Bill Koch, who won a silver medal in the 30-kilometer cross country ski race four years ago in Innsbruck and became the first American to win a medal in cross-country Olympic competition, quit at the 22-kilometer mark today.
He isn't down. And he isn't disappointed. Or so he says.
"It happens. It wasn't the wax and it wasn't the snow.
"I figured the energy I would use in getting back to the finish and being hounded by the press could be better used for the 15-kilometer on Sunday," he said.
So just past the 22-kilometer checkpoint, where the coaches out on the course, last saw him, Koch picked up his skis and jogged home.
"I wasn't in the ball game," he said. With three more races to come I decided the best thing to do was to get back to the house and get a shower and start concentrating."
Did that mean he was having a hard time concentrating in Lake Placid, where he was supposed to have the home-course advantage?
"No way I was psyched out," he said.
U.S. Nordic coach John Bower disagreed: "He was feeling the pressure, no doubt about it.
Koch said he was on a winning pace for the first five kilometers. "I just can't explain why I couldn't keep that pace."
But, he added, "i'm happy I can't (explain it). It keeps the sport mystical."
At 10 kilometers, Koch passed in front of his family, which was cheering. "Kochie, Kochie," from the stands. His time was 29:32. "There's some 28s up there," said his mother, Nancy, looking at the scoreboard. "It's not good, not so good."
Koch was supposed to do for cross-country skiiing what Frank Shorter did for running in 1972. Cross-country skiers are even called runners. One ABC type even calls the sport "winter jogging."
But Koch has no desire to be a media creation. He refused to take part in that ABC Olympic ritual known as "Up Close and Personal."
Brice Weisman, who produced 48 of those shows, says Koch asked for final editorial approval and that the request was refused.
"They came at me in an aggressive and arrogant manner," Koch said. "I'd rather keep to sports and not get into my personal life, which is what they wanted to do."
"There's a lot more to sports than winning," he concluded.
At least eight persons have been treated for frostbite and released by area hospitals since the Games began. Several more were treated on the spot, according to medical information officer Tom Riley.
A 66-year-old spectator died of a heart attack after walking up Whiteface Mountain to watch the men's downhill competition.
The unidentified man was stricken around noon while standing in 14-degree weather at the downhill finish line, nearby a half mile up the mountain.
The area enjoyed a light snowfall today on the first full day of competition. The National Weather Service said up to two inches might accumulate atop the 4.5 inches already on the ground.
Temperatures will range from a low of about 5 degrees to a high of about 20 with winds of 10 to 15 mph.
The world may not be coming to Lake Placid, but Lake Placid is calling the world. New York Telephone said today that the telephone network is carrying a far heavier load than anticipated: On Monday, nearly 72,000 calls were placed from Lake Placid and 40,000 calls came in.
The systems carried 12,363 calls during one hour on Monday, 1,400 more than the expected number according to the company. The Olympic ticket office received 2,500 calls during the busiest part of the day.