American Snowboarders Taking Over

(SALT LAKE CITY, February 12th, 2002, 3 p.m.) -- In a sport that has yet to gain mainstream support, three American snowboarders did what no trio of U.S. athletes have done in 45 years: they won all three medals in the men's halfpipe competition.

"This is going to be huge in the states," said U.S. snowboard gold medalist Ross Powers. "There could be a pretty big party in Park City tonight, that is for sure," said Danny Kass, U.S. snowboard silver medalist.

But the scandal of the night came when Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won silver, not gold, despite a near flawless performance. "Our silver medal is worth gold to us," said Sale.

Fighting back tears, the Canadians sat side-by-side with the Russian gold medalists. "It's tough, it's tough," said Pelletier.

The crowd booed and accused judges of trading votes. Russian or Soviet pairs have won this competition for the last 40 years. "When you go out and give the performance that deserves the gold medal around your neck, then by golly give it to them and don't make it a political game." said Elizabeth Manley, 1988 Figure Skating silver medalist.

In luge, an Italian took the gold from Germany, Georg Hackl, who has won the last three. And American Adam Heidt's fourth place finish was the best ever for an American.

Meantime, favored speedskater and Nagano silver medalist Jeremy Witherspoon fell shortly after starting the qualifying round, knocking himself out of competition.

Americans took three of the top 7 spots.