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Griffall, Joye nab final luge doubles spot

12/21/2005

Patrick Quinn spent 30 years hoping to be an Olympian. He fell
short by about one-eighth of a second.

Quinn's chances of being named to the U.S. Olympic luge team
ended Wednesday, when he and teammate Christian Niccum were
defeated by Preston Griffall and Dan Joye in a close race-off for
the final doubles spot on the American roster for the Turin Games.

Griffall and Joye had a combined two-run time that was 0.12
seconds faster than Quinn and Niccum, earning them the shot to join
two-time Olympic medalists Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin as the
U.S. doubles representatives.

"As soon as I finished my last run, I was screaming my head
off,'' Joye said. "It was so close. When Niccum and Quinn went
down, they put a really good run their last run. ... And when I saw
that clock, I just started screaming.''

Niccum will go to Turin as a singles slider. But the 39-year-old
Quinn -- a sports agent who represents Niccum and a number of other
U.S. athletes -- will not compete in Italy, ending a dream that
started in his childhood of being an Olympic hockey player,
followed by unsuccessful bids to make the U.S. speedskating team
for the 1998 and 2002 Games.

"The truth is, I'm crushed. It's a huge disappointment,'' said
Quinn, who hasn't ruled out trying again in 2010. "But I've been
knocked down before. I'll get up and it'll be OK. This is not one
of life's major catastrophes. This is not Hurricane Katrina. I put
it out there to have a chance to succeed, and with that comes a
chance to be disappointed.''

Niccum and Quinn, who have raced together for only two seasons,
had the fastest time in the first run of last weekend's World Cup
race in Lake Placid and went on to finish fourth overall in that
event -- forcing the race-off.

"We delivered there when we needed to,'' Quinn said. "I had
the greatest athletic moment of my life there. And these two
events, that's the texture of life, the richness of it, the highs
and lows that I've been very fortunate to have.''

Griffall and Joye led by 0.094 seconds after Wednesday's first
run, but Niccum and Quinn finished their second slide in 44.608
seconds -- 0.162 faster than Griffall and Joye's opening time and
putting plenty of pressure on the young duo.

"We've been sliding together for seven years. It's been a long
time coming,'' Griffall said. "We're still young, but this is what
we've been working for since day one and finally we get our
chance.''

Undeterred, Griffall and Joye clocked a second-run time of
44.582 -- enough to send them to Turin.

"Preston and Dan had the best race of their life today when
they needed it,'' Quinn said. "I give them a huge amount of
credit. We didn't fumble the ball here. They played a great game,
too.''

Also decided Wednesday was the final men's singles spot, with
Jonathan Myles beating 17-year-old Chris Mazdzer -- his roommate --
by 0.161 seconds in their two-run raceoff.

"I feel like Chris is my little brother and I hate it for him
that he didn't make it,'' said the 23-year-old Myles, who lost a
race-off that decided a spot on the 2002 Olympic team "But that's
the nature of the sport.''

Myles and Niccum will join medal hopeful Tony Benshoof in men's
singles at the Olympics. Benshoof was the lone American to qualify
based on his World Cup performances this season.

The U.S. women's team, finalized last week, will consist of
Samantha Retrosi, Erin Hamlin and Courtney Zablocki.