Games glide to an end; ‘Something magical happened here’; Colorful finale caps Utah’s victory over security concerns

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 1A

SALT LAKE CITY – When Olympic organizers announced Kiss would be performing at Sunday night’s closing ceremony, conservative Utahans weren’t sure how to react.

The Deseret News, a local daily owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ran a story quoting several local citizens concerned that the band “has long been criticized as being satanic.”

“Maybe if they did a mild performance, that would be OK, but that’s not likely,” Utahan Kathy Curtis was quoted as saying. “This is really in poor taste.”

That the choice of an aging rock band was worthy of controversy shows just how smoothly the last 17 days have gone. Like any Olympics, the 19th Winter Olympic Games began with worries: over security, over religion, over how prepared Utah was to host the world. But they ended with the largest party the state has ever seen.

“Olympians and people of Salt Lake City, we did it!” said Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, to a huge worldwide television audience. “Something magical happened here.”

Sunday night’s theme was celebrating American popular music – something Utah has admittedly contributed little to since the Osmonds peaked. ‘N Sync opened the show with an a cappella version of the national anthem and was followed by jazz singer Dianne Reeves, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gloria Estefan and Harry Connick Jr.

And, of course, Kiss, doing its old war horse “Rock and Roll All Nite,” originally released in 1975, the same year Donny and Marie Osmond had their first prime-time TV special. Utahans needn’t have worried too much about their performance, which didn’t feature any of the band’s standard fake blood or fire breathing.

But in what is likely a first in Kiss history, the band was accompanied by figure skaters, former Olympic champions Katarina Witt and Kristi Yamaguchi. Skaters such as Kurt Browning and Dorothy Hamill also accompanied other artists.

Passing the baton

Between bands, officials found time for the usual business of any Olympiad, the passing of the baton to the next host city. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson passed the Olympic flag to Sergio Chiamparino, mayor of Turin, Italy, where the 2006 Winter Olympics will be held. To get fans ready, Italian singer Irene Grandi led the crowd in a rendition of “Volare,” followed by a tribute to Italian fashion.

“People of America, Utah and Salt Lake City, you have given the world superb Games,” said Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee. “You have reassured us that people from all countries can live peacefully together.”

Mr. Rogge was followed by an unannounced appearance by Willie Nelson covering Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The Olympic flag was lowered and escorted out of Olympic Stadium to the sounds of 130 trumpets. The flame, lighted 17 days earlier by members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, was extinguished.

While the Games were not without controversy – including a judging scandal in figure skating, accusations of bias, and two major doping cases on its final day – Mr. Rogge judged them a success.

But closing the Olympics didn’t mean closing down the party. There was still time for a black-light stick-man ballet (soundtrack provided by Moby) and performances by Christina Aguilera and Bon Jovi. Athletes were invited to come down from the stands to celebrate and dance to the music.

All nations present

Despite earlier threats of a boycott by Russian officials, every participating nation was represented at the ceremony. “A lot of the closing we really designed to entertain the athletes,” said Don Mischer, the event’s executive producer, before the show. “It puts us in complete party mood.”

The more staid opening ceremony’s pageant highlighted Utah history, and in a way, so did the closing. But this time the history was prehistoric, via a pair of talking dinosaur skeletons (voiced by none other than Donny and Marie) who provided commentary throughout the show. The female dino was distinguishable by the lipstick.

The grand finale: an epic snowball fight, followed by a fireworks show on a truly Olympian scale, featuring about 10,000 shells, or about 36 exploding every second.

Beer-fueled crowd clashes with police; Salt Lake City lawmen fire foam-tipped bullets to quell fracas

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 10A

SALT LAKE CITY – Police fired about 40 foam-tipped bullets to disperse a rowdy crowd outside an alcohol-themed venue Saturday night, officials said. Twenty people were arrested.

The melee began when Bud World, a downtown beer garden set up for the Olympics, became overcrowded, forcing people out onto a neighboring street, officials said. When the crowd became unruly, nearly 100 officers dressed in riot gear were brought in to clear the intersection the crowd was blocking.

But some began throwing beer bottles and cans at the officers, and the officers began to use the foam-tipped bullets to maintain control.

“There were some bottles thrown at police officers, and they responded accordingly,” Mayor Rocky Anderson said. “It’s just amazing that this is all that has happened with these crowds we’ve had every night.”

Police cordoned off sensitive areas downtown, including the hotel housing officials of the International Olympic Committee, and had helicopters hover over the area, using searchlights.

Mitt Romney, CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, shrugged off the incident, saying it was not significant enough for him to be called about it at the time it was happening. Officials described the incident as little more than a minor skirmish. “Last night did not amount to a riot,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said.

