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WINTER OLYMPICS : Notes : Olympic Flame Leaves Some in Calgary With a Warm Feeling Inside

February 21, 1988|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

CALGARY, Canada — When local organizing committee officials placed an Olympic flame on Mt. Allan, the site of the Alpine skiing competition, they made it accessible to spectators who might want to light candles by it. They thought it would represent a ritualistic link to the Ancient Olympics.

But if they thought everyone would hold the flame sacred, the officials found out otherwise last week when they caught spectators roasting wieners over the fire.

Apparently, even some of the committee's volunteers thought that was a good idea. On Friday, they were using the flame to roast marshmallows.

Asked if he were disturbed by the breach of Olympic etiquette, Bill Payne, an organizing committee official, said: "No. Perhaps I don't understand the implications of it, but I was quietly amused."

Another organizing committee official, Jerry Joynt, told reporters they should be the last to make an issue of it.

"When we went to Greece to get the flame," he said, "one member of the media lit his cigarette by it."

Karen Percy became a national hero after she won the bronze medal in the women's downhill Friday, becoming the first Canadian to win a medal in these Games.

An estimated 70,000 people attended the awards ceremony Friday night at the Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary, and there were signs on stores throughout the city congratulating her. "Our First Medal," was the headline on the lead story in Saturday's Calgary Herald.

Percy's mother, Heather, was somewhat bemused by all of it.

She said that everyone in their family has nicknames. Karen's is "Klutz."

"She'll race down a mountain at 50 or 60 miles an hour and then come home and fall down our back steps," she said. "It's a bit of a family joke."

Canada's cross-country ski coach, Marty Hall, has been criticized by Canadians and Soviets for accusing Soviet cross-country skiers of using blood doping to improve their times. The Soviets won two medals in each of the first four cross-country events.

The unkindest cut came from Soviet sports minister Marat Gramov, who made a pointed reference to Canadian cross-country skier Pierre Harvey's 17th-place finish in the 15-kilometer race.

"Our coaches have produced world champions for some time," Gramov said. "In fact, I spoke to our cross-country head coach, Victor Ivanov, and he told me that if he could coach Canada's Pierre Harvey he'd make him a world champion in two years."

Slow Eddie update: The International Ski Federation may not allow Great Britain's Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards, a distant last in the 70-meter ski jumping competition last week, to compete in Monday's 90-meter jump.

"We shouldn't let a less qualified skier like him participate if there are winds," said ISF technical delegate Torbjorn Yggeseth of Norway. "We are strictly considering safety, his safety. On a calm day, we'd let him jump. On a marginal day, I would say, 'Please don't let him do it.' "

Yggeseth said no ski jumper has ever been prohibited from competing in the Winter Games.

A reporter mentioned that a directive disallowing Edwards from competing might cost him endorsements.

"We also may be saving him from two broken arms and two broken legs," said Rob McCormack, chief of competition.

Add Eddie, this from an East German newspaper: "Where would the Olympic Games go if people like Edwards took their place in every discipline and so discredited the sporting achievements of those who far outstrip them in ability?"

A reply to the East German newspaper from the London Star: "Sour Krauts!"

The temperature Saturday in Calgary was 63, an all-time high for Feb. 20. "Take lots of sunscreen," the organizing committee said in its daily weather advisory.

A sad footnote to the Brian Boitano-Brian Orser confrontation in figure skating Saturday night: According to the Calgary Sun, Canadian Dennis Coi, who beat both Orser and Boitano in the 1978 world junior championships, died last September of AIDS. He was 26.

TV critic Steve Daley of the Chicago Tribune awarded few medals to ABC's announcers--in particular, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Al Trautwig and Frank Gifford.

"McKay is simply hopeless," Daley wrote. "His eyes wander aimlessly as he struggles to reach the point or the end of the sentence, whichever comes first.

"He has always been overrated, all the way back to 1972 and Munich, when Israeli athletes were murdered after being taken hostage in the Olympic village. McKay's tentative work in that difficult circumstance earned him an Emmy and a lifetime pass from criticism of his announcing skills, neither of which he deserved.

"But the Jim McKay whom Olympic buffs grew up on was enthusiastic and generally well informed. Now he talks like the boy in the bubble; if it's 1988, this must be Calgary.

"Keith Jackson, whose machismo microphone style is a joke even among his ABC colleagues, is utterly miscast in Calgary. At any moment, you expect him to scream, 'Fumble!' or begin relating a favorite Bear Bryant story from the only sport that ever interested him: college football.

"Among McKay, Jackson and Trautwig, with the Giffer tossed in for good measure, ABC has turned a $300-million investment over to the Four Stooges. And what in the name of broadcast news is David Santee doing with a microphone? This is a sports division that let the unctuous Jim Lampley get away and suffered a decline in quality."

Times staff writer Mike Downey also contributed to this story.

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