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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Where One American Fails, Another Succeeds

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- Donna Weinbrecht seemed like a lock.


The 1992 Olympic free-style skiing champion had won six straight World Cup races this year and was close to clinching the overall title. A serious knee injury suffered 15 months ago was just a distant memory.


So who was that American climbing up on the medal stand Wednesday? No, it was not Weinbrecht, whose quest for a second straight gold ended with a seventh-place finish.


It was Liz McIntyre, 28, who came to the Olympics with only an outside chance for a medal of any color. Maybe that is why she did not sound disappointed when her bouncy run through the gauntlet of moguls was only good enough for the silver behind Norway's Stine Lise Hattestad.


"I'm a happy camper," McIntrye said. "At the bottom, I didn't know whether I had won it, but I was happy with the way I skied."


So was Hattestad, who turned in a near flawless run to claim the gold in front of thousands of flag-waving, cowbell-ringing Norwegians -- then confirmed it would be her last season.


"I was really nervous, but I suppose I ski best when I am nervous," she said. "I think this is a good end."


McIntyre's silver turned out be the only medal the Americans won all day as Weinbrecht, the 1992 champion from Albertville when freestyle skiing made its Olympic debut, finished a disappointing seventh.


On the men's side, the defending champion also lost. Canadian Jean Luc-Brassard claimed the gold and Russia's Sergei Shupletsov slipped in for the silver ahead of Edgar Grospiron of France, the winner two years ago.


McIntyre was feeling some pressure after becoming the surprise top qualifier from Tuesday's first round. It was heightened when Hattestad, cheered on by her countrymen and buoyed by Weinbrecht's earlier poor showing, zoomed into the lead with the best two leaps of the competition and the second-fastest time of the day.


"I looked over at Lillehammer and at the sunshine and sort of relaxed," McIntyre said of her final run.


Then she pulled off two big leaps and attacked the hard-packed mounds of snow skillfully enough to earn the best style score of the day. But it was not good enough.


Hattestad's speed and all-round scoring carried her to gold, with Russian Yelizaveta Kozhevnikova taking the bronze.


In the men's competition, Brassard had the best score in qualifying and skied brilliantly in the final.


Grospiron, skiing next to last as second-best qualifier, was fastest down the course in 23.19 seconds and tied the best score for leaps. But his style points on turns were mediocre and he failed to beat Shupletsov's overall score of 26.90. With Brassard still to go, Grospiron, who had 26.64, knew he had lost his Olympic title.


But the Russian was to be denied, too.


Brassard's performance was almost immaculate, with four of the five judges giving him the maximum score on turns. His time was a modest 24.53 but his overall score, 27.24 points, was the best.