The U.S. Olympic hockey team scored a stunning 7-3 upset over Czechoslovakia tonight, but Beth Heiden and Bill Koch, two of the American glamor athletes, lost badly in their initial attempts to win a medal.
Buzz Schneider scored two goals and set up another as the youngest-ever U.S. squad ran over the team that was seeded No. 2 in the Games behind the Soviet Union.
The U.S. broke a 2-2 tie on second-period goals by Schneider and Mark Johnson and finished the Czechs off on third-period goals by Phil Verchota, Schneider and Rob McClanahan. The U.S. will meet Norway Saturday.
Heiden, the 20-year-old speed skater from Madison, Wis., was the first on the track today and broke the old Olympic record for the 1,500 meters. But her time of 2 minutes 13.10 seconds was bettered by six other skaters, including Holland's Annie Borckink who grabbed the gold in 2:10.95.
Koch, the silver medalist in the 30-kilometer cross-country race at Innsbruck four years ago, dropped out of the same race today after 22 kilometers. The 18.6-mile competition was won by Nikolaj Zimjatov of the Soviet Union, a 24-year-old student at Moscow's Institute of Physical Culture, in 1 hour 27 minutes 2.80 seconds.
Americans did have relatively excellent success at Whiteface Mountain, placing three men in the top 16 of the downhill, including Pete Patterson of Sun Valley, Idaho, who was fifth, the best downhill showing by an American since 1952.
But the downhill mostly belonged to a young Austrian upstart, Leonhard Stock, who came to Whiteface as an alternate on his team, posted the fastest time during two practice runs last week and won a gold medal today, his first-ever downhill victory.
His countryman, Peter Wirnsberger, won the silver medal and Steve Podorski of Canada took the bronze, the first North American man ever to win a medal in an Olympic downhill.
At the speed-skating oval in downtown Lake Placid, Beth Heiden was considered a favorite in the 1,500 meters, even though she has had an Achilles' problem the last few weeks and the 3,000 is her event. Today, however, she had the misfortune of going first on the slower, fresh ice, and her chances for a medal quickly disappeared.
She insisted when it was over that, "I expected to be sixth, I thought I'd need goo luck to be second or third. There are too many good skaters. It was the press that throught I'd win."
Heiden's coach, Dianne Holum, said she thought Beth could have done better. "Just a second off the world record," she said. "She feels this pressure a lot more than (brother) Eric. She's really never had any before. Last year (when he was world champion), nothing was expected of her.
"I've seen this happening for almost a year," said Holumn, speaking to a Dutch reporter near the grandstand. She's just lost a good deal of her confidence."
No one thought Holland's Borckink, who never had won a major race, had much of a chance, not after her fourth-place finish in the world championships last month. The general feeling in Holland was that it shouldn't even send a team after an embarrassing showing in the worlds.
Borckink skated in the fifth pair against Tatiana Barabash, of the Soviet Union. Her Dutch teammate, Ria Visser, had the fastest time of the competition until Borckink skimmed arount the ice, then waited for 11 more races before she knew she had won the gold.
Visser, who said, "it felt very strange" to watch Borckink's race, had to settle for the silver in 2:12.35 and West Germany's Sabine Becker took the bronze in 2:12.38. Nineteen of the 30 skaters broke the previous Olympic record.
On the Mount van Hoevenberg cross-country course, Zimjatov led from start to finish over the three-loop track with light snow falling throughout the race. His teammate, Vasili Rochev, was second and Ivan Lebanov of Bulgaria took the bronze, the first medal won by a Bulgarian since the Games began in 1924.
Zimjatov, 24, finished second in a pre-Olympic competition here last year. But this was the first major international competition of the season for the Soviets, who traditionally skip international events in Olympic years. "We skied in Russia," he said.
Zimjatov said he had the lead from the beginning. At four kilometers, he had a nine-second advantage, by five he had a 15-second lead.
"The pace was so high," he said, "I didn't know if I could cope with it." But the conditions -- low clouds, little snow and low humidity were ideal for the Soviet, even if they apparently did not suit Koch.
His teammate, Doug Peterson, who finished 45th, took a swipe at Koch when the race was over, saying, "You'll never see me drop out of a race this year. I've got too much pride to quit."
Stan Dunkle was the highest-finishing American in 30th place, followed by James Galanes in 41st and Peterson in 45th -- and this from supposely the best Nordic team the U.S. ever had fielded.
Said cross-country Coach Rob Kiesel: "They had nothing going. Frankly, I'm baffled."
Still, there was jubilation in the American camp 10 miles away at Whiteface, with Patterson fifth in the downhill, Phil Mahre 14th and Andy Mill 16th.
Patterson had never finished better than 100th in World Cup downhill competition and had seriously considered giving up the event in favor of the slaloms after he broke his leg in 1978.
"I just felt good on the first turn, and I thought I had a pretty good shot at a good time after I got through the worst part at the top," he said."There were times when I really felt kinda radical at the top, I was all over the place, but that's the way it is when you go fast."
Stock was the 15th man down a run that is not considered among the most dangerous on the World Cup circuit. He had the day's fastest intermediate times and finished in 1:45.50, with Wirnsberger next at 1:46.12 and Podborski third in 1:46.62.
"I am a big fighter," Stock said. "I used to fight as a kid. I had to fight to come back off my injury and I was able to fight and win the race. I had absolutely no problems."
The same could not be said for one of the favorites in the race, Canada's Ken Read, who lost a ski because of a faulty binding less than 15 seconds into his run. America's fastest man in practice, Karl Anderson, fell at approximately the same place -- in the course's third turn -- and was down and out.
"The first couple of turns were terrific," Anderson said. "I really thought I had something going. But that was all she wrote for the kid. Another day, another dollar; only there's no dollars today."