Chief Dinse said most of those arrested were from the Salt Lake City area and would be charged with misdemeanors such as public intoxication.

The crowd was dispersed by 2 a.m. Police said that there were no serious injuries and that property damage was limited to a few broken windows and some parking meters ripped out of the ground. The incident was managed by local police without the assistance of the many other agencies working on Olympic security.

Bud World’s sponsor, Anheuser-Busch, is an official Olympic sponsor and was the target of pre-Games opposition from those who feared that Bud World would appeal to too young an audience. Utahans consume less alcohol per capita than residents of any other state.

Alcohol was one of the more contentious issues in planning the Games. Its sale is more restricted in Utah than in most other states, and some conservatives did not support loosening those restrictions for the influx of visitors. Mr. Anderson has advocated liberalizing Utah’s alcohol laws and helped arrange for temporary alcohol permits for some downtown businesses. Many are operating by stringing together several of the three-day temporary alcohol permits allowed by law.

Despite fears of security problems, Saturday night’s disturbance was by far the biggest of the Games. Nearly 15,000 security personnel are working at the Olympics, and organizers spent $310 million on security.

Could’ve been Texas; Forthcoming book: Mormon Church nearly settled here

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 29B

SALT LAKE CITY – When Brigham Young entered the Great Salt Lake Basin, legend has it he had but four words to say:

“This is the place.”

But if history had unfolded slightly differently, “the place” might have been Corpus Christi. In 1844, Mormon leaders were in serious discussions with Sam Houston about moving their flock to Texas, not Utah. Houston, anxious to put some sort of barrier between its boundaries and Mexico, came close to selling the southern tip of his young Republic to the church, which wanted to turn it into an independent theocracy the Mormons called the Kingdom of God.

When an untimely murder stopped those plans, the church’s flirtation with Texas was quickly forgotten. A few scholars have known pieces of the tale for decades. But as the world focuses on Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics, a new book to be published this summer by a Brownsville historian describes just how close Texas came to being Mormon country.

“They were dead serious about coming to Texas. They were ready to go,” said Michael Scott Van Wagenen, author of The Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom of God and a lecturer at UT-Brownsville.

Converts and opponents

The central figure of the story is Joseph Smith, the man who turned a series of visions into a new religion that took hold of the nation’s imagination. According to Smith, an angel named Moroni appeared to him in 1823 and showed him ancient scriptural documents buried in a hill in upstate New York. Smith said that over the next seven years, he read and translated the documents and published them as the Book of Mormon, which he viewed as a supplement to the Bible.

Smith started telling others of his visions and soon gained a small cluster of converts. And almost as quickly, he gained opponents. Voting as a bloc, church members could achieve considerable power locally. Rumors swirled about odd sexual practices such as polygamy. People frightened or threatened by the church harassed, and in some cases, took up arms against it. In the 1830s, the Mormons were chased from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois.

In 1839, Smith bought up a tiny Illinois village on the Mississippi called Commerce. He changed its name to Nauvoo and set about building it into a home for his followers. Within a few years, it rivaled Chicago as Illinois’ largest city. But the familiar cycle began again: As the Mormons grew in strength, neighbors grew to fear their power.

Smith built a 5,000-man militia called the Nauvoo Legion to defend his followers. But as Illinois leaders turned against him, Smith believed it would be necessary to move again. And this time, he wanted to go somewhere where he wouldn’t be bothered.

“Joseph Smith’s attitude was, ‘We’ve got to go somewhere where nobody else is, we’ve got to be the first,'” said Glen Leonard, director of the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City.

Hundreds of miles south and west, Sam Houston and the Republic of Texas were also having problems with troublesome neighbors. Mexico was eager to reclaim the lands lost with the Republic’s creation.

Of particular concern was the area between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River, which reaches the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi. Texas and Mexico both claimed the area, and because there were few settlers there, Houston knew it would be difficult to defend.

“Houston had almost no control of anything south of the Nueces,” Van Wagenen said. “Houston knew it was only a matter of time before Santa Anna attacked.”

Houston hoped Texas could be annexed into the United States where it would have the protection of the U.S. Army. But concerns over slavery meant annexation efforts were going nowhere in Washington. So Houston had to consider other options.

As recently as 1840, Texas contemplated giving the Nueces Strip over for the formation of a new country. The Republic had supported the creation of the Republic of the Rio Grande, which included parts of northern Mexico and Texas land up to the Nueces. Texas leaders thought the new nation could provide a buffer between Texas and Mexico, but it only survived a few months before Mexico took back its land.

In other words, the needs of Texas and the needs of the Mormons coincided. Joseph Smith was looking for a piece of empty land to move his followers to. Sam Houston was looking for settlers and had been proven willing to give up a slice of Texas in exchange for added security.

