The slump is over-U.S. bobsledders win medals

Sunday, February 24, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY -- The streaks are over -- one just days old, the other decades.

After winning two straight silver medals, U.S. skier Bode Miller finished 25th in the Olympic slalom. And after 46 straight years of futility, an era running from Elvis to Britney, the U.S. men's bobsledders finally won a medal.

Make that two medals -- a silver and a bronze.

Miller was disappointed. The bobsled teams were ... delirious, out of their minds with glee. They climbed into the stands, high-fived the fans, hugged each other in celebration.

Although the gold medal went to Germany 2, driven by Andre Lange, second place -- not to mention third -- was every bit as sweet to the Americans.

"We came out here wanting a medal of any color -- it didn't matter," said Todd Hays, driver of silver-medal winning USA-1. "What an amazing ending."

USA-1, piloted by ex-college linebacker Hays, was in third place before a fourth and final run that earned the silver. USA-2, with captain Brian Shimer in his fifth and final Olympics, led his squad from fourth into a bronze.

"After 16 years, this is a fairy tale ending," said Shimer. Asked if he might reconsider retirement, the 39-year-old Shimer was adamant: "That's it. I would never come back after that finish."

Hays, as he promised, burst into tears when the results became final.

It was the first U.S. men's bobsled medal since the four-man team took bronze at Cortina, Italy, in 1956.

U.S. double-medalist Apolo Anton Ohno was disqualified after a collision with Japanese skater Satoru Terao in the 500-meter short track. Ohno was scheduled to go for his third medal in the 5,000-meter relay late Saturday evening.

The bobsled results solidified the American hold on second place in the overall medals race.

On the last weekend of the games, Germany continued to lead all countries with 35 medals (12 gold, 16 silver, seven bronze).

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