Step Inside You won't believe some of the things going on inside the athletes' village, far from the madding crowds and behind a wave of tight security

February 13, 2002

The athletes' village, which consists of 20 dormitories and 180
other buildings at the University of Utah, serves as more than
living quarters for 3,500 competitors and officials from the 77
nations represented at the Games. It is also a place to mingle,
to work on language skills and, when the game rooms aren't
crowded, to blow off steam. "The Games really begin for me when I
come to the village," says Mark Grimmette, a U.S. luger competing
in his third Olympics. "Seeing all those different jackets from
all the countries in the village, that's when it sets in that I'm
an Olympian again."

From the outside the village has the look of a fortress, with
checkpoints manned by armed national guardsmen. Once inside,
athletes can find more than just a place to crash. There is a
hair salon, bank, Internet cafe, flower shop, photo shop, post
office, fitness center, massage center and convenience store.
The coffeehouse staff includes a professional palm reader who
predicts everything except an athlete's results. The on-site
Olympic Museum has more than 300,000 photos. The popular Village
Club has a lineup of visiting musicians that includes folk
singer Pete Seeger and a group called the A Cappella Bobsled

The religious center, which features a prayer room, counseling
room and religious-studies text room, offers regular services
for Buddhists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Protestants. The
main dining hall, which can seat as many as 650 people, is open
24 hours a day and sports fare from a dozen cuisines. From there
the well-fueled athletes can ply their skills at the village's
air-hockey boards, billiards tables and putting greens, where
even the world's greatest superstars become kids at play again.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNN JOHNSON FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNN JOHNSON Village fun runs the gamut from greetings by a member of the Shoshone Bannock tribe, video e-mail (as the French bobsled team discovered), handy artwork by various Olympians and a baton-twirling exhibition on the main drag. FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNN JOHNSON Whether it be video action in the game room, shopping for watches, playing a little eight ball or getting a manicure, Olympians have a variety of ways to spend their downtime without leaving the village.

"The Games really begin for me when I come to the village,"
says American luger Mark Grimmette.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)