Victory Mixed With Agony For U.S. Team

Joey Cheek won the men's 500 meters Monday, giving the United States its second speedskating gold medal of the Turin Olympics.

Cheek's victory was the second straight by an American in the furious sprint race. Casey FitzRandolph won a gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Cheek skated 1 1/4 laps in 34.94 seconds, giving him a combined time of 1 minute, 9.76 seconds. He was the only man to break 35 seconds in both his races on the slow Turin ice.

Not to be outdone by the boys, Hannah Teter won the gold medal for the U.S. in snowboarding halfpipe and Gretchen Bleiler won silver. A day earlier, Shaun White and Danny Kass won gold and silver respectively, with Mason Aguirre in fourth.

And just like the men, the women came painfully close to a sweep.

"Snow boarding is just like second nature — like talking. I get on my board and it feels like freedom," Teter told CBS News' Manuel Gallegus.

But it's a different story for U.S. luger Samantha Retrosi, who sustained a concussion and short-term memory loss following a frightening crash on the second run of the Olympic competition Monday night.

Retrosi was carried off on a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance. Team officials said she was complaining of knee pain and was cut on her chin, but did not believe the first-time Olympian was seriously injured.

"It was a bad crash ... but the bottom line is that she's going to be OK," U.S. team leader Fred Zimny said.

It was agony on a different mountain for American downhill skier Lindsey Kildow. She was airlifted to a city hospital after crashing during practice. The U.S. Olympic Committee medical director says Kildow's X-rays appear normal, but Kildow says she's experiencing back pain, most likely from a severe hip or pelvic bruise.

The 21-year-old Kildow lost control when her left ski slid out as she began to turn right around a gate on a rolling, relatively flat stretch midway through the run. She immediately went into an awkward split, with her right knee buckling and slamming against the ground.

Her momentum carried her into the air for about 15 feet and she landed on her back, slammed her head and slid to a stop. Kildow was heaving with pain as medical personnel rushed to her aid, her legs splayed awkwardly.

Kildow was going about 50 mph when she fell. The U.S. Olympic Committee Web site says Kildow will be hospitalized overnight as a precaution.

Just a few days ago the world champion was poised to win her first Olympic medal.

"I'm feeling strong," Kildow said during practice. "I had a good training block. I'm feeling ready."

In related developments:

  • The competition shifted Monday night into the city of Torino, where American figure skating pairs are on the ice for the first time. But Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russian won the pairs figure skating gold medal at the Turin Olympics. Check the schedule of upcoming events.
  • Four suspended cross-country skiers will get their chance at an Olympic medal, passing new hemoglobin tests administered Monday after serving five-day suspensions. Two of the athletes cleared were Americans, another a German gold medalist. Now, eight more have to hope they get the same results. Last week, a dozen skiers were given five-day suspensions for elevated levels of hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that can increase endurance. The rest chose to put off their tests because they weren't scheduled to compete in the men's and women's team sprint events Tuesday.
  • President Bush announced Monday that Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani will attend the 2006 Winter Olympic Games' closing cememony as part of the U.S. delegation. The U.S. ambassador to Italy and racecar driver Mario Andretti are joining Giuliani.
  • At the end of competitions Monday, Norway lead the medals chase with eight, one of which is a gold. The U.S. leads in gold medals with four, but the Russians have each pocketed three golds, and seven overall medals. Track the current medal count.
  • Wayne Gretzky arrives Tuesday at the Olympics, and a nervous Canada wonders if he's bringing the formula for another hockey gold medal or a whole mess of trouble. No matter what Team Canada does starting Wednesday, questions will accompany Gretzky throughout the games about what he knows, if anything, about a gambling ring allegedly fronted by his top assistant coach with the NHL's Coyotes and supposedly patronized by Gretzky's wife.
  • Michelle Kwan won't be on the ice, and she won't be behind a microphone either. Soon after an injured Kwan bowed out of the games, NBC executives courted the athlete they had banked on being its biggest draw, hoping to lure her into the broadcast booth. But Kwan turned down the job offer (video), saying she didn't want to be a distraction for remaining members of the U.S. Olympic figure skating team, NBC Sports spokesman Michael McCarley said Sunday.
  • Pete Fenson and the U.S. men's curling team had the worst possible start against defending Olympic champion Norway. And the best conceivable finish: A whopping five-point end in the eighth gave the Americans an 11-5 lead that forced Norway to concede with two frames to go. Curling matches usually last 10 ends, which are similar to innings in baseball. "It's probably good to get the red light out of the way," said American lead John Shuster, who kicked Fenson's stone away in disgust after he held onto it too long, called a hog line violation. "That will end up helping us in the long run."
  • Kelly Clark, the 2002 gold medalist in snowboarding halfpipe, got bumped out of the women's third spot after Norway's Kjersti Buaas had one of the runs of her life. During competition she said: "I felt like this was the time to pull out all the stops. I really went for it."

    But she finished with 41.1 points to 42 for the Norwegian.

    Again, though, it was hard to complain — at least not for the American side. Even Clark seemed to be soaking this one in, standing at the bottom and congratulating her teammates who finished up after her.

    During the awards ceremony, Teter wrapped the American flag around her waist and jumped up and down on the podium. Both she and Bleiler wore stars-and-stripes bandannas, the same as White wore the day before.

    Teter's road to victory was also a lot like White's.

    Riding with the cords from her iPod dangling about, she scored a 44.6 on her first run to take the lead, an advantage that none of the other 11 riders could match. It made her second trip down the icy pipe a victory lap, just like White's, except she outdid the first, scoring a 46.4 on the strength of a frontside 540 followed by a frontside 900.

    Like most of the best athletes in this so-called "alternative lifestyle" sport that is quickly going mainstream, Teter has taken a quirky path through life and athletics.

    The 19-year-old lists one of her favorite hobbies as making syrup out of the sap from trees near her home in Vermont. Her entire family is involved in snowboarding, from two brothers who also are on the U.S. team, to another who is the manager of what they call Team Teter.

    Bleiler, meanwhile, is no stranger to photo shoots and could have a career in modeling once the snowboarding is over. She missed the Olympic team on the strength of a tiebreaker in 2002, a motivator that landed her next to her teammate four years later.

    Their wins combined with those of the boys' is likely to push this once-fringe sport even further into the spotlight. A good sign of how far it's come is that both top finishers skipped the X Games late last month to be better prepared for the Olympics. No snowboarder would have thought to do that 10 years ago.