Print and Go Back Winter 2002 [Print without images]

Saturday, February 23, 2002
Flames and Flickers: Albert's crashing finish news services

PARK CITY, Utah -- Prince Albert of Monaco, appearing in his fifth Olympics, crashed during the third run of four-man bobsled on Saturday and slid sideways across the finish line.

Driving the red Monaco-1, Prince Albert got too high on one of the curves on the lower part of the course and flipped the sled. As it toppled over, the prince's head slammed into one of the side walls as the sled began careening out of control.

He was unable to right the sled and it skittered past the finish line on its side, spraying snow and ice as it went. Prince Albert and his crew were helped from their sled by track personnel and appeared to be uninjured.

How to get noticed in Salt Lake City
It's not always easy getting noticed at an Olympics held in a city where every other person is wearing a USA team jacket or something else with the name Roots on it.

In a city where people seem to take pride in blending in, though, there are ways to stand out.

Other than body surfing in the mosh pit at the Olympic medals plaza or showing off multiple piercings in Temple Square, here are some of the best ways to attract attention during the Winter Games:

Wear a Silly Beret: Put on one of these Canadian-made U.S. berets and see how many looks you'll get -- except everyone else is wearing one, too. They're sure conversation starters, though, with proud wearers trading stories about how many hours they spent in the freezing cold outside the Roots clothing store waiting to get in to buy one of the precious $19.95 head toppers. They're also available on the Internet, but the odds are few people would want to be seen in their hometowns with these on their heads.

Be a skating judge: France's Marie-Reine Le Gougne might be the most famous judge since Lance Ito. And she didn't even have to wear a beret to get noticed. All Le Gougne did to get attention was vote for the Russian pair over the Canadian's in pairs figure skating, then make a dramatic proclamation that she was under pressure to vote for the Russians. Le Gougne, of course, later denied it all and flew back to France where it's considered completely acceptable to wear a beret.

Be a skating official: Ottavio Cinquanta got more air time in the Olympics than Bob Costas. As the skating soap operas played out, the International Skating Union president kept holding news conferences to explain figure skating judging. Unfortunately, he was about as understandable as the judging itself.

Skate carefully: Become Australia's first Winter Olympic gold medalist by skating merrily along waiting for everyone else to fall. It worked for Steven Bradbury, whose legs were so shot by the semifinals of the 1,000-meter short track speedskating final that he was praying for a crash. The strategy worked so well he used it in the final, where the only one behind him on the last lap was the Zamboni driver. Then Apolo Anton Ohno and the others crashed and Bradbury crossed the finish line to win the gold. Americans wouldn't know him even if he walked down the street with his gold medal around his neck, but Bradbury became an instant sensation Down Under.

Get on TV: Here's the deal: Wake up at 3 a.m., gather the family and drive up the mountain to Park City. Once there, make up some silly signs to get noticed, then stand shivering in the pre-dawn darkness and wait for Katie and Matt to come out. The reward? You'll be able to invite all your neighbors over to watch the videotape that proves you were on national TV for a split second of fame.

Have a large family (See get on TV): NBC loves Olympians with large families. On the "Today Show," they usually stack them all up in front of a fireplace and go around the room asking how it feels to be (name an athlete's) mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt ... etc. It helps if your athlete is a perky 16-year-old named Sarah Hughes who goes on to win a gold medal.

Hold an M-16 (or any other weapon): Nothing gets more attention at this Olympics than a gun. A Japanese cross-country coach found that out when he made the mistake of pointing an unloaded biathlon rifle in a hotel room in Heber City. The problems was, there were police next door who thought Kazunari Sasaki had evil intentions. Weapons drawn, they burst into Sasaki's room and he turned to them, still holding the rifle. Sasaki said he heard later that police could have shot him. "I'm so glad that they didn't," he said.

Be a skeleton racer from Ireland: It's hard to miss an athlete wearing an orange, green and white racing suit with a large green shamrock on his backside. That was Clifton Wrottesley, a skeleton racer from Ireland, who spent his own money to get to Salt Lake City but had the time of his life. Wrottesley finished fourth, barely missing Ireland's first Winter Games medal ever. He did show some ingenuity later by finding a way to get a pint of Guinness in Salt Lake City.

