It will be hard to take your eyes off Mark Grimmette and partner Brian Martin. They slid to a bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano. They topped that with a silver at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Today, they will try to become the first male Americans to win medals at three straight Games. And of course, as a bonus, they will be trying to add gold to their collection. Their upward trend actually began in 1994 at Lillehammer, when Grimmette finished fourth with former partner Jonathan Edwards.
Grimmette, a 6-foot-1, 198-pound native of Ann Arbor, Mich., weighs nearly 40 pounds more than the 5-8 Martin, but they say they are in perfect sync on a sled -- Grimmette sits in front, or on top, and Martin in back, or on the bottom -- and know what each other is thinking at all times. They also say their experience together offsets their ages: Martin is 32 and Grimmette, who is often called "Papa Mark," is 35.
In Turin, winning any medal will be a challenge for the Americans. Each admits he hasn't mastered the dreaded Curve 14 on Turin's track, and they had a rough season by their standards, winning just one World Cup race and finishing no better than sixth in the rest.
Among the favorites will be Italy's Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber, the 2005 overall World Cup champions, who will receive crowd support on their home track. Germany's Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, the reigning Olympic champions, will seek another gold. Austria's Tobias Schiegl and Markus Schiegl also should contend for a medal.