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Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Defending champ Kraushaar fastest in first heat

Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah -- Defending Olympic champion Silke Kraushaar and German teammates Barbara Niedernhuber and Sylke Otto led the women's luge after the first heat on Tuesday.

Kraushaar zoomed down the short 12-turn course in 43.294 seconds, just .003 of a second off the track record she set last year in the Olympic test race.

Niedernhuber, who won silver four years ago at the Nagano Games, was second in 43.346. Otto, the two-time defending world champion, was third in 43.356.

Becky Wilczak, of River Forest, Ill., was fourth in 43.509. Ashley Hayden, of Westborough, Mass., was sixth in 43.765. Courtney Zablocki, of Highlands Ranch, Colo. was 13th in 43.934.

Iginia Boccalandro of Venezuela had a violent crash on her first run, didn't finish, and was disqualified.

Boccalandro lost control of her sled on the last three turns, glanced off one wall, flew back across the track and slammed the other wall as she continued to careen down the ice. Another violent collision sent her legs flying above the wall.

Boccalandro then landed face-down on the track and slid headfirst for over 30 yards, her green racing suit in tatters as she lay motionless. After a couple of minutes, however, she sat up and slowly climbed off the track.

Boccalandro, the first female to represent Venezuela in luge, finished 28th at Nagano.