Turning to Texas

The idea of a Texas move reached Smith on March 10, 1844 in a letter from Lyman Wight, one of the 12 church “apostles” who served directly under Smith. Smith was considering other options, including a move to the Oregon Territory, but Wight’s letter prompted him to take action. He called a meeting of the Council of 50, a governing body of the church.

Smith wrote in his journal:

Letter was read from Lyman Wight … about removing to the table lands of Saxet … Joseph asked, can this council keep what I say, not make it public, all held up their hands … if Notsuoh will embrace the gospel … can amend that constitution and make it the voice of Jehovah and shame the US.

Smith wrote in a simple reverse code in his journal: Saxet was Texas, Notsuoh was Sam Houston. Smith wanted to buy up the majority of the Texas Republic and turn it into an independent Mormon kingdom. Other documents from the period disclose the land the Mormons wanted: all of the Nueces Strip, plus nearly the entire Republic west of Austin.

On March 14, a church leader named Lucien Woodworth left for Austin to negotiate a deal. George Miller, a member of the Council of 50, recorded what happened on May 2, when Woodworth returned to Nauvoo:

The council convened to hear his report. It was altogether as we could wish it. On the part of the church there was commissioners appointed to meet the Texas Congress, to sanction or ratify the said treaty, partly entered into by our minister and the Texas Cabinet.

A preliminary deal had been struck. Details are not known, but Van Wagenen considers it unlikely that Houston would have agreed to the initial Mormon offer. Houston had dreams of expanding “Greater Texas” all the way to the Pacific, and selling all of West Texas to the Mormons would have prevented that.

Two later Mormon documents from 1847 give clues that the negotiated area was the Nueces Strip. One directly mentions “the Church removing to Texas, to the country lying between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers.”

Orson Hyde, a top church official, wrote to Smith, asking if he would “write to President Houston and ask him what encouragement he could give us if we would commence an immediate emigration there, and supply him with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 thousand soldiers to help fight the battle.”

The Council of 50 named Lucien Woodworth, George Miller and a third man to head back to Austin and finalize the deal. Assuming negotiations would be successful, Smith also named Miller and Lyman Wight to be the pioneers who would settle the territory and prepare it for an influx of Mormons.

‘I shall die innocent’

Smith never got a chance to complete any of his Texas plans. A month after Woodworth’s return, anti-Mormon forces were growing more aggressive. The governor of Illinois accused Smith of treason and issued a warrant for his arrest. Smith decided to surrender to authorities.

A mob broke into Smith’s jail cell on June 27, 1844. Smith was shot and killed.

Smith had not publicly chosen a successor, so the newly leaderless church was unsure how to proceed with Texas. Miller wrote later that he wanted to “get the authorities together and clothe ourselves with the necessary papers, and proceed to meet the Texan Congress, as before Joseph’s death agreed upon … so that we would be able to complete the unfinished negotiation of the treaty for the territory mentioned in my former letters.”

But Miller quickly found that the man who was taking over Smith’s leadership role, Brigham Young, didn’t share his enthusiasm for Texas. Rumors were swirling around Nauvoo that some members of the mob that killed Smith were going to Texas to hide. And Young may have thought better of moving the Mormons, in their weakened state, to land immediately between two warring nations.

And, in retrospect, it was probably a smart call. The Mexican War broke out in the proposed “Kingdom of God” just two years after Smith’s death.

But Lyman Wight, the man who had first proposed Texas to Smith, wasn’t very interested in Young’s thoughts. The two men were rivals, and Wight considered his mission from Smith – to lead an advance party into Texas – still binding.

Wight announced he was going to take a band of Mormons on his own from Wisconsin into Texas. In September 1845, Wight and his party left for Texas. They spent the winter in Grayson County before traveling south through Dallas, passing on Preston Road, and making it to Austin.

Austin had only 500 residents at the time, so the 150 new Mormons in town quickly became integral to Austin life. They became regionally famous for their furniture manufacturing, and they built Austin’s first jail.

But Wight’s efforts were cursed from the start. Floods and economic hardship forced them to move four times in 11 years. In 1858, in the midst of another move, Wight died. His followers dispersed around the country. Some joined the rest of the Mormons, who by then had reached Utah; others stayed in Texas and blended into the population.

“Their descendants still live in Texas,” said Van Wagenen, who is Mormon. “I bet if you went up to them and told them about their Mormon ancestors, they’d have no idea what you’re talking about.”

North Texas interest

Van Wagenen acknowledges there was no guarantee the Mormons would have moved to Texas if Joseph Smith had lived.

