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Skater Hedrick Wins First U.S. Gold Medal

Chad Hedrick of the United States won the 5,000 meters Saturday, the first of five speedskating golds he is seeking at the Turin Olympics. The medal is the first for the United States.

Michael Greis of Germany won the first gold medal of the Games, pushing favorite Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into second place in the 20-kilometer biathlon, while Germany's Georg Hettich won the Nordic combined individual event.

Canadian Jennifer Heil won the gold medal in Olympic moguls, while the American women were shut out Saturday, a surprising result for the world's deepest team.

Heil, skiing the last run of the day, earned 26.5 points, enough to beat defending champion Kari Traa of Norway by 0.85. Sandra Laoura of France won the bronze.

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The brash-talking Hedrick, a Texan, skated the grueling 12 1/2 laps in 6 minutes, 14.68 seconds, about 17 hours after marching in the opening ceremony of his first games.

With first lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara cheering him, Hedrick pumped his right fist and yelled "Whoo!" on his cool-down lap. The predominantly orange-clad Dutch crowd applauded him and tossed Hedrick an orange cap.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands earned the silver in 6:16.40. Enrico Fabris of Italy, skating in the final pair, delighted the hometown fans by taking bronze in 6:18.25.

In the biathlon, Bjoerndalen started the biathlon as the strong favorite, but the Norwegian missed two shots early in his run. He would have won if he had not missed one of those shots.

Instead, the defending champion's misses relegated him to silver and jeopardized his quest to become the top gold medal winner in Winter Olympic history.

Greis missed only once, on his first round of standing shots, on his way to gold in 54 minutes, 23 seconds, 16 seconds ahead of Bjoerndalen.

Halvard Hanevold of Norway took third, 1:08.9 behind Greis.

The 32-year-old Bjoerndalen swept all four biathlon events four years ago at the Salt Lake City Games, adding to a gold he won in 1998 at Nagano.

This year, he aimed to go one better by competing in four individual races and a relay. He now needs to win his remaining four races to give him more Winter Games golds than any other athlete.

The current record for golds is held by another Norwegian, cross country skier Bjoern Daehlie, who reached eight golds in Nagano.

Bjoerndalen was not the only Olympian on a drive for five.

In the Nordic combined event, Georg Hettich of Germany took the lead after the ski jumping portion of the Nordic combined individual event.

Hettich had jumps of 101.5 and 104 meters on the normal hill for 262.5 points. Petter Tande of Norway was second with 262 points, followed by France's Jason Lamy Chappuis and Finland's Jaakko Tallus, who shared third place.

That gave Hettich a two-second head start over Tande in the 15-kilometer cross-country race that was to complete the event Saturday afternoon. Lamy Chappuis and Tallus were to start an additional 20 seconds back.

Also, Michelle Kwan took to the figure skating rink Saturday, but got off it again quicker than expected, cutting short her practice after struggling on several jumps.

The 25-year-old American Kwan was given a medical bye onto the U.S. team after a groin injury sidelined her for the national championships a month ago