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    Friday, February 20, 1998

    Hindle receives pat on injured shoulder from U.S. chief

     NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- A Canadian bobsledder injured by glass that fell from the sixth floor of the Olympic Village received an expression of concern from the chief delegate of the U.S. Olympic team.
     Paul George, the top official among the U.S. team in the village, said today he told Matt Hindle he was sorry about the injury, although he did not know the cause.
     He also stressed in an interview that he was virtually certain it was unrelated to the trashing of dorm rooms at the village by members of the U.S. men's ice hockey team.
     "I went up to him (Hindle) and mentioned I was very sorry about what had happened to him," George said. "I didn't know who broke the glass, and I still don't."
     Hindle, 23, said he was walking past a dorm at 8 p.m. Wednesday when he was hit by what Canadian Olympic Association spokeswoman Suzanne Chariest said were "pieces of glass" from a Plexiglas barrier that fell from the sixth floor of the tower.
     "The chief of mission of the American team gave me a very genuine apology and I appreciated that," Hindle said after competing in today's first run of the four-man bobsled competition. "Some other athletes have given me their condolences."
     Hindle required five stitches for a cut to his left shoulder. He also suffered a glancing blow to his head.
     "I gave him a pat on the shoulder," George said. "Unfortunately, it was the wrong shoulder."
     George said he told Hindle he was most concerned about whether the Canadian could compete and said he offered his good wishes as he would to anyone who had sustained a serious injury.
     He said a USOC investigation had determined the accident it was unrelated to an incident early Thursday in which an unknown number of members of the U.S. hockey team vandalized three rooms on the fifth floor of the same dorm.
     "We've looked at it pretty clearly and, while I've learned never to say never, we're pretty damn certain that the hockey players were not at the village at the time this happened," George said. "They were just finishing a news conference at the MPC (main press center) at 7:40 p.m., and it would have been physically impossible for them to get back by the time this happened."
     The U.S. team, loaded with NHL stars and a favorite for a medal, was eliminated in the quarterfinals Wednesday by the Czech Republic 4-1. The USOC said today that some team members had trashed their rooms, breaking chairs and discharging fire extinguishers, around 4 a.m. Thursday, 8 hours after Hindle was injured.
     George said the spot from which the Plexiglas fell was a common area on the sixth floor, near an elevator, where athletes from all floors had access. He said athletes from the United States, Australia and possibly Canada lived on that floor.
     Hindle, a side pusher on Canaa 2, finished 11th in the first heat, the only run today because of rain.