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Night Time is the Right Time for Olympic Events


In a change from years past, more of the events held in the mountains at the Turin Olympics are being contested at night. The crowd may be a little bit smaller, but no less enthusiastic.

Competition in Winter Olympic sports such as ice hockey and figure skating traditionally takes place after the sun goes down. But here at the Turin Games sports like skeleton, bobsled, luge and a number of ski events are being contested under the lights.

For example, the last of four runs in the women's two-man bobsled, which determines the medal winners, took place Tuesday night. The German team of Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze won the gold medal in a combined time of 3:49.98 seconds.

The American pair of Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming won the silver medal, 0.71second back, while Gerda Weissensteiner and Jennifer Isacco of Italy took the bronze, another 0.32 second behind.

Sandra Kiriasis celebrated Germany's gold medal by kissing the runners of her sled. She was asked about that after the race.

"Really I can't remember what I did," said Sandra Kiriasis. "I was just jumping around, feeling happy. Well, that is it."

An enthusiastic partisan crowd enjoyed the event despite a cold wind and temperatures dropping to almost 11 degrees below zero centigrade. Kelly Weidner of Chicago explains why she was there.

"I'm here cheering on [American silver medalist] Valerie Fleming, my high-school friend," said Kelly Weidner. "This is my first Olympics [and] it is exciting. I think it is even more exciting at night. With all the lights and all the people it is a lot of fun and surreal to watch Valerie chase her American dream."

American Lois Hollan, who competed in the women's bobsled in the 1980s before it became an Olympic sport, was also in the stands Tuesday night. She is in favor of running the event at night.

"There are a lot reasons that it's good," said Lois Hollan. "It is better for television, better for the spectators. You don't have the glare of the sun. And when there is a glare during the day they have to close curtains over the track so you can't see them."

But not everyone agrees, including silver medalist Valerie Fleming of the United States.

"I would much rather have it [as] early as possible, because I get extremely nervous," said Valerie Fleming. "So I would rather just get up and get it over with, because I pretty much don't eat all day long. And 5:30 at night is just way too long to wait."

For silver medalist Valerie Fleming, and the American sliders, the waiting is over. The bobsled silver is Team USA's first in bobsled, skeleton or luge at these Games.

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