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Icon back for look at history

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


Jim McKay may no longer be Mr. Olympics, the voice of the Triple Crown or the face of American sports, but those who remember when he was can relive those days Sunday.

ABC's Wide World of Sports' 40th anniversary special, hosted by McKay, will pack a lot of memories and celebrity interviews in a two-hour special that begins at 4 p.m. McKay, who hosted the show's premiere April 29, 1961, will open the network's archives, from famous bouts by Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard to Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10s to Evel Knievel's unmatched stunts. For the curious, McKay will tell the story of Vinko Bogataj, better known as the free-falling "agony of defeat" ski jumper.

Because the network hasn't covered a lot of the greatest events from recent history, the fresh stuff is fairly scarce. Featured are Tiger Woods' win at the 2000 British Open, the U.S. women's soccer team's 1999 World Cup title run and Lance Armstrong's uplifting victories, first over cancer and then in the Tour de France.

And, ahem, those who didn't get to see Michelle Kwan win her fourth world championship last month because Ch. 28 chose to air the event in the wee hours of a Sunday morning can see her skate to the title.

RATINGS: Fox's NASCAR coverage again won the weekend, posting a 6.4 rating/17 share for the Talladega 500 on Sunday. That doubled the rating for NBC's NBA playoff game between the Raptors and Knicks, which went head-to-head against the race. One ratings point equals approximately 1.022-million homes; share is the percentage of televisions turned on that were tuned in.

STAR TURNS: Already this off-season, Lightning players have more national television appearances (two) than the entire team during the season (one). First Ryan Johnson hosts and produces the NHL's Cool Shots Wednesday on ESPN, now goaltender Kevin Weekes hits the big time. On Monday, Weekes will join fellow NHL players Bill Guerin of the Bruins and Rob Niedermayer of the Panthers in taping a scene for ABC's All My Children, presumably to help promote not their acting abilities but the network's Stanley Cup playoffs coverage. The players will be joined in the scene by AMC star/talk show host Kelly Ripa and reggae artist Shaggy.

FINE TUNING: CNN/SI has jumped on the NASCAR bandwagon with its racing show NASCAR Plus, which airs Mondays at 6:30 p.m. (re-airing four times Mondays and Tuesdays). ... Sunshine has hired a new reporter to cover the Tampa Bay area. Erin Andrews will handle sideline duties for the Lightning and contribute to Lightning Weekly, Sunshine Network Live! and Florida Sports News. ... ESPN2 will debut a 13-week live summer boxing series May 8 at 9 p.m.

QUOTABLE: "It was a friggin' mess." -- Matt Vasgersian, XFL play-by-play announcer, on the startup league's first broadcast. The Wall Street Journal also said Vasgersian was demoted from the No. 1 broadcasting team after he failed to "show sufficient enthusiasm" for either the league or its cheerleaders during the opener.

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