In fact, there is evidence that, in the last month of his life, Smith may have been changing his target from South Texas to North Texas. Just before his death, he was contacted separately by two Texas land speculators, one of whom tried to sell him a piece of land north of Dallas, on the Red River. One wrote to Smith:

In Texas you will find no dense population to contend with, no bigots to oppress, no overwhelming power to crush you in your infancy, but a new field open to the enterprising pioneer.

Van Wagenen suggests that these communications with private land speculators might mean that Smith was souring on the idea of forming an independent nation, and shifting his goal to living peacefully within Texas, on the superior land in the Republic’s north.

Traditional Mormon history has virtually ignored Smith’s dalliance with Texas, or considered it as something Joseph Smith considered only cursorily.

Leonard, for example, said he believes Smith considered Texas primarily as one of several “gathering places” for Mormons around the country, and that Smith was not interested in moving the greater part of the faith to Texas. “Texas was never seen as a headquarters,” he said.

But D. Michael Quinn, a Mormon historian whose controversial research has gotten him excommunicated from the church, said that the historical record supports the Texas thesis.

“It’s very common for historians to view history from hindsight,” Quinn said. “They’re not looking at it from the point of view of 1844 and what the church’s options were then. … I think Texas was far more serious an option in 1844 than anything involving Utah.”

Osmonds rock Salt Lake City; Utah’s first family still packing in fans from around the world

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 28B

LEHI, Utah – “We’ve been through a lot as a family,” said Merrill Osmond, sweating profusely after more than an hour on stage, playing the greatest hits of Utah’s first family. “But we’ve gotten through it all. And we appreciate all the love and support you’ve given us along the way.”

For Utahns, the Olympics brought more than foreign visitors and media attention. They also brought home a local icon. Despite their loving following here, the Osmond Brothers have played only a handful of shows in Utah for the last 20 years. But to coincide with the Games, they agreed to play two three-night stands.

“We always wanted to keep Utah as sacred territory,” said Wayne Osmond, 50, the fourth oldest of the nine Osmond children. “This has always been home, and we want to keep it that way, as a place where we can just hang out and not perform. But with the Olympics here, we figured why not?”

It’s easy to forget just how big a phenomenon the Osmonds were, particularly in the early 1970s when they could seemingly do no wrong. Between them, they’ve sold 80 million records and have 47 gold and platinum releases. In 1971, they set an American record by having 11 releases go gold in a single year. At age 9, the youngest Osmond, Little Jimmy, became the youngest artist to have a No. 1
hit in Britain, with “(I’ll Be Your) Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool.”

And that’s not even mentioning Donny and Marie.

“We were kind of the original boy band,” Wayne said. “We did our own movements, and we sang, of course. I think it’s wonderful to see so many bands doing similar things today.”

For many, the grinning Osmonds were an introduction to both Utah and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From their start performing at Disneyland, to a lengthy stay on Andy Williams’ variety show, to their time atop the pop charts, Utahns and Mormons have always felt a sense of ownership with the group.

“That’s all we’re known for, the Osmonds,” said fan Donna Burdash of Willard, Utah. “They set a good example for others. They had a good image and led good lives.”

“Whenever you went anywhere, people asked, ‘Oh, you’re from Utah – did you know the Osmonds?'” said Suzanne Shaw of Salt Lake City. Shaw has fond memories of meeting Wayne when they were both 12. Wayne and his brothers were already budding stars. “I was awed,” she said.

Friday night, the Osmond Brothers – Wayne, Merrill and Jay – mixed gospel, country, barbershop quartet and golden oldies. They played two rockers from their ’70s heyday, and each time they warned their mostly older audience what was coming: “If you don’t like rock and roll, then just strap on your seat belts and it’ll be over in two minutes,” Merrill said.

Throughout it all, Wayne – or “Crazy Wayne,” as he’s known to fans – kept rolling out jokes straight off the third-grade playground. “Never cook onions and beans together – it makes tear gas,” went one. “A guy asked me once, ‘What do you wear, boxers or briefs?’ I told him, ‘Depends.'”

Of the nine musicians on stage, seven were Osmonds. Along with the three main brothers, older brother Virl was on keyboards, and Osmond children were on bass, drums and percussion. (Several of the clan’s 57 grandchildren now perform as the Second Generation.) And the crowd’s favorite moment of the show was when little Donny, now all grown up, came out to join his brothers on a patriotic medley.

The Osmond Brothers plan to spend 2002 like they’ve spent much of the last four decades: on the road. They’ve got a tour planned with the Monkees. And they plan to head back to Europe some time soon, where their ’70s fame was even greater than in the United States.

“It was crazy here in the States,” Wayne said, “but in England, Holland, Germany, France, it was just cuckoo.”

