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Day of Winter Olympic Firsts - 2002-02-23


Friday was a day of firsts at the Winter Olympics. A tiny Croatian skier became the first alpine skier to win four medals at a single games while a Dutch speed skater was the first man to skate the 10,000 meters race in less than 13 minutes.

Janica Kostelic of Croatia entered the history books Friday by winning the gold medal in the women's giant slalom at Park City. The 20-year-old sensation finished 1.32 seconds ahead of Anja Paerson of Sweden. World Cup leader Sonja Nef took the bronze medal.

The victory made Kostelic the first alpine skier to win four Olympic medals in a single games. She said the achievement was more than she planned. "I did not expect four medals," she said. "I expected maybe one, you know, just in combined. But four, I really did not expect. Especially in Super-G (super giant slalom) and G-S (giant slalom) today. So I am happy in what I have done here."

Meanwhile at the Utah Olympic Oval, Dutch Skater Jochem Uytdehaage set a new world record on his way to winning the gold medal in the men's 10,000 meters. Uytdehaage sped around the track in 12-minutes, 58.92 seconds, making him the first man to finish the race in less than 13 minutes.

In Nordic combined, Finland's Samppa Lajunen won the gold medal in the large hill and 7.5 kilometer sprint event, making him the sports first triple gold medallist.

In men's curling, Paal Trulsen won a battle of wits with Canada's Kevin Martin to lead Norway to its first ever Olympic gold medal in the sport, 6-5. The bronze medal went to Switzerland which scored a 7-3 win over Sweden.

In men's ice hockey, Canada destroyed the gold medal hopes of upstart team Belarus, 7-1, while the United States defeated Russia, 3-2 in semifinal matches.

The U.S. win came 22 years to the day after the famed "Miracle on Ice" victory over Russia in Lake Placid. U.S. forward Bill Guerin said that his team will draw on the memory of the 1980 championship when it takes on Canada in Sunday's gold medal game. "We just have to do as best we can and go out there and give our all and try to win the game. Hopefully I can, we can all make some more [gold medal memories] for ourselves. But that (1980) is definitely the biggest one being an American born player," he said.

Germany continues to lead the total medals table with 33, 10 of them gold. The United States has 30 medals, and also has 10 golds. Norway is in third place overall with 22 medals, but has the most gold medals with 11. Seven gold medals are up for grabs Saturday in women's slalom skiing, men's cross country, four-man bobsled, and both short track and long track speed skating.

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