Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Flames and Flickers: Fiji team starts at a party
ESPN.com news services
PARK CITY, Utah -- While celebrating his 50th birthday with a few friends in the replica of a Swiss chalet he owns in Fiji, Toni Hauswirth had a tropical brainstorm.
"Maybe we should create a ski team in Fiji," he said.
Say what? A ski team in a South Sea paradise, where the temperature averages near 80 degrees year-round and the only ice is found in cocktail glasses.
"There was a lot of alcohol involved," Hauswirth said of those who came up with the idea that December night in 1998.
Three years later, 21-year-old Laurence Thoms carried the Fijian flag into the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake City Olympics, the first and only athlete from the island nation to participate in the Winter Games.
"I felt pretty stunned," Thoms said. "All those people. It was quite unusual."
Thoms, who took up skiing less than four years ago, will compete in the giant slalom Thursday and the slalom Saturday.
Hauswirth, who was born in Switzerland and oversees a pharmaceutical distribution operation in South Korea, walked with the tiny Fiji delegation at the opening ceremony as the official representative of that country's government. As he heard the cheers, he had to smile that he'd pulled it off.
"I'm like that," he said. "If I have something in my head, I usually get it done, but it was a little crazy. I admit that."
Belarusian decides to stay awhile
Problem was, he didn't tell his delegation he was staying.
Lyskovec was last seen by teammates Sunday, sending officials scurrying Monday when he didn't show up to meet his coach for their flight home.
The team reported him missing to the FBI and local police.
"We found that he was not in the village three or four hours before the departure," said delegation administrator Natalia Kotlyarova. "Then we were waiting for him at the airport, hoping he'd come. We called his wife, but she also had no idea."
His wife finally solved the mystery. Police spoke to her Tuesday and she said her husband had called to tell her he was remaining in the United States for a few months.
Lyskovec was 42nd in the 90-meter individual jumps on Feb. 10 and failed to qualify in the 120-meter two days later.
Olympics not enough for Swedish female goalie
"I'm going to be the first girl in the Swedish Elite League," Martin says, referring to Europe's premier men's hockey league. "To play with the best guys would really be cool."
Martin, the starter for the national team most of this season, made her club debut for the Swedish women's team of AIK at age 13.
She tired of the women's league after three years and has played only three AIK games this winter, instead spending most of the season with Hammarby boys' team.
"It's fun to play with the boys. They shoot so much harder," says Martin, whose father, Fleming, coaches Hammarby's goalies.
Help from home
As Derek Parra skated to a gold medal in the 1,500-meter speedskating race, his wife Tiffany cheered wildly in the stands.
Afterward, she was quick to credit the person who made it possible for her to be there.
Tiffany's sister, Heather Stephens, was back home in Florida watching their 2-month-old daughter, Mia Elizabeth.
"She's been my rock," Tiffany said of her sister.
Police haul in tons of fake goods
"We're making a significant dent in the Olympic trafficking," U.S. Customs Service agent Donald Daufenbach said Wednesday.
The haul includes tens of thousands of knockoff Olympic pins, much of it manufactured in Asia. Agents for the Customs Service and FBI got the goods from 58 seizures at U.S. ports and from Salt Lake City street vendors since the Winter Olympics opened 12 days ago.
The FBI has executed four search warrants as part of criminal investigations, though no arrests have been made so far. Selling counterfeit Olympic goods is a federal crime punishable by up to $2 million in fines and 10 years in prison.
In a show-and-tell session Wednesday, Customs officials displayed a tiny fraction of their loot. They covered a table with heavy bags of unlicensed Olympic pins, many of them poorly crafted, as well as hats, pillows, fleece vests, T-shirts and leather goods.