Thrills and spills

AT THE end of the first week of the world’s greatest winter sport spectacle, Great Britain landed a medal from an unexpected source. Unknown Shelley Rudman hurtled down the icy skeleton track to take silver behind Swiss world champion Maya Pedersen, joining an elite club of just 20 modern-era British winter Olympic medallists since 1964. The 24-year-old gym instructor from Wiltshire had only taken up the sport four years ago and expects further improvement by the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Medal hopes existed in the same discipline for her boyfriend, Kristan Bromley, but both his and team-mate Adam Pengilly’s chances disappeared after disappointing second runs. Further glory may be delivered by the men’s curling team, which has qualified for the semi-finals following victories over Germany and Switzerland. Britain’s women curlers, who sensationally took gold in Salt Lake City, are as good as out however, losing to Canada, Norway and Japan during the round-robin stage.

Portugal laid claim to at least half a silver medal, after Stephane Lambiel finished second in the men’s artistic skating competition. The 20-year-old Swiss national has a Portuguese mother and admits to supporting Benfica. Portugal’s only accredited competitor, Danny Silva, who was born and raised in America, finished down the field in the 15km cross country.

Austrian downhill veteran Michaela Dorfmeister ended her career with a gold medal, while both Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic rewrote the history books with their fourth consecutive Olympic victories in the Super-G and Combined Downhill respectively. Perhaps the most curious incident occurred in the figure skating final when the Chinese couple attempted a quadruple salchow jump. After Zhang Hao launched his partner Zhang Dan into the jump, she landed awkwardly taking time to compose herself, which would normally have put an end to their participation in the competition. Under new rules, however, the pair resumed after receiving medical attention and went on to claim silver.

Negative headlines were written by US superstar Bode Miller, who was, once more, disqualified when leading the Combined Downhill skiing competition (for ‘straddling’ a gate), and Brazilian bobsleigh pilot, Armando dos Santos, sent home after testing positive for nandronolene.