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    Monday, February 23, 1998

    Olympics 1998: Memorable moments

    By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
      NAGANO -- The XVIII Olympic Winter Games are many things to many people, a series of snapshots and moments which capture the nature of competition and the unrelenting resolve of the human spirit.
     Or somebody falling on their head and crashing through a fence, doing a face plant and getting up and walking away.
     The 1998 XVIII Winter Games will be remembered for many things.
     Here are 98 of them...
     Vending machines. Everywhere. Selling everything.
     Sumo wrestlers at the opening. The most goosebumps in one place since a cold wind hit a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot.
     Shawn McEachern. The Senators forward on being in Japan: "I don't get it. I went to France, which we liberated twice, and they treat Americans terrible. I come to Japan, which we bombed, and they treat us great."
     Chicago newspaperman Steve Rosenbloom's line about Brian Leetch: "He played so bad here, he got Colin Campbell fired in New York."
     That diagram Russian coach Vladimir Yurzinov drew near the end of the game with the Finns. It looked like Japanese.
     Sergei Fedorov, before the Games started saying he didn't want to talk about his contract at all because he didn't want to take anything away from the performances of the world's great athletes.
     Sergei Fedorov signing an offer sheet with the Carolina Panthers a few days later, taking away from the performances of the world's great athletes, gathered for the Olympics.
     Brett Hull's statement that he had been in bed at eight o'clock eight out of 10 days.
     Team Canada's Steve Yzerman on Brett Hull's statement: "A.m. or p.m.?"
     Condoms with the cute little Snowlets logo on them (Somebody told me about them, dear.)
     Colette Brand of Switzerland was asked how she felt after winning the bronze in women's aerials: "I'm very hungry and I need to pee."
     CP reporter Neil Stevens improvising as DJ on the old turntable at the India bar.
     The revelation that Kazakhstan's power play is better than the Senators'.
     How, after being in Nagano for three weeks, The Economist can be classed as erotic material.
     The guys who come out and clean the class between periods at Big Hat.
     The class of the Bean family while dealing with the absence of mom and wife Nancy, who passed away in August.
     The Canadian men's curlers bragging how the 60th best club team in Canada could beat the best from Europe.
     Canada's curlers losing to Switzerland the next day, 9-3.
     Sign in hotel elevator: "hotel robby."
     Chandeliers in the buses.
     The Canadian uniforms, supplied by Roots.
     The Australians laughing at the Canadian uniforms supplied by Roots because "root" has an entirely different meaning Down Under.
     The Virgin Island's four-man bobsled team, which hit more walls than the American hockey players.
     The name Snow Harp, the venue for cross country skiing. It's just a great name.
     The incessant ringing of cellphones, especially the one that played the Star Wars theme.
     Our elevator, which stopped only on even floors.
     English menus.
     The recording of children yelling "Nagano!" which was the cue for the freestylers at the moguls to start.
     People lined up on the route to the Opening Ceremonies, four deep, smiling and waving to visitors.
     Heated toilet seats.
     No paper towels in public bathrooms.
     Americans complaining about paying a premium, imported price for a Bud.
     Hairwashing machines.
     Philadelphia newspaperman Les Bowen upon seeing the size of the Chinese women's goaltender: "It looks like Bruce Garrioch in goal."
     The school kids at biathlon who chanted the name of each competitor as she started out, giving her her own little cheering section.
     Reporters complaining about having to stay in Ueda as in "Ueda hell out there."
     Ice dancing. You have to wonder about the merits of a sport in which wearing a studded dog collar is a good thing.
     Canadian assistant bobsled coach Rico Freiermuth walking around with half his head shaved. He said the sliders could shave it if they won gold and Pierre Lueders and Dave MacEachern did. But they weren't around, so the sledders did half and left the rest for the winners.
     The apples at the bobsleigh venue with the Olympic rings tattooed on them.
     Hot wine at the luge venue.
     The buses which run on time, but are hotter inside than Atlanta ever was.
     Ray Bourque in the shootout while Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky were on the bench.
     The shortest telephone cords anywhere.
     Eighteen thousand yen for a pitcher of beer. "Special price" it says. Yeah, any other time it's probably a thousand.