Russians claim bias but won’t walk out

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 15B

SALT LAKE CITY – At the start of the Winter Olympics, organizers feared protesters on the streets. Instead, the protests are coming from Olympians themselves.

In a two-page handwritten fax, Russian officials claimed “unobjective judging by the majority of the panel” cost figure skater Irina Slutskaya a gold medal Thursday night. The International Skating Union denied the Slutskaya protest Friday night.

It is at least the fifth time the Russians have complained about unfair judging at these Games, which they say has become a “witch hunt” against their athletes.

Friday’s protest came on the heels of Russian Olympic Committee President Leonid Tyagachev’s statement on Thursday that his team would pull out of the Olympics early – as well as probably skip the Athens Games in 2004 – if their complaints were not satisfactorily dealt with quickly.

Along with the two figure skating controversies, Russia has protested the officiating in its 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the men’s hockey quarterfinals, said judges were biased in freestyle aerials, and alleged that a women’s cross-country skiing competitor was unfairly disqualified for failing a blood test Thursday.

After an 80-minute meeting Friday with Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, Russian officials said that they would not pull out of the Games.

“The national team will stay,” Russia’s IOC vice president Vitaly Smirnov told Reuters news service. “It will take part until the very end. Russia will take part in all events, in all competitions and will take part in the closing ceremony.”

But the lower house of Russia’s parliament took a different approach, voting 417-0 on a resolution asking Russian athletes to boycott Sunday’s closing ceremony unless Olympic officials apologize to the team.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin said North American athletes had a “clear advantage” in judging.

IOC Director General Francois Carrard said late Friday the Russian delegation has requested the IOC review a list of “points we should consider and talk over with the heads of the international sports federations.”

The Russian complaint had demanded that Slutskaya, who won the silver behind American Sarah Hughes, be given a second gold medal to share with Hughes. That’s a clear reference to the first prominent protest of the Games, when Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were upgraded from silver to a shared gold with Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. An investigation found evidence that a French judge had been improperly pressured to vote
for the Russian pair.

The ISU announced Friday they will have a hearing in April to make a final decision on accusations against French judge Marie Reine Le Gougne and ISU council member Didier Gailhaguet in the case.

Unlike the earlier Canadian protest, however, the Russians have provided no evidence of individual misconduct by a figure skating judge.

The Russians haven’t been the only ones expressing doubts about judging.

Korean officials have filed protests over short-track speed skating decisions against their athletes, including the men’s 1,500-meter race in which Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States was awarded the gold medal when Dong-Sung Kim was disqualified. The International Skating Union rejected their protests, and the Koreans said Friday they would appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A decision is expected Saturday.

Lithuanian officials also filed a complaint over ice dancing judging that was denied by the ISU.

Reporter’s Notebook: There’s more to Games than the games

Page 14B

It sounds like a cut-rate riddle of the Sphinx: If you go the Olympics but don’t go to any events, are you really there?

Wednesday was my 14th day in Salt Lake City, and as of 4:30 p.m., I had been to exactly zero Olympic events. Zero. At every Olympiad, the kind folks of Sports Day take pity on a poor, downtrodden reporter from the Metropolitan staff and lets the reporter come along for the ride. This time, I’m the lucky one.

But instead of spending our time at the bottom of the slopes or at the end of the halfpipe, we Metro types are asked to write about everything non-sports-related at the Games. If there’s no puck, snowboard or bobsled involved, it’s our turf.

The result: I’ve become a mini-expert on 1840s Mormon migration patterns, Utah’s Jell-O fetish, pin trading, and Mormon-Hare Krishna relations. But I still couldn’t tell you what a Salchow is, or why curling is a more legitimate Olympic sport than shuffleboard.

Finally, on Wednesday night, I got a chance to see a few events. At first, I felt a bit like a fraud – what’s an education reporter doing sitting in the press box at a hockey game? – but I got over that awfully quick. Like somewhere around Team USA’s third goal in its 5-0 dismantling of Germany. I could get used to this job.

Joshua Benton

Russians say they may leave Games; Officials cite judging, ‘witch hunt,’ in threat that includes ’04

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 1A

SALT LAKE CITY – One day before a Cold War hockey rematch, Russian officials revived a Cold War technique when they threatened to pull out of the Olympic Games.

But this time, Russians say that “unobjective decisions” by Olympic judges, not international politics, are forcing them to consider leaving Salt Lake City early. They also threatened to pull out of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens if their concerns aren’t addressed within 24 hours.

