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Rock 'n' Jock
A nightly mix of medals and music puts pizzazz in the Plaza

This is an article from the Feb. 15, 2002 issue

Put a few Barenaked Ladies on stage and anything can happen.
Take Wednesday night, for instance, when pairs figure skaters
Jamie Sale and David Pelletier joined the Canadian band during
its concert at the Olympic Medals Plaza. Sale played guitar
while Pelletier jammed with the tambourine. "I'm not allowed to
swear," shouted guitarist-singer Ed Robertson, wearing only a
Canadian speed skater's unitard, "but that kicked ass!"

The same can be said about every evening at the Plaza, where the
medals ceremonies and the concerts that follow have become the
hottest show at the Games. Intended as payback to Utahns for
their sacrifices as Olympics hosts, the show attracts 20,000
nightly. Some 120,000 tickets were distributed free throughout
the Salt Lake area over the five weeks before the Games. Native
American performers, the AntiGravity aerial troupe, local bands,
fireworks and the medals presentations are all part of the
entertainment.

The main attractions, though, are the musical acts that close the
show, a lineup good enough for the Grammys or MTV awards. The
Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow have already performed; Nelly
Furtado (Monday) and Creed (Tuesday) are still to come. The
drawback? The medal-winning athletes, around whom the whole night
was produced, are often little more than opening acts for the
musical talent. "Wednesday night was the first time we had
athletes on stage during the concert," says Olympic Medals Plaza
executive producer Gail Seay, who hopes for more of the same.

Demand for the tickets has been fierce. When the last ones were
given out, on Feb. 2 at a Hallmark store in the Provo Towne
Center mall, 500 people camped overnight, then pushed in a door
to the mall and surged against the store's metal gates in the
morning.

Yesterday, two tickets to the Feb. 23 show featuring 'N Sync
sold for $510 on eBay. "They get to see the acts, and they get
to see the athletes in their greatest moment," says Chris
Harrison of New York City, who says he turned down $500 for his
single ticket to the Feb 12 event with Macy Gray. "People are
just nuts about this." --Gene Menez

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Alex Maier has heard it all, from Minor Maier to Baby
Herminator. And those are just the English versions. Alex is
skiing's answer to Keith Gretzky, Karen Kwan and Beth Heiden. He
is the sibling. Now, though, while Alpine legend Hermann Maier,
winner of two golds in Nagano in 1998, is recovering from
injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last summer, Alex is
here trying to uphold the family's Olympic tradition by snagging
a medal in snowboarding's parallel giant slalom. Yesterday he
had the second-fastest time in qualifying, behind Gilles Jaquet
of Switzerland.

Alex shares his brother's penchant for dodging death. Just days
before he won his first medal in Nagano, Hermann walked away
from a horrific upside-down tumble over two sets of safety
netting in the downhill. In November 2000 Alex was training in
Kaprun, Austria, where he routinely took a cable car through a
tunnel to get to his ski site. The day he decided to take the
morning off, the car caught fire inside the tunnel, killing 155
people. Later that month Alex was driving home to Flachau,
Austria, from a race in Tignes, France, when an icicle flew off
a truck ahead of his Mercedes, causing him to hit the brakes and
collide with another truck. (He walked away with minor
injuries.) For Alex the slopes have been a safe haven.

Alex tried Alpine until at age 14 he realized he wasn't
world-class material. At 15 he took a job in a bricklayer's
workshop and later went to work in the Hermann Maier Fan Shop in
Flachau. In 1997 a friend introduced him to snowboarding. In
Alex's first World Cup event two seasons ago he placed 49th. In
March 2001 he cemented his status as an Olympic contender by
winning two World Cup races.

The younger Maier knows how competitive the older Maier can be.
"When we play a game of football [soccer]," he says, "If I make a
goal before him, he wants to start new. I'm the younger, so I win
not so often in football."

This time, though, Alex's bid for victory is a goal his brother
can support. --Brian Cazeneuve

Scandal? Quel Scandal?

The judging imbroglio rocking the world of patinage artistique
stinks worse than a wheel of overripe Camembert. The latest: IOC
president Jacques Rogge has said that a second gold medal could
be awarded, to Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Meanwhile scandal
swirls around a French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who placed
the Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze
ahead of the Canadians, who lost the original gold in a 5-4
voting split. Le Gougne was, according to Didier Gailhaguet,
head of the French Olympic team, put "under pressure." From
whom, Gailhaguet has not said.

This has drawn front-page coverage all over the world--Canadian
prime minister Jean Chretien even phoned his hosed hosers from
Moscow--but it has drawn scant attention in France. The tale of
the fragile Frenchwoman has been greeted with a Gallic shrug,
even by the renowned sports daily L'Equipe. A staffer said
yesterday that the paper has not written anything about the
judge yet, though it was considering breaking its silence today.

Hey, a chacun son gout. --Michael Farber

Burning question

Q: Why don't women compete in doubles luge?

A: Though they have never competed internationally in doubles
luge and none are slated to compete in the event at the Salt
Lake Games (the competition will take place today at Utah
Olympic Park), women can compete in the Olympic doubles luge
competition because the event is open to both sexes. Rules allow
women to be paired either with another woman or with a man.
Despite a perception to the contrary, there's no reason that
women can't be competitive. "There may be a strength
disadvantage at the start," says Gordy Sheer of the U.S., a
doubles luge silver medalist at Nagano, referring to the initial
pull off the starting ramp that propels competitors down the
course, "but as far as maneuvering and driving, there's no
advantage between the sexes." --Albert Chen

Where are they now?