     Picabo Street singing the American national anthem on the podium.
     Hermann Maier's crash in the downhill, going head over heels through two fences and then doing a face plant into a snowbank.
     The Toronto Star's Dave Perkins: "(Hermann Maier) spent more time in the air than the Wright Brothers."
     Hermann Maier getting up, dusting himself off and walking away.
     Hermann Maier then going out and winning a gold medal in the Super G.
     Hermann Meier then going out and winning a gold medal in the giant slalom.
     Seeing the joy of the Japanese fans when Hiroyasu Shimizu won the gold in speed skating even if it meant he beat out a Canadian.
     The housekeepers gathered around the TV in the media village lobby, celebrating the combined ski jumping gold won by the Japanese team.
     Philippe Candeloro's long program. (That's what they say).
     Dominik Hasek.
     Goal posts.
     Elvis Stojko's guts.
     The picture of Wayne Gretzky on the bench after losing the shootout to the Czech Republic.
     Bjorn Dahlie (four times a gold medal winner).
     Tara Lipinski fighting back to beat Michelle Kwan.
     Marc Gagnon finally getting his gold.
     Ross Rebagliati refusing to be a hypocrite.
     Wondering who gets fired first? Shannon Miller or Marc Crawford?
     Taxi drivers, driving empty cabs, who refuse to stop.
     E-mail. From anybody.
     Catriona Le May Doan's legs (and we mean that in the nicest way.)
     Tracy Wilson knowing the dance results before the competition.
     Shae-Lynn Bourne's poise in the wake of the sham that is ice dancing judging. And, on the same note, Victor Kraatz somehow biting his tongue.
     Annie Perreault asked to explain who she was, but not being allowed to do it in her native tongue.
     Reporters blaming the Canadian Olympic Association for everything.
     Everybody having the flu (except me).
     The contributions of colleagues Steve Simmons and Steve Buffery.
     Taking off your shoes at the front door.
     The slippers.
     Pavel Bure's five goals against the Finns.
     Dutch speed skater Marianne Timmer.
     Athletes finally getting recognition. About 41,000 spectators turned out for the Nordic combined prompting Tsugiharu Ogiwara to say: "I feel like Michael Jackson."
     Bullets hit the garbage at the biathlon venue (which caused a stir because firearms are banned in Japan).
     Hundreds of bikes -- and not one of them locked up.
     Money in the lost and found at the Main Press Centre.
     The American hockey players damaging the Olympic Village.
     Freestyler Jean-Luc Brassard blaming his poor result on carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremonies.
     The majesty of the Zenkoji Temple.
     We think it's a compliment: Cutline under photo of the gold-medal winning Swiss men's curling team in the Olympic daily: "Swiss curlers show you don't need to be genetic freaks to win gold medals."
     What a quote from Russian cross-country skiing diva Elena Vaelbe after finishing 17th in the 15km: "As all people on this Earth, I walk as a zebra with alternating white and black stripes. It is possible I am passing through my black stripe this year."
     Packing with a hangover.
     Japanese drummers on the steps of Big Hat.
     It wasn't a good Olympics for snowboarders. Austrian Martin Freinadernetz had his credentials revoked after spilling a three-litre (!!) can of beer on the hotel's phone display board at the front front desk.
     People lined up to spend money at the NHL shop and Nike store.
     Gold medal winner Georg Hackl's "Super Booties" at luge.
     People at luge calling their footwear "booties." Then, to boot, people with nerve to get upset over Super booties.
     Eagle eyes: TV viewers in Germany called to complain the eagle on the hockey team's sweaters faces the wrong way. He looked right, but should be looking left. You could say the same for the hockey team which failed to qualify for the medal round.
     Really? Famed womanizer Alberto Tomba: "I do hope to find the right girl at this point."
     The Kenyan cross-country ski team.
     Women's hockey team in tears after losing gold-medal game.
     Bonding between Canadian athletes.
     At the luge competition, Bancroft's Clay Ives, mad after his first run, didn't want to talk to the two Canadian reporters who bothered to show up for the event. Calgary's Tyler Seitz obliged us by granting an interview. Guess that means we got a Seitz for sore Ives.