“I said that if Russia is not needed in the big sport, in the world sport, in the Olympic sport, hey, we’re ready to leave the Olympic Village,” said Leonid Tyagachev, president of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Later, Vitaly Smirnov, an IOC vice president from Russia, tempered Mr. Tyagachev’s remarks, saying there was no ultimatum “not 24 hours or 48 hours.”

Mr. Tyagachev’s comments were prompted by the disqualification hours earlier of Larissa Lazutina, a top Russian cross country skier, from the 20-kilometer relay. A pre-race test found elevated levels of hemoglobin in her blood. With no substitute on hand, the Russian team was forced to withdraw from the race.

Mr. Tyagachev acknowledged that Ms. Lazutina’s hemoglobin count was just above the legal limit but said she is not guilty of doping.

“We are clean,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”

The Russians said Ms. Lazutina’s disqualification was the latest in a string of anti-Russia judgments, including last week’s disputed pairs figure skating controversy and the officiating in Russia’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in the men’s hockey quarterfinals. He also said an unusually high number of Russian athletes were being selected for doping tests.

“I think we are seeing a witch hunt,” he said.

International Olympic Committee officials are confident that the calls made in each case “were absolutely correct,” according to IOC secretary general Francois Carrard.

Mr. Carrard said that, in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, IOC president Jacques Rogge wrote that he “understands that the stakes are high, and emotions and tensions run high” and that he sympathizes with the Russians.

Russia’s statements put its eagerly awaited hockey match with the United States at risk. The teams are scheduled to meet Friday in a rematch of the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” win over the Soviets 22 years ago to the day.

“If decisions are not made and issues we raised not resolved, the Russian team will not play hockey, will not run 30 kilometers, will look very negatively on other factors,” Mr. Tyagachev said.

Ms. Lazutina, who has won two silvers at these Games, is scheduled to race in the 30-kilometer cross country race Friday. Results from a urine test will determine if she is allowed to compete.

A high hemoglobin level is considered a health risk, not by itself a doping offense. Ms. Lazutina is pursuing her 10th career medal, which would tie the women’s Winter Olympics record.

“I think it’s clear that when the United States and Canada win as many medals as they have here, it’s because of the money that comes from the United States and Canada,” said Alexander Ratner, a Russian Olympic Committee board member. “It was in short track and other sports. I was convinced it would happen in hockey. The United States-Canada hockey game would be much more interesting to NBC.”

Mr. Tyagachev said that if Russia’s concerns should be addressed within 24 hours to avoid a walkout. And if the team left Salt Lake City early, it would likely not participate in the Athens Games, he said.

“Once you leave, it is not easy to come back in,” he said.

But Russian hockey officials said they were operating under the assumption they’d be playing Friday. “We will play,” said Slava Fetisov, coach and general manager of the Russian hockey team. “We are preparing for the game as if nothing has happened.”

The Russian concerns add to a long list of judging complaints at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Highest profile was the pairs figure skating dispute, in which Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier appeared to have the strongest performance but finished behind Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

After allegations that a French judge was pressured to vote for the Russians no matter how they performed, both the Russians and Canadians were awarded gold.

The Russians had earlier sent a letter of complaint to the International Ski Federation, alleging that judges in the freestyle aerials competition were biased. South Korean officials have filed complaints over a disputed short-track speedskating disqualification, and the Lithuanians have lodged a complaint
alleging a judging error in ice dancing.

“It’s a chain of events that, one by one, they are separate – but when they’re put together, one can think it’s a plot,” Mr. Ratner said.

Staff writers Mike Heika and Juliet Macur contributed to this report.

When progress makes perfect; Salt Lake City sets itself apart as it preaches diversity while attracting minorities

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 18B

SALT LAKE CITY – When you think of Utahns, you probably think of someone Mormon, conservative and white.

In other words, Orrin Hatch.

But within Utah, the capital Salt Lake City is an exception to the rule. Consider:

Nearly half of the students in Salt Lake City schools are minorities. A majority of city residents are non-Mormon. The city’s mayor is a self-described liberal Democrat and former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, whose unofficial motto for the city is “Strength Through Diversity.”

“More and more, Salt Lake City is becoming an island of progressivity in the middle of a very conservative state,” Mayor Rocky Anderson said.

“There are people who write in to the newspaper screaming, ‘What’s going on in Salt Lake City?’ ” said Paula Wolfe, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Utah. “But they’re usually from Provo or Ogden or somewhere else outside the city.”

There are a variety of reasons for the divergence between the city and state. Salt Lake City’s hemmed-in boundaries have kept the city small, but urban, keeping many conservatives in the suburbs rather than the city.

As a growing high-tech center, Salt Lake City attracts many out-of-staters seeking jobs, and they often bring their less conservative ideals with them. “We’ve got Berkeley liberals in government here,” said Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.

