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Flaim Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

February 21, 1988|Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta — East Germany's Andre Hoffmann broke Eric Flaim's five-minute-old world record and won the men's 1,500-meter race Saturday night, but Flaim's silver gave the United States its first Olympic speed skating medal since 1980.

Flaim, 20 of Pembroke, Mass., who dedicated his performance to teammate Dan Jansen and his family, skated in the opening pair. After a false start, he set a world and Olympic record of 1 minute 52.12 seconds.

Hoffmann, skating in the third pair, got off a 24.43-second split in the first 300 meters and went on to finish in 1:52.06. The 26-year-old Hoffmann finished 11th in the 1,500 at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, in 1984.

Michael Hadschieff of Austria won the bronze medal in 1:52.31.

The previous world record was 1:52.50 set in Calgary last December by Igor Zhelezovsky of the Soviet Union. On Saturday, Zhelezovsky tired in the final 100 meters and finished fourth in 1:52.63.

Jansen fell twice last week in races he was trying to win for his sister, who died of leukemia on the opening day of the speed skating competition.

Flaim finished fourth in his first two Olympic races--the 1,000 and 5,000. His medal is the first in speed skating for the United States since the 1980 Games at Lake Placid, N.Y., when Eric Heiden won five gold medals. Heiden's Olympic record for the 1,500 was 1:55.44.

Flaim, who will skate the 10,000 meters today, smiled and waved to the crowd as he took his warm-down laps and watched the other skaters.

He has been the lone bright spot for an American team beset by mishap and tragedy.

Jansen and Nick Thometz, the sprinters who were considered to be the United States' top medal contenders before the Games, finished out of the running in both the 500 and 1,000. Jansen fell in both races and Thometz was eighth and 18th.

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