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2002 Winter Olympics

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 8, 2001


WHEN: Feb. 8-24.

WHERE: In and around Salt Lake City.

THE GAMES: About 2,400 athletes in 15 sports will compete at 10 venues. For the first time, skeleton -- a name derived from the skeletal shape of the metal sled used -- will appear in the Olympics. Skeleton athletes ride down the track headfirst and face down using the same track as the bobsled. Women's bobsled also debuts.

TICKETS: The initial sale to the American public ended Dec. 12, and most events are sold out. For information on premium ticket programs (priced above face value), hotel and ticket packages, and single tickets that will go on sale this spring, call (877) 222-2802 or visit http://www.saltlake2002.com.

TORCH RELAY: It will cover 13,500 miles through 46 states starting Dec. 4 in Atlanta. Unlike with the Atlanta Games in 1996, the torch will skip the Tampa Bay area, traveling from Jacksonville to Miami on Dec. 7-8, then being flown from Miami to Mobile, Ala.

WEB SITES: Follow the latest news at http://www.saltlake2002.com (Salt Lake Organizing Committee); http://www.saltlakeinfo.org (visitor information); http://www.usoc.org (U.S. Olympic Committee); http://www.nbcolympics.com (NBC); and http://www.sltrib.com (Salt Lake Tribune, click "2002 Olympics").

READY OR NOT?: Now that much of the bidding scandal is behind them, Salt Lake organizers are proceeding as planned. All but one of the 10 permanent venues are finished. Jean-Claude Killy, the president of Albertville's organizers for the 1992 Winter Games, told the Salt Lake Tribune this week, "They are better prepared -- readier -- than anybody else I have been in contact with." The last time the United States hosted a Winter Games, in 1980 at Lake Placid, N.Y., the year-away forecast was dire, with political problems, cost overruns and construction delays plaguing preparations.

IF YOU'RE GOING: Tickets were mailed Monday to those who ordered them. If you haven't already reserved rooms, do it now. Rooms reportedly are going for between $150 and $3,000 a night, and are scarce. Also, though Utah has relaxed its alcohol laws in recent years, among the things to be aware of: You have to ask for a wine list in a restaurant -- it won't be given -- and beer sold at grocery stores has a lower alcohol content.

U.S. athletes to watch

Women

TRICIA BYRNES, SNOWBOARDING: Byrnes, 26, has 13 World Cup victories since 1997 and was the 2000 Goodwill Games halfpipe champion. She finished second in the 2000 World Cup halfpipe standings.

MICHELLE KWAN, FIGURE SKATING: Kwan, 20, was barely edged out for the gold medal at Nagano in 1998 by Tara Lipinski. A three-time world champion and five-time U.S. champion, Kwan has accumulated more perfect marks (31) in major competitions than any singles skater in the modern era.

LEA ANN PARSLEY, SKELETON: Parsley, 32, is a medal contender in the sport, which makes its Olympic debut. She finished fourth in the Goodwill Games last year in Lake Placid and won both national team qualifying races. Parsley also was a member of the 1996 U.S. handball team and was named the 1999 Ohio Firefighter of the Year.

KRISSY WENDELL, HOCKEY: A relative newcomer, Wendell led the U.S. team to a 7-0 record in January, recording multiple points in all but one game. The team's leading scorer, Wendell has 31 goals and 33 assists for 64 points.

CHRIS WITTY, SPEED SKATING: Witty, 25, is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in the 1,000 meters, bronze in the 1,500) and holds three American records. She finished second overall in the 2000 world sprint championships. Witty also competed in the Summer Games in Sydney in track cycling, placing fifth.

* * *

Men

ERIC BERGOUST, AERIAL SKIING: Bergoust, 31, won Olympic gold in Nagano, a year after breaking his right collarbone in six places. A 10-year member of the U.S. team, he also won gold at the 2000 Goodwill Games and is a medal favorite.

MARK GRIMMETTE AND BRIAN MARTIN, LUGE: Teamed since 1996, Grimmette and Martin are ranked No. 2 in the world. They finished third in the 1999-2000 World Cup standings and were bronze medalists at the 2000 World Championships.

APOLO ANTON OHNO, SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING: Ohno, 18, is the 2001 World Cup overall leader. He also was the 1999 world junior champion and the U.S. champion in 1997 and 1999. He holds the U.S. records in 500 meters, 1,000-meter time trial and 1,500 meters.

ROSS POWERS, SNOWBOARDING: Powers, 21, won the bronze medal in Nagano and followed that with golds at last year's Goodwill Games and Gravity Games. A five-time U.S. halfpipe champion, he became the youngest national champion at 16.

DARON RAHLVES, ALPINE SKIING: In his eighth year on the U.S. team, Rahlves, 27, won two World Cup races last year and the super-giant slalom world championship last month. He finished seventh in the super-g in Nagano but has been a full-time downhill racer for three seasons. -- Compiled by SHARON GINN.

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