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  Moe Shows Medal Again, Wins Silver in Super G

By Angus Phillips
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 18, 1994 ; Page C1

 tommy moe file photo
 Tommy Moe says he took control of his career after a "miserable" 1992 season. (AP File Photo)
LILLEHAMMER, Norway, Feb. 17 — Ho-hum. Another day, another Olympic medal. So it goes for the soaring U.S. Ski Team, which after four events here has all four U.S. medals of the 17th Winter Games — two golds and two silvers.

Today it was Tommy Moe's turn — again. On his 24th birthday, the lantern-jawed Alaskan was so at ease it was all he could do to stay awake for his sizzling run down the Super G course at Kvitfjell, where on Sunday he'd dazzled a crowd of 30,000 at the downhill with his first career win in world competition. Today's silver makes Moe the first American skier to win two medals in a single Olympics.

With gold already in his pocket, Moe could relax. "I caught myself yawning three or four times before the start," he said, "which is always a good sign for me."

But he cranked up the juice for a near-perfect, 1½-minute run, whizzing through the gates with such alacrity his biggest problem was excess speed. "I looked up and there was the finish," said Moe, who sped so fast near the bottom he found himself out of one gate before he could start turning for the next.

"I was having a good run," said Moe, "but then I had a mental blank. I was going so fast I got a little late."

The error knocked him out of sync and the resulting correction as he rocked back on his heels — barely discernible to the unpracticed eye — cost the eye-blink of time that separates gold from silver at this level. He was in first place for only two minutes until Markus Wasmeier of Germany, next starter out of the gate, roared in 8/100ths of a second faster.

The crowd was just finished singing "Happy Birthday" to Moe when Wasmeier, in his tiger-striped suit, dived into view on the 64-degree pitch to the finish. The German knew his run was a medal-winner when his time flashed on the scoreboard and he threw his hands high and grinned.

Wasmeier, like women's Super G winner Diann Roffe-Steinrotter of the United States, had gone a staggering nine years without a victory on the world circuit, and Moe was gracious in his praise for the respected veteran, who broke his back skiing in 1987 and made a long climb back to prominence.

"I'm happy for Markus," he said, "He's been on the tour a long time. And I'm happy for myself too."

Moe has a chance to add to his medal collection. He was third in the downhill portion of the combined event on Monday, and races the slalom portion Feb. 25 for a medal.

Combined medal or no, Moe is already miles ahead of where anyone expected him to be — except perhaps himself. He was embarrassed into trying something new after finishes of 20th, 28th and 18th in downhill, Super G and combined at the 1992 Games in Albertville.

"I took control of my career after that miserable season," he said. Moe decided to focus on improving his turns by training on giant slalom courses instead of downhill or the Super G, which is a slightly slower version of the downhill.

He spent his offseasons carving sharper turns in New Zealand and found that when he came back for the winter season, "I could hop on my downhill skis and it was easy for me."

He made it to the medal stand once last year for a silver, and had nailed seven top-10 finishes, including two bronze medals on the World Cup this year. Everything, he said, pointed to success here. "I'm at the pinnacle of my career right now," said Moe. "My secret game plan is working and I don't want to let anything pass by."

Moe's father, Tom Sr., an Alaska building contractor who taught his son to ski when he was 3, said he expected a medal today. "Turns is what he does best. He likes the Super G better than the downhill."

Moe's time of 1 minute 32.61 seconds was almost a third of a second faster than third-place Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway. Aamodt was second to Moe in the downhill Sunday as well.

The high-flying American's finish today squelched a party for another Norwegian, Atle Skardal, the day's first racer, who also was celebrating his birthday. Skardal held first place briefly after his run and was enjoying himself until Moe, wearing bib No. 3, hit the finish. A smattering of boos accompanied the news of Moe's much faster time.

But that was short-lived. Skarbal, who wound up sixth, invited Moe to join him for birthday cake and before long Wasmeier was gobbling some too.

Phil Mahre is the only other American man with two Olympic Alpine medals, but they came at different games, a silver in 1980 and a gold in 1984.

In all, 69 skiers came down the frigid, sunlit course before the winners were official. Among them was American Kyle Rasmussen, who was second in the downhill portion of the combined on Tuesday. Rasmussen pulled out all the stops in an effort to catch longtime training partner Moe, and in the process provided some comic relief.

He schussed down so fast that by the middle of the run he found himself bearing down on a set of slalom gates with no chance of avoiding them. So Rasmussen ducked into his speed tuck and split the uprights cleanly, touching neither pole or flag.

"For a second I thought, 'Maybe nobody saw that,' " said Rasmussen, who went on to complete the run even though he was disqualified. "Then I said, 'Yeah, right, this is only the Olympics.' "

Rasmussen and Moe will take a couple days off before resuming training for the slalom half of the combined. Meantime, the spotlight shifts to the women's team, whose downhill is Saturday.

With gold medals in men's downhill and women's Super G and silvers in women's freestyle and the men's Super G, the pressure is on for more. Women's downhiller Picabo Street said she loves the Kvitfjell course and will do her best to keep the string of successes alive.

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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