Originally created 02/22/06

Turin notebook

TURIN, Italy - Five of the 20 players on the U.S. women's hockey team said they're probably done with international play after the Americans' disappointing bronze-medal finish.

But defenseman Angela Ruggiero and forward Jenny Potter aren't ready to quit yet - and both could see themselves in Vancouver in 2010 as four-time Olympians.

Ruggiero scored six points and was named the tournament's top defenseman despite several embarrassing giveaways in the Americans' two toughest games: their comeback win over Finland and their historic 3-2 loss to Sweden. At just 26, she easily could be in top form for Vancouver - if she has the time to train.

She's currently up for a spot on "The Apprentice" next season that's being determined by fan voting on NBC's Olympic Web site. Whether or not she meets The Donald, she knows she'll probably need to start a career during the four years between games.

"I know I'm going to play next year, but four years is a long time," said Ruggiero, who published her autobiography last year. "I just don't know whether I can do it yet."

Potter, 27, seems much more determined to be one of the first four-time Olympians in her sport, and coach Ben Smith thinks the undersized forward will make it. She was outstanding in Turin, leading the U.S. team with two goals, seven assists and a plus-10 rating.

But just in case, Potter carried her 5-year-old daughter, Madison, around the ice with her after the bronze-medal match.

"I just have a lot of fun playing for this team, so I want to do it as long as possible," Potter said.


EMPTY-HANDED HANNU: Hannu Manninen has a record 42 wins in Nordic combined World Cup events, but his Olympic career is likely over without the Finnish great ever winning an individual medal.

The three-time World Cup champ finished Tuesday's large hill sprint event in 12th place and said he's likely done with the games.

"I'm thinking these are my last Olympics," he said. "Four years is a long time."

The 27-year-old won 11 World Cup events this year, but couldn't ride that momentum into the Turin Games.

"I'm disappointed because the season leading up to the Olympics was almost perfect," he said after the cross country portion of Tuesday's race at Pragelato. "I felt confident and knew if I came here and did my normal skiing I could have won a medal."

Austria's Felix Gottwald won the gold medal by 5.4 seconds over silver medalist Magnus Moan of Norway. Germany's Georg Hettich, the leader after the morning's jumping session, took the bronze.

Manninen said he lacked the power to make up a 1 minute, 10 second deficit after the ski jumping portion of the event.

"The cross-country started out well," he said. "But I started to feel tired after the first lap and I ran out of power. The end was difficult for me and I just tried to hang on."

His only Olympic medals are from team events.

"I don't know, nobody knows why," said Manninen. "It's hard to say what the reason is."


SEEING, BELIEVING: One of U.S. bobsledder Brock Kreitzburg's first Olympic moments was an emotional one.

The brakeman for USA-1, Kreitzburg, who is a born-again Christian, was moved by his visit to see the Shroud of Turin, an ancient burial cloth many believe was used to wrap the crucified body of Jesus Christ.

"It was pretty awesome," said the Akron, Ohio, native. "Being from the West, you don't get to see the roots of your faith. I'm not from Israel, where Jesus preached or Jesus walked. Being able to come to the Shroud makes my faith even more real. It makes my faith that much stronger."

Kreitzburg, who has a master's degree in divinity, is aware of the centuries-old debate over the shroud's authenticity. Although he saw a replica of the shroud - the actual one is only displayed on orders from the Vatican - the experience deeply touched the 30-year-old, recently added to driver Todd Hays' sled.

"Some people say it's real, some people say it's not authentic but it meant a lot to me, to stand there and see the image of Jesus," he said. "It was pretty emotional."


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