Originally created 02/15/02

Le May Doan cruises to another 500 title



KEARNS, Utah -- Canada's Catriona Le May Doan won her second straight Olympic 500-meter title on Thursday night, putting her within one gold medal of matching Bonnie Blair.

Le May Doan crossed the line in 37.45 seconds, giving her an aggregate time in the two-day event of 1 minute, 14.75 seconds.

She easily defeated a pair of Germans. Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt (1:14.94) won silver and Sabine Volker (1:15.19) took the bronze.

Le May Doan becomes just the second woman to win two straight 500s. Blair won three in a row in 1988, '92 and '94.

Surprisingly, Le May Doan failed to break her own world record of 37.22, even though she finished on the more favorable outer lane. She did leave with a pair of Olympic records: 37.30, set Wednesday, and a two-day total that eclipsed her mark of 1:16.60 from four years ago.

This was the second straight event in which the previous world record stood up. So much for those predictions that all 10 marks would fall on the fast ice of the Utah Olympic Oval.

Le May Doan was an overwhelming favorite in the 500. She arrived at Salt Lake City having won 18 or her last 19 races, including all six World Cup events this year.

Garbrecht-Enfeldt, skating in the final pair with Le May Doan, clinched second place with a run of 37.60. She finally earned a 500 medal after finishing sixth in 1994 and eighth four years ago.

Volker earned her first Olympic medal and will be one of the top contenders in the 1,000, along with Le May Doan.

Le May Doan took a victory lap lugging a red-and-white Canadian flag, with a small banner attached to it representing her home province of Saskatchewan. On the backstretch, husband Bart Doan - a rodeo cowboy and icemaker at the Calgary Olympic Oval - gave her his cowboy hat.

The top two finishers from the first day held their position, but Andrea Nuyt of the Netherlands dropped from third to fourth after a slight slip on the final turn, causing her left hand to scrape the ice.

Volker moved up from fifth to third, beating Nuyt by 0.18 seconds.

The Americans were not a factor.

Chris Witty, still weak after a bout with mononucleosis, was 14th out of 31 skaters with a time of 1:16.73. The 500 is not her best event, but she wanted to use it as a warmup for Sunday's 1,000.

"I actually think I have a lot of speed considering how little I've worked the last few days," Witty said. "I feel comfortable with that."

Witty won the only two American speedskating medals at Nagano four years ago. She still has lingering doubts about how she'll perform in the 1,000 and 1,500, her stronger races.

"When you rest, the one thing you lose first is the strength," Witty said. "I haven't had time to do a lot of speed work, so doing races is going to help me. I just hope that'll be enough. Each race I get better, so hopefully by the 1,000, I'll have it."

Becky Sundstrom of Glen Ellyn, Ill., was 20th in 1:17.60. Second-generation Olympian Elli Ochowicz slipped just a few strides into her race and finished 22nd in 1:17.71.

Amy Sannes of St. Paul, Minn., didn't even finish, wiping out on the first turn.