Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Winter 2002 [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Flames and Flickers: Rumsfeld views his troops

ESPN.com news services

SALT LAKE CITY -- A shoulder injury dashed the Olympic dreams of a young wrestler named Donald Rumsfeld. Now secretary of defense, his Olympic moment arrived Tuesday.

That's no belt buckle
my friend
The day after rallying with a dramatic final slalom run to capture a silver medal in the men's combined event, Bode Miller made a quick trip to Los Angeles to appear on the "Tonight Show" last week.

On his way back, the plane stopped at Las Vegas and Miller had to go through a security checkpoint. His publicist, Rodney Corey, had the silver medal in his pocket and set off the alarm.

So Corey took the medal out of his pocket and placed it in a plastic tray for inspection. Seeing the shiny object, a national guardsman told Corey: "Man, that's a cool belt buckle."

In Salt Lake City to visit troops helping in a $310 million security effort, Rumsfeld congratulated the soldiers and spent time with athletes.

Rumsfeld stood and applauded as U.S. speedskater Derek Parra won gold and broke a world record in the 1,500 meters. The medal gave the United States 20 medals at the games, meeting the goal set by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

After the race, Rumsfeld was so excited, he called his boss.

"I just got off the phone with the president," he said. "I told him there was a world record set and by an American. He was more than delighted."

Appeal denied for WTC tribute
PARK CITY, Utah -- New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris lost his appeal to use a sled that has a painting of the World Trade Center towers for his Olympic skeleton race, and said Tuesday he's having fun with the sled he borrowed.

Officials from the International Bobsled Federation and International Olympic Committee rejected his request, citing an IOC rule that bans "political, religious or racial propaganda" in Olympic competition areas.

"That's the way it's going to stand," said Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and races for Greece. "There's nothing to say because they made the ruling. Like in the military, where if an officer suggests something and it gets done."

Voudouris, 41, had hoped to honor victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent two days at Ground Zero treating injured and weary firefighters.

Samaranch says he's impressed
SALT LAKE CITY -- Juan Antonio Samaranch, famous for his closing ceremony ratings of Olympics during his 21 years as IOC president, has given Salt Lake City's Winter Games a perfect 6.0.

"These are wonderful Games, these are the best facilities I have ever seen," Samaranch, 81, told reporters. "If you are speaking (in figure skating terms) I will give a six to Salt Lake.

"Something that impressed me very much was the volunteers because they are very well-prepared, that is very important."

The Spaniard said the performance of Alexei Yagudin in the men's figure skating was his personal highlight of the Games so far, adding the extremely tight security in Salt Lake City after the September 11 attacks had come as a surprise.

"I think we were a bit surprised at the beginning because the security measures were a bit tough. But we understood very well and now they are going very smoothly."

No judges, or jumps, Heiden says
Eric Heiden, who won five speedskating golds at the 1980 Olympics, believes sports that need judges shouldn't be in the Olympics -- and he isn't crazy about some of the games' newer events.

Such as freestyle skiing aerials.

"The consequences of a poor jumper are drastic. I worry about introducing some of these sports with a high risk factor," said Heiden, an orthopedic surgeon who serves as a team doctor for the U.S. speedskaters.

That's right, Australia 2, Austria 1
No typo, that's sun-splashed Australia with two Winter Olympics golds, alpine-ed Austria with one.

"That's awesome," Alisa Camplin said. "We're a summer country, a sunny country. But this is amazing."

Camplin won the women's freestyle aerials Monday to give the Aussies a second Olympic gold medal in three days.

Australia had never won a Winter Olympic gold until Steven Bradbury, in the easiest victory of the games, skated past the wreckage of four faster rivals to take the 1,000-meter speedskating title Saturday night.

Australia's only two medals so far are gold; winter sports power Austria has 13 medals at these games.

Kwan leads the way
Fan e-mail has been pouring in for Michelle Kwan, who has received a games-high 1,867 electronic well-wishes.

She and the other American figure skaters have been the most popular athletes with online fans. Todd Eldredge has received 1,377, Timothy Goebel 1,064, Sarah Hughes 933 and Sasha Cohen 890.