Be hairy: Colored hair usually works, especially if it is red, white and blue. Tristan Gale streaked her hair with the colors of the flag, added some sparkles and then streaked her way to a gold medal in skeleton. Russian hockey player Katia Pashkevitch did the same, though hers was white, red and blue for the Russian flag. Don't overlook Apolo Anton Ohno's soul patch on his lower lip, which is becoming so trendy in his hometown of Seattle that people were lining up for fake ones in his father's styling salon after his gold-medal speedskating win.

Carry a broom: Nothing beats a sport where you can buy your equipment at Home Depot. And, for medal-starved Britain, nothing beats the four Scottish housewives who swept their way to a gold medal in curling. The curling queens, as they have been dubbed, are the first British winter gold medalists in 18 years and are taking the nation by storm. One of the nation's biggest supermarket chains is even offering them a contract to promote floor cleaning products.

Look like Harry Potter: Simon Ammann of Switzerland, who won two gold medals in ski jumping, bears a striking resemblance to the fictional character. "It's true we do resemble each other. But I don't think there was a fairy wand waved over me," he said.

Yell a lot (or blame Canada): It worked for the Russians, who threw a temper tantrum and huffed and puffed that they would leave the Olympics. They didn't, of course, but all the bluster did take the country's mind off the fact it was having a miserable Olympics.

Skate the program of your life: Hughes did just that Thursday night, charming the country with the enthusiasm of a teen-ager who had nothing to lose. Even the skating judges couldn't mess this one up, giving Hughes a gold medal that thrilled everyone but some grumpy Russians.

-- The Associated Press

The prince, who has a severely pulled hamstring, looked annoyed as he walked to the finish area.

An IOC member since 1985, Prince Albert has hinted that this would be his final Olympics. He made his Olympic debut at Calgary in 1988 and has competed in the two- and four-man competitions.

Later, Slovakia-1, piloted by Milan Jagensak crashed in the same spot, and it too slid to the finish on its side. During Friday's first two heats, sleds from New Zealand and the Virgin Islands crashed in their first heats and didn't make second runs.

Drug chief: Doping issue 'vastly improved'
The problem of doping "appears vastly improved" at the Winter Olympics compared with previous major sports events, World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said Saturday.

As the IOC awaited word on what could be the first official doping case of the Salt Lake City Games, Pound said 3,600 out-of-competition tests over the last year had warned athletes they can't get away with using performance enhancers.

He also praised "increasingly strong athlete support for a level playing field, testing during the games themselves and a new anti-doping culture with strong International Olympic Committee support."

"The drug problem at the Salt Lake Olympics appears vastly improved over other major world and Olympic competitions," Pound said.

Pound, an IOC member from Canada, offered no statistics to support his contention. And while the Summer Olympics generally produce a handful of drug positives, the Winter Games are more immune to the problem. Only five drug cases have been confirmed since the first Winter Olympics in 1924, none in the past three games.

But winter sports have been hit hard by doping scandals in recent years, most notably the 2001 World Nordic Championships in Lahti, Finland, where six members of the host nation's cross-country ski team tested positive for drugs.

While there have been no official drug positives through the first 15 days in Salt Lake City, the games have not been immune from doping issues.

A short-track speedskater from Belarus was given a severe warning by the IOC on Friday for steroids found in her system, but the case was not considered a drug positive and she was allowed to remain in the Olympic Village and march in the closing ceremony.

Drivers' Ed for Hughes?
Now that Sarah Hughes has the gold medal she always wanted, she can start working on another big goal.

Getting her driver's license.

Kalle Palander
Almost, but not quite everything worked perfectly in Salt Lake City. Here, Finland's Kalle Palander slides into a course worker during the men's slalom.

The 16-year-old from Great Neck, N.Y., hasn't had time to get her license yet, not with all the hours she spends in training. She also has a three-hour roundtrip commute each day to the rink in Hackensack, N.J., with coach Robin Wagner doing the driving.