Salt Lake City also is home to the University of Utah. Having a large university often makes a city tilt further left – perhaps more so when the state’s other major school, Brigham Young University, is church-owned and quite conservative.

“Salt Lake certainly is a much more open and liberal community than the rest of Utah,” Wolfe said. “You can feel comfortable being gay or lesbian in Salt Lake City. But the minute you move out, you realize you’re back in Utah.”

Not long after taking office, Anderson issued an executive order banning discrimination over sexual orientation in city hiring.

All of Utah is becoming less white, largely because of an influx of Hispanics and, to a lesser extent, Asians and Pacific Islanders. Utah’s Hispanic population rose 138 percent in the 1990s and now makes up about 9 percent of the state.

But Salt Lake City has attracted the largest number of minorities. About 19 percent of city residents are Hispanic, and the city’s school system – usually an early indicator of demographic change – is now 46 percent minority.

When Ingrid Quiroz moved to Utah 13 years ago and became editor and publisher of the local Hispanic newspaper La Prensa, “it was weird to see a Hispanic in Utah,” she said.

Now, La Prensa is distributed in 180 locations around the city, and circulation has boomed from 3,000 to 16,000.

“It is definitely easier to be a minority here,” she said. “There are still some prejudices and discrimination in small towns. In Salt Lake City, people are more used to minorities.”

Anderson points to the differences between his inauguration ceremony and that of Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt. “The governor had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing, of course,” he said. “I think I saw one brown face in the whole crowd.” At his inauguration, Anderson had a Tongan choir sing, a Hispanic Mormon ward choir, a black minister, and a Native American prayer.

Not surprisingly, the ideological divide has shown up in state politics. “The city is 2-1 Democratic, and the rural areas are 2-1 Republican,” Taylor said.

Salt Lake has only elected Democrats as mayor since the 1970s, at a time when nearly all state-elected officials are Republicans. Four of the state’s five Congressmen are Republicans; the Democrat represents Salt Lake City.

But Wolfe said that while Salt Lake City may be liberal when compared to the rest of the state, liberal is a relative term. “I moved here from Seattle,” she said. “And Salt Lake is certainly far more conservative than that.”

What would happen if Anderson decided to run for a statewide office, like governor or senator? He has no illusions.

“I’d lose overwhelmingly,” he said.

Good help is not hard to find; Volunteers from Texas happy to pitch in to assist Olympics

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 16B

SALT LAKE CITY – He’s hard-working. He’s good at his job. So there was really only one way that Mickey Beavan stood out from his fellow Olympic volunteers.

“Everybody makes fun of me because I say ‘y’all,’ ” said Beavan, 28, of Dallas.

Beavan and 71 others here stand out because they came from Texas to help the Olympics run smoothly. Those include 35 from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

They’re only a tiny portion of the nearly 24,000 volunteers driving buses, directing traffic and manning metal detectors. That’s a workforce about the size of Waxahachie.

The vast majority, of course, are from Utah. But for those who made the trip, it’s an experience they wouldn’t trade away.

“The whole Olympic atmosphere is just awesome,” said Heide Starr of Dallas, who works on the Delta reservations desk back home but is a film runner here.

Lee Fay took time away from his job as a Delta pilot to help maintain the slopes for men’s skiing events, including the downhill, the combined and the super giant slalom. “Basically, I sat on top of the mountain and made sure everybody was in position with the tools they need for everything to go smoothly,” he said.

Fay, who lives in Bedford, said he was amazed at how much effort it took to keep slopes in top condition. “We had probably 500 workers, and everybody was used the whole time for very long days,” he said. “We had everybody from college students to corporate vice presidents working.”

Fay and company usually started between 1 and 3 a.m. and stayed as late as 8 p.m. “There were times we were just working on adrenaline,” he said. “It was really a blur.”

Beavan is working as a “sector coordinator for event services,” which he acknowledges “probably doesn’t mean anything to most people.” He’s in charge of a group of volunteers that work with security personnel – “I can’t say much more than that,” he said, because of his dealing with the Secret Service.

Back in Dallas, he works for the SMU athletic department, helping run Gerald J. Ford Stadium. But his workday there generally doesn’t start with a 4:30 a.m. briefing, as it does here. And it’s usually not as cold.

“We were driving once, and in the rear-view mirror it showed the temperature,” he said. “Minus-24 degrees. I asked, ‘Is that Celsius?’ No, Fahrenheit.”

Indeed, the cold seems to be a common theme among Texans working here.

“The day I got here, it was very, very cold, and the next day we got six inches of snow,” said Pete Weathers of Cedar Hill, who is helping maintain a cellular base station at Soldier Hollow, mountain home of biathlon and cross country skiing. “Then my friends would call and tell me it’s 70 degrees back home.”

