VANCOUVER, British Columbia — German speedskater Anna Friesinger-Postma managed to capture virtually every human emotion in the space of five crazy seconds at the end of the women's team pursuit semifinal.
When Friesinger-Postma broke a skate on the final lap as the Germans battled against the United States, it looked as if her dreams of Olympic gold would be dashed.
The 33-year-old initially stumbled, then fell headfirst onto the ice as her skate wobbled beneath her, before sliding over the line on her stomach.
"I thought, 'No, no, I'm falling. Oh no, oh no no no,' " Friesinger-Postma said. "I thought I missed up for the team."
Banging the ice in fury and lying face down on the surface of the Richmond Olympic Oval, Friesinger-Postma eventually glanced up at the scoreboard and realized her misfortune did not matter — with the Germans having squeezed home by six-hundredths of a second.
"It was a pretty spectacular crash," Team USA's Jen Rodriguez said. "I knew we had some time to make up, so I wasn't that confident. Anni was smart enough to swing her skate around and get it over the line just in time."
Friesinger-Postma's desperation dive put the Germans into the gold-medal race, where they produced another spectacular finish despite resting the fallen veteran to edge Japan by three one-hundredths of a second.
"Anni's fall gave us the courage to go on," German team leader Daniela Anschutz Thoms said.