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Street aims for American record
Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 11, 2002
SNOWBASIN, Utah -- Picabo Street, 30, will try to win gold in the women's downhill today. It would be her third straight Olympics with a medal. It would be her first after a brutal fall left her with a ruined right knee and a broken left leg after the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
But her legs are fine, and she's anxious and excited about skiing in today's downhill, which is her only race barring injury to one of her four teammates slated for the super G.
"I believe in destiny," said Street, who was first in Saturday's training run and seventh Sunday.
"I didn't want to walk out of here with the heat on my shoulders like I did (Saturday). So it's like, let everybody else lose sleep tonight."
Street already has established herself as a great Olympian. If she medals today, she would be the first American athlete to win three medals in Alpine skiing.
"If it works out and I win a medal, fine," Street said. "If my best isn't fast enough to beat the world, then what stronger message can come than, 'Hey, it's time to hang it up and go find something else to do.' "
SHOULD'VE BEEN A ROCK STAR: The medals plaza was packed with more than 18,000 for the first presentation ceremonies, and silver-winning speed skater Derek Parra realized all the fans were not there to see athletes.
"We're not sure if they're here for us or for the band," Parra said as the Dave Matthews Band blared on stage.
Parra received a loud ovation when he received his medal Saturday night. The crowd cheered even louder when Matthews was introduced.
WHEN ROYALTY CALLS: The king phoned, but Johann Muehlegg couldn't take the call. Muehlegg, a German-born, naturalized citizen of Spain, received an honor few Spaniards have: a congratulatory call from King Juan Carlos.
Muehlegg was in the drug testing area at the time. He won gold in the 30-meter cross-country, Spain's third medal ever in the Winter Games and its second gold.
"I'm really sorry I missed the call, but it was a tremendous honor that he tried," Muehlegg said.
He did receive a telegram from the king saying, "This is a very important victory for Spanish sports."
STRONG RATINGS: NBC's ratings momentum, which began Friday with a record for an Opening Ceremony, continued Saturday night with a 17.1 Nielsen rating, a 39 percent increase over CBS' 12.3 four years ago at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. An estimated 60-million viewers watched.
THREE TOO MANY: Speed skater Chris Witty, the only American to win two medals at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, may drop her weakest event to focus on two other races. Witty has been slowed by mononucleosis, which was diagnosed a month ago and is hampering her training. She is scheduled to skate the 500, 1,000 and 1,500, but may skip the shortest race.
Four years ago, Witty won silver in the 1,000 and bronze in the 1,500. She also raced the 500, finishing 10th.
THOUGHT THAT COUNTS: Residents of a Salt Lake City condominium complex chipped in $11 each for 200 flags from 90 different nations so they could display them as a goodwill gesture. Two Taiwanese flags instead brought complaints and a visit from Chinese diplomats.
Though Taiwan competes, its national flag is banned at events under a long-established agreement to placate China. Officials from China's Washington embassy visited the complex, about a half mile from the medals plaza, and asked that the Taiwanese flags be removed.
"It took a couple of times for them to understand that this is private residence, not a government building," resident Annetta Mower said. "We thought the idea of the flags was exciting. We had no idea that it would raise any kind of controversy."
Mower said residents do not intend to remove any flags. Embassy First Secretary Dizhong Huang said Chinese officials, recognizing the right of private citizens in the United States to fly any flag they want, will not pursue a complaint.
WHO NEEDS A MEDAL: David Wallechinsky, whose books of results and tidbits have become some of the most widely used references to the Olympics, was awarded the IOC's highest honor. The American author was among four recipients of the Olympic Order. Others were veteran U.S. Committee member Irwin Belk, Australian Committee vice president Peter Montgomery and IOC medical commission member Dr. Eduardo Henrique de Rose. The order is awarded to those who illustrate Olympic values through their achievements and contributions to sports.
IT'S A STICKUP: Souvenir pins have been causing a fan jam at some security checkpoints, as the fingernail-sized lapel pins can set off metal detectors. To speed up the process, fans are given small plastic bags to stash their pin collection while they clear security.
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