Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1997: SPORTS-AND-GAMES in English


SKIING Alpine Skiing. The world championships, postponed for the first time the previous year because of a lack of snow at Sierra Nevada, Spain, were successfully held at the same place in February 1996. After a decade of trying, Alberto Tomba of Italy won gold medals in both the slalom and giant slalom, duplicating his double at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alta. Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg added yet another triumph to his impressive list of career successes by clinching his third combined title. Winner of a record five World Cups and at least one medal in every world championship since 1985, Girardelli achieved a remarkable triumph of nerve and determination in an injury-ridden career that included 13 knee operations. Atle Skaardal, a prominent Norwegian skier for more than a decade without winning a world title, finally succeeded in the supergiant slalom (super G) just four days short of his 30th birthday. Patrick Ortlieb of Austria won a disappointing downhill that favoured the first dozen to descend, after which the course became so slushy that the later starters had no chance. Sharing Tomba's dominance was Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg, affirming her status as the leading women's all-rounder by adding the slalom title to that of the combined event. Deborah Compagnoni, despite only six weeks of preparation following a knee operation, claimed another title for Italy in the women's giant slalom. When Isolde Kostner triumphed in the super G, Italians had won 4 of the tournament's 10 titles. Kostner's and Compagnoni's victories were the first for Italian women since 1932. Picabo Street (see BIOGRAPHIES) became the first U.S. skier to win the downhill. The 30th Alpine World Cup series thrived in more plentiful snow conditions than in the previous season. Tomba, the 1995 victor, made it clear early that he had no intention of trying to do so again, switching his priority to the world championships. Lasse Kjus of Norway and Germany's Katja Seizinger won the men's and women's overall titles, respectively, each for the first time. Hard-pressed all the way by the Austrian runner-up, Gnther Mader, Kjus won races in three disciplines but did not achieve the top ranking in any. Michael von Grnigen of Switzerland headed the giant slalom list and Skaardal the super G, with Luc Alphand of France winning the downhill and his compatriot Sbastien Amiez the slalom. In the women's disciplines Seizinger was the highest scorer in the super G, Street in the downhill, Elfi Eder of Austria in the slalom, and Martina Ertl of Germany in the giant slalom. Nordic Skiing. Unlike the Alpine competitors, the Nordic skiers did not have a world championship tournament in 1996 and thus were able to focus fully on the 17th Nordic World Cup. In that competition Bjrn Dhlie of Norway and Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan continued their supremacy. Dhlie retained the overall title, his fourth in five years, with runner-up Smirnov denied a chance to clinch a third success in six seasons because of illness before the final 50 km. Each won 6 of the season's 15 events. Manuela Di Centa of Italy overcame ill health to recapture the women's trophy she had won in 1994, narrowly preventing the Russian defending champion, Yelena Vyalbe, from gaining a fourth victory in six years. The separate Combined World Cup prize was won by Knut Apeland of Norway and the Jumping World Cup resulted in a third consecutive victory for Andreas Goldberger of Austria. ARCHERY With a score of 251 out of a possible 270, the United States men's team of Richard Johnson, Justin Huish, and Rod White won the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. No country had been a clear favourite. In women's competition South Korea, with Kim Jo Sun, Kim Kyung Wook, and Yoon Hye Young, won its third consecutive Olympic gold, as expected, with a final-round victory of 245-235 over Germany. Large scoreboards, both men and women shooting from 70 m, judges in concealed bunkers in front of the target, and instant posting of scores were new features of the competition that won approval from daily crowds of more than 5,000. The men's silver medal was taken by South Korea, which lost to the U.S. by only two points in a contest that required close examination of several arrows. The bronze went to Italy, which posted 247 to Australia's 244. Poland upset Turkey 244-239 to win the women's bronze medal. In the individual competition the women's gold medalist was Kim Kyung Wook with a 113-107 win (120 perfect) over He Ying of China. Olena Sadovnycha of Ukraine won the bronze medal by defeating Elif Altinkaynak of Turkey. The men's gold went to Huish, who defeated Magnus Petersson of Sweden in the 12-arrow final 112-107 (120 perfect). Oh Kyo