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    Wednesday, February 25, 1998

    Catriona tests her medal

    By TOM BRENNAN -- Calgary Sun
      Something was happening to Catriona Le May Doan's shiny new medals.
     They were getting, well, banged up.
     "There are chips on it, from me walking and them knocking against each other," reported Canada's Queen of Speed.
     This, we couldn't have.
     "But then," she laughed, "we clued in that if you shorten one (ribbon) and keep the other one long ..."
     Oh yes, there are all sorts of things that come with being a double Olympic medallist that they just don't teach you anything about.
     For instance, how to be a celebrity.
     "People I've been talking to were sort of mentioning (how large her Olympic victory was back home)," she said. "Then when (husband) Bart came home on Saturday he goes 'it is going to be crazy.' "
     Le May Doan and the rest of Canada's highly successful speed skating team returned to Canada from Nagano Monday. They flew to Toronto for a press conference, then most of them turned around and came to Calgary yesterday to do the same.
     And it didn't take long for Le May Doan to realize that things are different than when she left three weeks ago. Even though she insists she doesn't feel differently, and is determined not to let what's happened to her change her, life obviously won't be quite the same.
     "It's funny, even through the year I said to myself, with two good races for sure, I should be able to win gold," said the Olympic 500-metre champion and bronze medallist in the 1,000m. "Then when somebody says, 'oh, that person's an Olympic gold medallist,' I'm always like, oh, really, wow! That's what hasn't sunk in, that people will say that about me.
     "Walking through the Toronto airport, everybody passing me going 'hey congrats, hey congrats.' I'm like, oh thank, you. I THINK they know what they're saying congrats about.
     "I think once I get to go home and relax, then I might realize everything."
     It is a fine line an athlete treads at an Olympics. One misstep, like that which befell Le May Doan when she tumbled out of the 500m in Lillehammer, and everything changes.
     "You sort of look at the whole two weeks, and it's made up of every kind of story," Le May Doan nodded. "It's neat in a way because everybody can write a story in itself. And yet they're not all good stories, which is too bad."
     She flashed that now-famous smile.
     "I am happy with my story."
     So was teammate Susan Auch who, in her final Olympics, won a second straight silver in the 500m.
     "Coming in, I always thought there was maybe a chance to win it, although after being beaten by (Catriona) so much all year, it was a real slim chance," said Auch. "But then after the first race, I really had my hopes up, because I was so close. But it was great all around. To be able to even stand on the line and think, 'yeah I have a chance at this' is a pretty cool feeling."
     How did it compare to Lillehammer, when she was runnerup to Bonnie Blair?
     "Both times were equally great," she said. "Having Derrick (her brother and sprint coach) so involved in this one was great, and so was having teammates who are really close.
     "If I wasn't going to win, there's nobody else I'd rather have win it than (Le May Doan)."
     What's next? On the ice, skaters still have World Cups, plus the world single distance championships at the Olympic Oval next month.
     Le May Doan has a meeting Monday with her agents, who are suddenly much busier than they were. She'll also, at some point, visit her home town of Saskatoon, to recreate her waving of the Saskatchewan flag on the Olympic podium.
     "But this is as far as I know right now what's going on in my life," she grinned. "I don't have a clue what my schedule is."