The difference between U.S. speed skater Chris Witty's silver medal and a gold in her speciality - the women's 1,000-meter event - ended up being too much of a will to win.
So said U.S. coach Gerard Kemkers of the world-record holder in the 1,000, as Witty placed second to the Netherlands' Marianne Timmer Thursday at the M-Wave."She didn't have the greatest race," said Kemkers of Witty. "She was . . . so eager to get to the finish that she forgot to skate a bit. Today was just will. The will of winning. The will of getting to the finish. It was just too much."
Witty's two medals - she picked up a bronze earlier in the 1,500 - are the only Olympic awards that the United States has picked up in the Nagano Games, and that actually is one more medal than was projected for the Americans in that discipline.
Expected to use Nagano as a stepping stone for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the U.S. skaters instead have been overachievers, racking up numerous national records and top 10 finishes.
For Witty, the silver was a previous - albeit bittersweet - medal. "I'm pretty excited," she said. "A little bit sad but pretty excited, so a silver isn't too bad. I'll take it and run with it."
But she couldn't help but think what might have been, what should have been. "I pretty much know in the race where I lost it," Witty said. "When you know where you did something wrong, it's kind of hard to swallow."
Update: Look in the U.S. ski team's media guide and you can find Julie Parisien as an "alumni" and former Olympian. But she staged a comback and earned a spot back on the U.S. team in time for Nagano. She was the top finisher for the women Thursday and Friday in an otherwise unspectacular two days for the Americans.
Results: Women's giant slalom (Friday) - Julie Parisien, 28th; Caroline LaLive, DNF 1st run; Sarah Schlepper, DNF 2nd run; Alexandra, DNF 2nd run. Women's slalom (Thursday) - Julie Parisien, 13th; Sara Schleper, 22nd; Tasha Nelson, DSQ on 1st run; Kristina Koznick, DNF 2nd run. Men's giant slalom (Thursday) - Daron Rahlves, 20th; Sacha Gros, 26th; Casey Puckett, DNF 1st run; Bode Miller, DNF 2nd run.
Update: Flip-flopping places with Michelle Kwan after Wednesday's short program, Tara Lipinski captured the gold with her stunning free program Friday night. Kwan won the silver. Hopes for a possible U.S. sweep were far from reality.
Results: Women's free skating (Friday) - Tara Lipinski, gold medal; Michelle Kwan, silver medal; Nicole Bobek, 17th.
Update: Brian Shimer's USA I crew pushed to the second-fastest start time but still wound up in fourth place following Friday's single run. Heavy rains canceled the second run, with second-day heats set for Saturday at The Spiral track.
Results: Men's four-man bobsled, first day (Friday - second of two heats canceled) - USA I (Shimer/Minton/Jones/Hines), 4th; USA II (Herberich/Steele/Kasper/Olesen), 14th.
Update: Chris Witty picked up her - and her country's - second speed skating medal Thursday.
Results: Women's 5,000 meters (Friday) - Kirsten Holum, 7th; Jennifer Rodriguez, 10th. Women's 1,000 meters (Thursday) - Chris Witty, silver medal; Becky Sunstrom, 6th; Moira D'Andrea, 9th; Jennifer Rodriguez, 13th.
Update: More back-of-the-pack finishes for the Americans.
Results: Women's 30-kilometer freestyle (Friday) - Laura Wilson, 36th; Kerrin Petty, 41st; Suzanne King, 43rd; Laura McCabe, 49th.
SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING
Update: Andy Gabel is the only American so far to skate in an events' medal-heat finals.
Results: Women's 500 meters (Thursday) - Erin Gleason, eliminated during quarterfinals; Erin Porter and Amy Peterson, eliminated during first heats. Men's 500 meters heats (Thursday) - Andy Gabel, qualified for Saturday's quarterfinals; Rusty Smith and Daniel Weinstein, eliminated. Men's 5,000-meter relay semifinals (Thursday) - USA eliminated.
Update: The American foursome finished 15th of 17 teams, some eight-plus minutes off the pace.
Results: Women's 4x7.5-meter relay - USA (Skinner/Wooley/Salmela/Sabasteanski), 15th.
Update: The sole U.S. highlight came when Todd Lowick had the third-best individual score after the first jump. However, the Americans struggled to finish second-to-last among the 11 competing teams after Thursday's jumping before falling next-to-last after Friday's cross country event.
Results: Men's combined (jumping and cross country (Thursday and Friday) - USA (Demong/Tetreault/Jarrett/Lodwich), 10th (9th after Thursday's team jumping).