© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2002
U.S. FIGURE SKATING SMACKDOWN: It was not as scandalous as, say, whacking somebody on the knee with a tire iron. But last weekend's U.S. Figure Skating Championships did have a small dose of intrigue.
The final six athletes in the women's long program were given six minutes to warm up on the ice before the competition continued. That was not unusual. What was odd was Sasha Cohen nearly had several collisions with other skaters while everyone was practicing jumps.
Cohen dismissed the near mishaps as routine. Michelle Kwan did not complain, but she did stay on the ice an extra minute because she had not been able to practice all of her jumps.
It was suggested that Cohen, who has a fierce streak of independence, might have been playing psychological games.
"There are six skaters on the ice, and everyone is in their own zone, working on their own jumps," Kwan said. "I took the time I needed to get as comfortable as I could."
COMING SOON: LUGE SPITTOONS: The U.S. Luge team has taken a page out of NASCAR's marketing schemes. The team unveiled new helmets for a World Cup series event in Latvia. The helmets feature a stars and stripes patriotic theme.
The design was conceived by Gary Hess, who has created helmets for NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd among others.
An unpainted helmet retails at $200. A custom-painted one goes for about $600.
YOU STILL HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE AT CRACKER BARREL: Wondering what you're going to do after the Super Bowl? Worried that spring training won't start on time? Already tired of the NBA season?
Have we got a deal for you.
Tickets remain for some high-profile events at the Salt Lake City Games. Want to go to the women's hockey gold-medal game? Done. Just fork over $250. How about the men's hockey semifinals? Cheap seats available at $225 or, if you're feeling frisky, lower-level seats at $325.
Women's speed-skating final, men's figure skating short program, curling and numerous other events also remain on sale.
The hardest tickets at this point include skiing and bobsled, although they are available through brokers.
To get an idea of what is available, head to the official Olympics Web site at www.saltlake2002.com. From there, you can figure out exactly where $885 will put you in the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 8.
-- Compiled by John Romano from staff and wire reports.