and television’s) most familiar Olympic face, tear-streaked by the turn of events.

Skiers Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves were shut out in the downhill, where longshot Frenchman Antoine Deneriaz won the gold.

Short track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno skidded into fourth place in a semifinal heat, missing a chance to defend his gold medal in the 1,500 meters.

Luger Tony Benshoof, on the verge of winning the first-ever singles luge medal for the U.S., slipped into fourth place yesterday – missing a bronze by 0.237 seconds. Instead, Latvia won its first Winter Games medal.

The women’s moguls team was shut out Saturday in the freestyle despite fielding what was regarded at the deepest squad in the world.

Four years ago, the Americans won 34 medals with the home field advantage in Salt Lake City – more than double their previous high of 13 in a Winter Games. In Turin, they were just a little staggered: two golds and a silver in two days.

Historically, countries that hosted the games experience a drop in medals when they returned to foreign soil for the next Olympics.

Jim Scherr, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, declined to make a prediction for the U.S. medal haul. But he couldn’t have predicted the early heartbreak suffered by the Americans, either. Kwan’s sudden disappearance was perhaps the most devastating blow, since Miller, Ohno and Rahvles get to return in other events.

The 25-year-old skater smiled through her tears as she spoke about leaving Turin without the gold medal she chased for a decade.

“I’ve learned it’s not about the gold, it’s about the spirit of it and about the sport itself,” she said.

So have a few of her teammates.