Olympic organizers received 68,000 applications for the 23,500 volunteer spots, 4,000 of which are for the Paralympic Games that follow the Olympics.

The major benefit: a nifty uniform, complete with color-coded parka. Red, for instance, is reserved for medical personnel, while yellow is for event services. (Technically, the colors aren’t yellow, blue, red and green: they’re “amber,” “mountain shadow,” “wildfire,” and “forest.”)

Starr’s job is to transport film taken by photographers in distant venues to the Main Media Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

“I’m running a lot,” she said.

She’s driving a lot, too, although she said she admits she has been confused by the unusual street-naming system here, in which 300 South is an east-west street and 400 East runs north-south.

But she has enjoyed her experience enough that she’s considering applying for a volunteer slot at the next Winter Games, 2006 in Turin, Italy. “I want to make it a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Fay’s volunteer work has already been completed, and he’s back at his Bedford home. Could this be the start of a semi-regular job?

“I’d like to do it again,” he said. “Being part of one Olympics kind of gives you a door into working at future Olympics.”

He said he’s hoping for Vancouver to win its bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

What’s Beavan got planned after the Games? “A side trip to Vegas,” he said. “That city’s going to be packed when this is all over.”

U.S. remedy: Buy Canadian; To support ‘robbed’ skaters, fans seek maple leaf gear

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 14B

SALT LAKE CITY – When it appeared two Canadian figure skaters would have to unfairly settle for silver instead of gold, the reaction was swift. At least in the checkout lines of the official Canadian Olympic clothing store here.

“Americans were coming in saying, ‘You were robbed! We need a hat! We need a scarf! We need to support you!'” said the store’s assistant manager, Lisa Osachoff.

Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended boundary, but that hasn’t stopped them from occasionally eyeing each other warily. Americans worry about immigration standards across the 49th parallel. Canadians worry that Americans know nothing about their country beyond Alan Thicke and Celine Dion.

But these Olympics have brought the two countries together like little else in recent history.

“The Americans certainly supported our skaters when they needed it,” said Vancouver native Pete Holtkamp. “They almost adopted them.”

Osachoff said that about 70 percent of the Canadian gear she sells goes to American customers. That percentage has increased ever since last week’s pairs skating controversy, in which cute Canadian couple Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were denied gold by suspect judging.

“America’s a very patriotic country,” said Osachoff, a Calgary native. “So I think it’s great that there are all these Americans walking around with ‘Canada’ across their chest.”

Kari Albert of Reno, Nev., split the difference Friday: while standing in line to buy Canadian shirts, she wore a blue “USA 2002” baseball cap.

“We love the merchandise,” she said. “I think there’s the whole North America against the rest of the world mentality.”

Of course, there could be another factor at work: the red letter-jacket style of Canadian outfits are quite fetching, arguably better looking than their blue American counterparts. (Conspiracy theorists take note: both the Canadian and American gear was designed by Toronto-based Roots.) And all the media attention given to Sale and Pelletier – always decked out in their official Canadian swag – increased interest in the clothes.

But some Canadians found the support heartening, whether it’s geopolitical or color-coordinated.

“I think if the American media hadn’t raised a stink about [Sale and Pelletier], nothing would have happened,” said Nancy Uy, a Canadian citizen now living in suburban Salt Lake City. “It would have been ‘Too bad, so sad.’ Americans supported us.” But she notes that, had it been an American pair who had won the contested gold medal over the Canadians, “I doubt they would have reacted the same way.”

“We usually root for the U.S. if there aren’t any Canadians in the running,” her husband Anthony Uy said. (Their 13-month-old son Cooper is a dual citizen, although Tuesday his only external sign of national allegiance was a red-and-white maple-leaf pullover.)

Last week, when Canadian James Chambers started an online effort to make surrogate gold medals for Sale and Pelletier, almost a quarter of the emails he received were from America. “The response from our friends in the States has been incredible,” he said. “The typical American response was, ‘Is this a Canadian
project, or can Americans contribute too?'”

Everything seemed to be going great – that is, until hockey legend Wayne Gretzky poured a little cold water on the continental lovefest Monday. Gretzky, dealing with Team Canada’s disappointing 1-1-1 record, lashed out at the team’s critics, calling their jibes “American propaganda.”

“They’re loving us not doing well,” said Gretzky, an American resident since 1988. “I don’t think we dislike those other countries as much as they hate us. They don’t like us, they want to see us fail, they love beating us.”

Canada: focus of American hatred?

“Well, if it’s the U.S. against Canada in the gold medal game in hockey, I’m rooting for the Americans,” Albert said. “No question.”