Wagner hopes her chauffeuring days will be over soon.

"I'm really hoping she learns to drive," Wagner said, laughing. "That's the next thing we're working on."

Brooks mellowing with age
Herb Brooks was disliked -- and beyond -- by some of his 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey players, unhappy with his motivational tactics and disciplinarian ways.

At least until they won the gold medal.

The NHL pros on the 2002 U.S. Olympic team can't say enough good things about their coach.

"I think he's the reason why we're here," said Tom Poti of the U.S. team, which plays Canada in Sunday's gold medal game.

"In 1980, I was more of a mentor, a surrogate teacher," Brooks said. "With this thing, I'm more of a conductor, trying to play off the players' thoughts."

Brooks denied he wants to parlay the U.S. team's run at the gold into another NHL coaching job. He previously coached the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins.

"If I wanted to, I'd be in Pittsburgh today," Brooks said.

He became the Penguins' coach after Kevin Constantine was fired in early December 1999. But he chose not to return the following season, mostly because his wife didn't want to relocate from their Minnesota home.

IOC honors announcer McKay
Jim McKay, who has covered 12 Olympics for three networks since 1960, received the International Olympic Committee's highest honor Saturday.

McKay was presented the Olympic Order, honoring those who have illustrated the Olympic ideals of fair play or rendered outstanding service to the Olympic cause.

He is working the Salt Lake City Games for NBC under a special arrangement with his regular network, ABC.

McKay, 79, did the Rome Games for CBS, then switched to ABC and covered 10 games, including the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he was the primary anchor on coverage of the killing of Israeli athletes and coaches by terrorists.

The IOC selected McKay for the award in 1998, but it was never presented until U.S. Olympic Committee president Sandy Baldwin draped it around his neck in a brief ceremony in NBC's Olympic complex.

The Highlander
The "Highlander" came flying down the mountain fast enough to win a medal.

Alain Baxter, a Scot who sometimes skis in a kilt, won Britain's first-ever Olympic medal on snow when he captured the slalom bronze Saturday.

"Unbelievable. I just don't understand. It's incredible," he said. "I thought I would be fourth or fifth -- but there you have it."

Born in Edinburgh, Baxter grew up in the Scottish resort of Aviemore in the Highlands, where his parents ran a ski school.

Baxter turned down a pro hockey contract so he could concentrate on skiing. He still plays hockey occasionally for the Perth Panthers in the Scottish first division.

Baxter, 28, joined the British ski squad when he was 17, but his best previous result was a fourth place in a World Cup event last year. He competed in Nagano in 1998, but his best finish was 31st in the giant slalom.

Before he began the competition here, Baxter had to re-dye his hair to blot out the cross of St. Andrew, a violation of Olympic rules forbidding displays of nationalism.

Following his bronze run Saturday, however, he got to wave a considerably larger Scottish flag.

Sign of unity
While the games have been marred by some discord, with Russia and South Korea threatening to pull out, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stressed the Olympics' unifying spirit.

"It's very, very important for us to focus on the way the world is united and the way people are united," during the games, Giuliani said. "It's not necessarily just winning, but overcoming difficulty ... and competing at the highest level."

Giuliani, honorary chairman of the Olympic spirit committee, is in Salt Lake City for the final weekend of the games.

Better than the real thing?
A South Korean book and electronic sales Web site claims to have raised $3,500 to buy short-track speedskater Kim Dong-sung a gold medal replica.

"Let's give Kim Dong-sung a true gold medal," was posted on the site, which claimed that hundreds of people have contributed.

Kim, a 1998 gold medalist in the 1,000 meters, crossed the line first Wednesday in the 1,500 meters, but was disqualified for illegally impeding American Apolo Anton Ohno, who was awarded the gold.

The decision outraged South Korean Olympic officials, whose protest was rejected.

Chung Jin-wook, who runs the Web site, said the campaigners plan to make a replica of an Olympic medal and present it to Kim when the Korean delegation returns home after Sunday's closing ceremony.

"We want to give a gold medal to a true winner of the match," Chung said. "We consider our campaign an expression of national pride and true sportsmanship."