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Monday, February 11, 2002
Flames and Flickers: A bizarro midair arrest

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- An airline passenger who allegedly got up to go the bathroom less than 30 minutes before landing became the first person arrested under a new federal flight regulation adopted for the Olympics.

Richard Bizarro, 59, could get up to 20 years in prison on charges of interfering with a flight crew.

Bizarro was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles on Saturday when he allegedly left his seat 25 minutes before landing, despite two warnings from the captain to the 90 passengers to stay put as required under the 30-minute rule adopted for Salt Lake City by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Air marshals aboard the plane ordered all passengers to put their hands on their heads for the rest of the flight.

Bizarro, of Park City, was jailed overnight and released on his own recognizance. Messages left with his attorney and at his home were not returned Monday.

Authorities said a flight attendant instructed Bizarro to return to his seat immediately after he left the bathroom. She said Bizarro, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, ignored her orders and stared at her for about a minute before returning to his seat, according to the FBI.

Two of three undercover air marshals on board saw what happened, the FBI said. One of the agents said he saw Bizarro give what appeared to be a "thumbs up" to another passenger as he returned to his seat, prompting the marshals to take control of the cabin.

NBC blowing smoke with TV 'fireplace'
This Olympic flame is a fake.

Peer past daytime host Hannah Storm or prime-time host Bob Costas during NBC's coverage of the Salt Lake City Games, and there's no way to miss the fireplace on the well-manicured set.

Turns out, though, that the fire lending the network's studio segments such a warm and cozy feel as it flickers so perfectly is not really there.

It's a video of a fire (replete with wafting smoke) that NBC tried its best to make look real.

In its quest to package the perfect viewing experience for the millions of Americans watching the Olympics each day over these 2½ weeks, the network spruced things up a bit.

The Associated Press asked how the contraption works.

"Our fireplace is truly one of the great mysteries of television," NBC Sports VP Kevin Sullivan said with a laugh Monday, but he wouldn't comment further.

Perhaps someone just figured it would be good if Costas could say, as he did Saturday night, "Here's our special correspondent, Jim McKay, for the first of several fireside chats," without anyone having to go through the trouble of collecting kindling.

If nothing else, the use of video means Costas and Storm don't need to worry about closing the flue at the end of their shifts. And there's no danger of a script being burned.

(Actually, the luxuriousness of NBC's main set sparks sympathy for Jim Lampley, whose CNBC Olympic studio doesn't appear to have enough leg room, much less fancy fixtures, faux or otherwise.)

Ex-USOC head aims for alliance with official linked to scandal
SALT LAKE CITY -- The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee when the Salt Lake City scandal broke is about to become vice president of an international sports group led by a powerful South Korean implicated in the case.

Former USOC president Bill Hybl has been offered the vice presidency of the International Taekwondo Federation, a source with knowledge of the offer said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In addition, Hybl was instrumental in helping his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo., win this year's meeting of the General Association of International Sports Federations, the umbrella organization of Olympic sports.

Both the federation and GAISF are run by Kim Un-yong, an International Olympic Committee member who was censured in the million-dollar scam involving Salt Lake City's winning bid for the Winter Olympics.

An IOC ethics panel handed Kim a "most severe" warning three years ago after it concluded he had used his position in international sports to further the careers of his son and daughter.

Hybl, whose own term on the IOC expired last week, declined to discuss a position with the taekwondo federation. However, he said he was involved in helping the United States gain more leadership in international sports groups, and he saw no problem in an alliance with Kim.

"I must tell you that the sport under his leadership has achieved a great presence," Hybl said. "He deserves a lot of credit."

If at first you don't succeed ...
SALT LAKE CITY -- He fell early and lost his sunglasses, then got cramps and nearly threw up before pulling out less than halfway through the 30-kilometer cross-country ski race.

Undaunted, Drexel engineering professor Prawat Nagvajara will give it another go next week.

Thailand's first athlete in the Winter Games, Nagvajara believes he'll go the distance in the 1.5-kilometer sprint.

"I'll have fun. I'll finish this for sure," he said.

Nagvajara, 43, was duly impressed by the other skiers Saturday.

"They were very fast, much faster than I thought they'd be," he said. "I thought let's not interrupt the race, let's get out at the right spot."

Nagvajara said officials asked before the games if he would prefer to do the 1.5-kilometer race, but he wanted to try the 30-kilometer event. He decided if he couldn't finish the longer race, then he would also enter the sprint, scheduled Feb. 19.

Nagvajara says he, his wife and their 2-year-old son are enjoying themselves in Salt Lake City. He intends to go to all the cross-country skiing events and said, "I want to go see the bobsled, they're really nice guys."

Utah cowbell opens New York Stock Exchange
When the cowbell rang, traders began frantically bidding, buying and selling -- 2,200 miles away on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

In Wall Street's nod to the Olympics, Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, NYSE president Cathy Kinney and Questar Corp. CEO Don Cash rang the opening bell via satellite from Salt Lake City.

Traders in New York watched a video feed as the trio rang the foot-high cowbell decorated with Olympic insignia.

It was only the third time that the opening bell was rung outside New York, and the first time a cowbell sent the New Yorkers scurrying about their business.

Ready ... aim ... fire!
If goaltender Natalya Trunova felt like she had a bulls-eye painted on her forehead Monday, she had good reason. The goaltender for Kazakstan made 59 saves against Canada in their first-round hockey game.

Trunova's long day of swatting and smothering and blocking the puck still wasn't enough -- Canada won 7-0. Kazakstan got off just 11 shots at Canadian goalie Kim St. Pierre.

Two thumbs up
German Interior Minister Otto Schily gave the Olympics a good review so far, even saying the security was not only perfect but "friendly." His overall assessment of the games: "Two thumbs up and a big thanks to our American friends."

Next stop, Colorado
A major international sports meeting is coming to the home city of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The General Association of International Sports Federations, the umbrella group for Olympic sports, awarded this year's convention to Colorado Springs, Colo. The meeting will be Nov. 21-24.