Dick Durrance ALPINE SKIING
OLYMPIC HIGHLIGHTS: In 1936, in the first Games to include
Alpine skiing, he finished 10th in the combined event

The first great American ski racer, Durrance won so many
national titles (17, between 1936 and '46) that his likeness was
for several years imprinted on all medals awarded at the U.S.
championships. He changed the face of the sport in the U.S. in
other ways as well. A Florida native, Durrance learned to ski as
a teenager when his family moved to Garmisch, Germany. After his
competitive career ended, in 1947, he and his wife, Margaret,
who was known as Miggs, settled in Colorado, where he was named
general manager of the Aspen Skiing Corp., in what was then a
fledgling ski area. In 1950 Durrance lured the International
Skiing Federation (FIS) world championships, the first
world-class ski race to be held in North America, to the resort.
"People from all over the world heard about Aspen for the first
time," he says. "It gave us the publicity we needed. The point
was to show the Europeans that we had plenty of mountains in
this country, that we could challenge their best skiers."
Durrance left that job in 1952 to concentrate on filmmaking.
Over the next four decades he produced dozens of ski
movies--including the noted documentary Aspen Album--that fueled
the sport's popularity. Though the 87-year-old will watch the
Salt Lake City Games this week from his couch, Durrance says
he's in good health and was a proud bearer of the Olympic torch
last month when the route passed near his home in Carbondale,
Colo. "I walk with a cane," Durrance says, with a laugh, "but
I'm old, so that's allowed." --Trisha Blackmar

For the record
Yesterday's winners, notable results and a look at the overall
standings

the medal stand

LEADERS [Gold] [Silver] [Bronze] TOTAL
Germany 4 7 4 15
United States 3 5 3 11
Norway 5 5 0 10
Austria 1 2 7 10
Russia 2 3 2 7
Finland 2 1 1 4
Italy 2 1 0 3
Switzerland 2 0 1 3
Canada 1 1 1 3
France 1 1 1 3
Spain 2 0 0 2
The Netherlands 1 1 0 2
South Korea 1 1 0 2
Estonia 1 0 1 2
Japan 0 1 1 2
Poland 0 1 1 2
Sweden 0 0 2 2
Croatia 1 0 0 1
Bulgaria 0 0 1 1
China 0 0 1 1
Czech Republic 0 0 1 1

Finals

ALPINE SKIING
Women's Combined
[Gold] Janica Kostelic
CROATIA 2:43.28
[Silver] Renate Goetschl
AUSTRIA 2:44.77
[Bronze] Martina Ertl
GERMANY 2:45.16

CROSS-COUNTRY
Men's 10-km Combined Pursuit
[Gold] Johann Muehlegg
SPAIN 49:20.4
[Silver] Thomas Alsgaard
NORWAY 49:48.9
[Bronze] Frode Estil
NORWAY 49:48.9

FIGURE SKATING
Men
[Gold] Alexei Yagudin
RUSSIA
[Silver] Evgeni Plushenko
RUSSIA
[Bronze] Timothy Goebel
UNITED STATES

SPEED SKATING
Women's 500 (two-race total)
[Gold] Catriona LeMay Doan
CANADA 1:14.75
[Silver] Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt
GERMANY 1:14.94
[Bronze] Sabine Voelker
GERMANY 1:15.19

Other Results

CURLING
The U.S. women fell 9-4 to Denmark and dropped into fifth-place
in the 10-team tournament.

HOCKEY
Led by Cammi Granato's hat trick, the U.S. women (2-0) routed
China 12-1, finishing the game with a 71-10 advantage in shots.

NORDIC COMBINED
Team Ski Jumping
Yesterday's competition was postponed because of inconsistent
winds. The jumping part of the event has been rescheduled for
Saturday. The cross-country portion will take place on Sunday.

SNOWBOARDING
Parallel Giant Slalom
Men's and Women's Qualification
Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland was tops in men's qualification,
followed by Alex Maier of Austria. Chris Klug was the only
American man to qualify for today's final in Park City. On the
women's side, Maria Kirchgasser of Austria was first in
qualification followed by 1998 Olympic gold medalist Karine Ruby
of France. Lisa Kosglow was the only American woman to advance
to the final.

COLOR PHOTO: DARRON CUMMINGS/AP (BARENAKED LADIES) Pelletier (left) and Sale got high marks for their Barenaked visit.COLOR PHOTO: MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGESB/W PHOTO: BETTMANN/CORBIS (1935) Seventeen-time national champ Durrance (in '35, above) brought world-class skiing to the U.S.COLOR PHOTO: CARL YARBROUGH [See caption above]COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY Little brother Alex has his sights set on another medal for the Maier family collection.COLOR PHOTO: JEFF HAYNES/AFP Combined queen Kostelic has a shot at three more medals.
They Said It
"Let's just say there was a lot of duct tape involved."
--Chris Soule of the U.S. on his rough-and-tumble start in the
sport of skeleton