Moon of South Korea scored a record-high 115 to defeat Paul Vermeiren of Belgium for the bronze. In the U.S. the National Field Archery Association indoor winners in the unlimited professional division were Terry Ragsdale and Nancy Zorn. The limited professional winners were Carolyn Elder and William Boyd. In the outdoor competition the unlimited pro champions were Doug Williams, Jr., and Inga Low, and the limited pro winners were Lori Draeving and Steve Gibbs. (LARRY WISE) AUTOMOBILE RACING Formula One automobile racing gained added interest in 1996 because 1995 world champion Michael Schumacher of Germany transferred from the Benetton-Renault team to Ferrari, whose cars became effective only when the season of 16 races was nearly over. Damon Hill, a British driver who was following the great career of his father, Graham, was the most obvious challenger to Schumacher. Jacques Villeneuve, a French-Canadian on the Williams team, proved another factor in the final outcome, however, almost winning the first round at Melbourne, Australia, before giving way to Hill because of engine problems. It became clear from the outset that the World Drivers' Championship was likely to be a bitter battle between Hill and Schumacher, and indeed it was not settled until the final race in Japan. Hill drove a marvelous race to win the second round, the Brazilian Grand Prix at So Paulo, in almost impossible conditions of torrential rain and near-impossible visibility; Villeneuve slid off the track under the difficult racing conditions. The scene then moved to Argentina, where at Buenos Aires Hill won an exciting race from Villeneuve by 12 seconds, proving again the superiority of the Renault-engined Williams cars, which were as far ahead of the opposition as they had been in 1995. The next race was the Grand Prix of Europe at Nrburgring, Ger., where the promise of the newcomer Villeneuve was demonstrated over a difficult course. He gained his first Formula One victory and proved well able to hold off Schumacher's Ferrari. At the San Marino Grand Prix, Hill won his fourth race. The Monaco Grand Prix, the only true road race, with all its traditional hazards, was a disaster for Hill, whose Williams-Renault was in the lead when the engine blew up. Villeneuve also failed to finish, and the winner was Olivier Panis of France in a Ligier-Mugen-Honda, the first Grand Prix victory for that car since 1981. By this time the Ferraris were beginning to improve, and Schumacher gave a perfect exhibition of car control at great speeds in the rain in the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona, for his first victory of the season. The racing went next to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Villeneuve's supporters were out in force to see the local boy win, but he was unable to match the experience of Hill, who triumphed once again. In the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, the Williams-Renaults again proved to be superior as Hill led from start to finish, followed by Villeneuve. At Silverstone, where a vast crowd of hopeful Britishers willed Hill to win, he made one of his hopeless starts and later retired with brake problems. Villeneuve took Hill's place and thereby ensured victory at least for a British-based car in this British Grand Prix. In the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, it was looking as if Ferrari might finally triumph, but then the engine of Austrian driver Gerhard Berger failed near the end of the race, and Hill was able to score another win. In the Hungarian Grand Prix at Budapest, Hill made up for a muffed start and almost overtook his teammate, but Villeneuve was the winner by a small margin. Next was the tricky Spa circuit in Belgium, where both the Williams-Renaults had unexpected problems, which allowed Schumacher to win for Ferrari. In the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Schumacher delighted the furiously supportive Ferrari crowd with a victory. Hill eliminated himself by colliding with tire markers erected at the turns to indicate the high curbs, which the drivers themselves had approved of in practice. Schumacher also hit this obstacle, but less hard, and his Ferrari continued on to victory. At the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril, it was Villeneuve's day. He outpaced Hill, in spite of the latter's fine start, and made the overtaking maneuver of the year when he passed Schumacher's Ferrari around the outside at a corner. This left everything to drive for at Suzuka in Japan, where the championship would be clinched. Before a delirious British contingent, Hill won by a narrow margin from Schumacher's Ferrari. Prior to Hill's magnificent year for Williams, however, had come the announcement that Frank Williams had dispensed with Hill's place on the Williams team for 1997. (WILLIAM C. BODDY)

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