February 15, 2006

Dorfmeister triumphs, Nordic teams on ice

By Ossian Shine

TURIN (Reuters) - Kissing the snow and weeping with joy,
Michaela Dorfmeister soaked up her Olympic glory on Wednesday
after a long-awaited victory in the women's downhill.

Just a month before retirement, the 32-year-old swept all
aside to win the one prize that had long eluded her at the
Winter Games.

"This was my last dream," she said. "Now I will be able to
retire with a perfect feeling and I can't wait to start a new

As Dorfmeister reveled in her glory, the Nordic combined
teams were left on ice after their event was postponed due to
high winds.

It has been rescheduled for Thursday. Results from
Wednesday's first round of ski jumping, completed before the
wind picked up, will stand meaning world champions Norway are
ruled out.

Norway had been unable to make Wednesday's start after
three members of their four-man team fell ill.

Each athlete jumps twice on the larger of the two hills at
Pragelato, 80 km (50 miles) west of host city Turin. Their
combined scores are used to calculate their starting positions
in the second half of the competition, the 4x5 km cross-country


Twice a world champion in the speed events, overall World
Cup champion in 2002 and four times a winner of season-long
titles in the individual cups, Dorfmeister had never quite made
the grade at Olympics.

On Wednesday she put that right.

Her time of one minute 56.49 seconds down the Fraiteve
piste beat Swiss Martina Schild into silver with overall World
Cup champion Anja Paerson of Sweden winning bronze.

"I have been so nervous for the last two days. I couldn't
sleep," she said.

"My legs were so heavy at the start of the race, then I
said to myself: 'hey, let's go for it'."

World champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia did not start the
downhill because of a high pulse rate and defending champion
Carole Montillet-Carles, of France, was never in contention.

That she competed at all after a heavy crash in training on
Monday was a triumph.

Hardly recognizable with her face bruised and swollen, the
Frenchwoman finished an embarrassing 28th, 4.54 seconds behind

There had been doubts until the last minute about her
participation as she was also suffering from back pains.

"It was my decision and it was the right one. I could not
face watching the race from my bedroom or from the bottom," she

"I had prepared for this day for the last 10 months and it
was my one and only goal of the season. I could not give up so
close to my goal."

Montillet-Carles is optimistic she can recover in time for
Sunday's super-G and despite her disappointment, has not lost
her sense of humor.

To a passing fan who shouted: "Carole, I love you!," she
replied: "Have you seen my face?

"I'm lucky to be married or I would never find a husband
with a face like this."