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Flames and Flickers: Albert's crashing finish

2/24/2002

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.

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.

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 Morning365.com 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."