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Cathy Turner


She cried, she laughed, she came and went in her return to Olympic speedskating Tuesday night.

That was it.

About 4-1/2 minutes as a member of the United States’ 3,000-meter short-track relay team that was eliminated in a semifinal heat.

About 4-1/2 more as the team came back to win a consolation heat, finishing fifth overall.

Hardly time to provoke an international incident in what is being called the last peace festival of the 20th century.

No medal and no controversy - both significant developments in that controversy hounded her medal-winning career as America’s most successful short-track performer.

Indeed, Cathy Turner could jam like no other in a sport resembling roller derby on ice, but she had little chance Tuesday in what was her only chance of these Olympics.

Was it worth coming out of retirement?

“I feel like I challenged myself and succeeded,” she said, having teamed at 35 with two teenagers and a 26-year-old.

“If this was strictly about gold medals, I would never have quit. Just to be here, back in the Olympics, is unbelievable. I mean, one minute I’m crying and the next I’m laughing. I had a ball out there.”

The U.S. was last off the line in its semifinal heat and never recovered. It was the first time since short track became a medal sport in 1992 that U.S. women didn’t medal in the relay.

Turner was bidding to become the second U.S. woman to win five medals in the Winter Games, joining Bonnie Blair, who won six, but the U.S. was in the more difficult heat.

South Korea won it and went on to defend the Olympic crown it won in 1994. China also came out of the U.S. heat to take the silver. Canada won the bronze.

Turner’s familiar shoot-from-the-lip style emerged when asked about the difficult heat.

“I enjoyed it,” she said. “I’m not the type person who’s afraid of anybody, but I think the other girls were intimidated by that - and I know our coaches were.”