Winter Olympics: Moe mastered by Kjus

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The Independent Online
A DAY after the biggest win of his life, Tommy Moe was back on the piste yesterday, competing in his second event at the Lillehammer Games. After claiming a surprise gold medal in the men's downhill, anything else that the American accomplishes here will be anticlimactic. But Moe was aiming to do his best in the downhill portion of the two-part combined event.

He had come down enough from his weekend victory high to place third in 1min 37.14sec, on a shorter version of the Olympicbakken piste where he won his gold medal. The Norwegian downhiller, Lasse Kjus, headed the standings on 1min 36.95sec, ahead of Moe's team-mate, Kyle Rasmussen, who was a mere 0.01sec back.

Rasmussen has not skied a slalom, the second element of the combined, for several seasons because of back problems, but is keen to try. 'Tommy's win was a great boost for us,' he said. 'I had no pressure.'

The leaders will have a long wait before medals are awarded. The slalom will not be held until 25 February. Times from the two disciplines are combined to produce the results table.

Regardless of his combined finish and his placing in Thursday's super-giant slalom, Moe has suddenly established himself as a racing name to reckon with. The American team's Swiss head coach, Uli Leuthi, called his skier's win 'a great victory at the right time. We got a great boost from the downhill gold, especially since it was the first big race of the Games.'

The Alaskan is totally immersed in the glory of his sport, and would not trade it for the world.

'I really have a love for the sport,' said Moe, whose girlfriend, Megan Gerety, is in the women's team. 'My dad taught me to ski and I just took it as second nature. It's great, we travel and see the world in the World Cup. But the most rewarding thing is to get to the bottom of the hill and know that you've done your best.'

Medal chances could come again at least twice for the American before the Lillehammer Olympic tents are packed up and the snow show closes.

Jilly Curry, Britain's freestyle medal hope, has pulled out of today's moguls event because of a knee injury suffered in a fall in competition last week. After intensive physiotherapy she will ski in next week's aerials, in which she came fourth at Albertville two years ago.

Olympic results, page 39