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Flames and Flickers: Rumsfeld views his troops

2/20/2002

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.

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.