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The United States is off to a weak start in the 17th Winter Unive

February 24, 1995

JACA, Spain (AP) _ The United States is off to a weak start in the 17th Winter University Games.

The Americans had two golds and four medals overall Thursday through 18 events and might not match their low-water mark of seven they won in the 1987 games. They won 15 overall and five golds to finish behind Japan and Russia in the 1993 medal totals.

Russia has five golds and seven overall to lead this year’s medal table. Japan has only one gold, but has won eight overall medals. And both the Russians and Japanese are showing strength in all of the events, not just on the ice like the Americans.

The Americans’ strongest event so far has been the demonstration sports of snowboarding, where they won six of the 12 medals offered. But the snowboard medals don’t count in the official medal table.

``We wish they would count snowboarding, at least it would make us look better on paper,″ said Doug Ingram, head of the U.S. delegation. ``What we’re looking for in this kind of event is giving some of our young, upcoming athletes international experience. If a medal comes out of it, so much the better.″

If will probably have to come in short-track speedstaking if the Americans are to put on a surge in the last two days of competition. The first four U.S. medals came in figure skating.

The Alpine and Nordic events have been a washout _ though the men and women’s downhill might produce a surprise U.S. medal.

Thursday was a day when the Americans should have won at least one medal and didn’t. But nobody seemed overly upset, a reflection of the low-key approach here.

Eric Flaim, a silver-medal winner in the 1994 Winter Olympics, lost out in qualifying round heats in both the 1,500 and 500-meter. John Coyle, also an Olympic silver medalist, was disqualified in the short, unpredictable 500.

Karen Cashman, an Olympic bronze medalist and arguably the top American woman, also didn’t score Thursday.

Thursday’s skating belonged to unsung Canadian Andrew Quinn, an upset winner in 500 meters against the powerful South Korean and Chinese teams.

South Korea’s Lee Kyung Chun, 19, set a world record at 1,500 meters, clocking 2 minutes, 27.38 seconds to top the mark of 2:31.36 set by South Korean So Hee Kim in 1994.

Chun is also the Olympic gold medalist and world champion at 500.

Of the 12 medals Thursday in short-track, the South Koreans and Chinese each won five, with the other two going to Canada.

The Canadians, short-track’s No. 1 world power, brought none of their top skaters to the games, saving them for the trials for next month’s world championships in Norway. China and South Korea had nearly all of their top skaters.

``This is their B or C team and they still won two medals,″ U.S. coach Patrick Wentland said.

Quinn, 21, who just came off what he termed a ``terrible season,″ shaved his red hair about three months ago for a meet in British Columbia and also began reading books on controlling his nemesis _ stress.

``I won at that meet and decided to keep the hair like this,″ said Quinn, who also wears a short goatee. ``I have to learn to relax. You have to be relaxed or it just doesn’t work.″

The Canadian clocked a time of 44.40, with silver to Korea’s Sae Woo Park and bronze for teammate Jae Kun Song.

In addition to Chun’s world record, she also took bronze in the 500. The Koreans also won the men’s 1,500 with gold for Ji Hon Chae. Li Jianjun of China was second and Canadian Francois Drolet took third.

China won the women’s 500 with gold for Zhang Dong Ixiang, who also won silver in the 1,500.

The Czech Republic upset Russia 4-3 in hockey to move into Saturday’s championship game against Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan defeated Finland 4-2 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

In other medal events Thursday, Sweden’s Anders Wiggerud won the giant slalom with a two-run time of 2:14.25. Silver went to Joji Kawaguchi of Japan and Gian Luca Grigoleto of Italy won bronze.

Nordic combined went to Belarus’ Serguei Zakharenko, with Japanese Kazuyoshi Yamada and Futoshi Otake taking silver and bronze.

Today’s schedule included short-track, women’s 15-kilometer cross-country, women’s slalom and team ski-jumping.

The nine-day games opened Saturday with a record 800 athletes from more than 40 countries expected. The Winter University Games are open to both amateur and professional athletes ages 17 to 28.

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