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German sleds lead, Dutchwomen crash

German sleds lead, Dutchwomen crash
By Reuters

20/02/2006 at 21:15Updated

A crash by the Dutch women's bobsleigh team, whose sled rolled over and crossed the finishing line upside down, drew the limelight from Germany's top two spots in the first day of competition at the Winter Olympics on Monday.

The Netherlands I sled, driven by Ilse Broeders, flipped on its side coming out the 14th of the Cesana track's 19 curves in the first of the day's two runs.

The bright orange bob kept sliding down the ice and then rolled over, reaching the finish upside down.

When it finally stopped, Broeders and brakewoman Jeannette Pennings, whose helmets had been dragging along the ice, were able to get out of the sled and walk away.

Pennings complained of a sore shoulder and Broeders of bruises but neither appeared to have sustained any serious injury. The pair did not start the second run.

FIRST CRASH

There had been no crash until then in the bobsleigh competition. The luge events on the same Cesana track were marred by several spills.

A track record in the first run helped Sandra Kiriasis, a silver medallist as Sandra Prokoff when women's bobsleigh made its Olympic debut four years ago in Salt Lake City, and brakewoman Anja Schneiderheinze secure pole position halfway through.

After the first two runs, the Germany II bob driven by 2002 bronze medallist Susi Erdmann was in second position, 0.08 second back.

The United States I sled driven by Shauna Rohbock was in third place, a slim 0.01 second behind the second German bob.

Helen Upperton's Canada I also remained in contention for a medal in fourth place, 0.21 second off the pace before Tuesday's final two, medal-deciding runs.

American brakewoman Vonetta Flowers, who won the inaugral gold medal in 2002 with Jill Bakken and is competing here with a different driver in Jean Prahm, faced a struggle to win a medal.

Her United States II sled lost considerable time with an error-ridden first run and ended the day in ninth place, a huge 0.71 second off the lead.

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