February 15, 2006

Dorfmeister triumphs, Italians bite ice

By Ossian Shine

TURIN (Reuters) - Sobbing in triumph, Austrian skier
Michaela Dorfmeister knelt to kiss the Alpine snow on Wednesday
as her Olympic dream came true, while in the ice hockey the
Italian hosts bit the ice against the might of Canada.

Dorfmeister let her emotion loose and dissolved into tears
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, Italy's ice hockey
team were licking their wounds after an expected 7-2 defeat by
titleholders Canada.

The jet-lagged Canadians, who had arrived in Turin just 24
hours earlier, got the contest off to a sluggish start against
an energetic and motivated Team Italy, which had spent almost a
year preparing for the contest.

After holding Canada to a single goal in the first period,
Italy sparked dreams of an unthinkable upset when Bob Nardella
leveled the score at 1-1, bringing the near-capacity crowd to
their feet.

The celebrations, however, were short-lived.

"We definitely thought we had a chance," said Italian
defenseman Carter Trevisani. "When it was 1-1 I thought maybe
we could hold them off.

"We knew we couldn't let them get up on us, if they get two
or three goals ahead there's no coming back."

In the Nordic combined, the 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.


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."