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WINTER OLYMPICS : Jansen to Compete Tonight, Then Leave for Funeral

February 18, 1988|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

CALGARY, Canada — United States speed skater Dan Jansen will compete in tonight's 1,000-meter race here at the Winter Games, as he thought he would, but will leave immediately afterward to attend his sister's funeral Saturday in Wisconsin.

Jansen's 27-year-old sister, Jane Beres, died of leukemia early Sunday in a West Allis, Wis., hospital only hours before he raced in the 500 meters.

Jansen, who fell in that race in which he was among the favorites, is also picked by many to win a medal in the 1,000 meters.

A United States Olympic Committee sponsor, Combs-Gates of Denver, will fly Jansen home in a private jet immediately after his race tonight. The USOC is paying for the cost of the fuel.

Jansen, 22, and the youngest of nine children, spoke to his sister on the telephone shortly before she died. He indicated after the 500-meter race that he would compete in the 1,000 before returning for his sister's funeral.

USOC President Robert Helmick said Jansen has displayed the spirit of the Olympic games.

"He has shown the world the kind of toughness and the kind of depth that should inspire young athletes," Helmick said. "He is going to compete . . . and he has shown all of us exactly what being an Olympian is all about."

U.S. Coach Mike Crowe said Wednesday that Jansen's mental outlook seems much improved.

"Dan looks to be in great shape mentally," Crowe said. "He's a lot more up, focused and keyed. I think he'll be 100% for the race."

How's this for confidence?

Right after he set an Olympic record in winning the men's 5,000-meter race Wednesday, Swedish speed skater Tomas Gustafson was asked if he will win his next race, the 10,000 meters.

"No, I don't think so," Gustafson said. "Gerard Kemkers (of Holland) or Geir Karlstad (of Norway) will win."

Gustafson won the silver medal in the event at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

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