- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2002

From combined dispatches
Canada's latest Olympic hockey crisis worsened yesterday when coach Pat Quinn revealed that captain Mario Lemieux is bothered by a sore hip.
Lemieux, who has denied for weeks he was hurting, skated at practice as the Canadians tried to regroup from a 5-2 upset loss to Sweden on Friday. The defeat set off waves of panic among the country's hockey faithful, with newspaper headlines that included, "Oh, no, Canada" and "Woe Canada."
Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky called the loss by a team seeking its first gold medal in 50 years "devastating, terrible." Quinn didn't offer many reassuring words when he said Lemieux who was expected to be an offensive force in his first Olympics might not play tonight against Germany.
Lemieux, whose mid-November hip surgery forced him to sit out for two months, clearly seemed off his game in the 10 days leading up to the Olympics, unable to skate or turn at full speed. He didn't have a goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins' last five games before the Olympics.
The 36-year-old Lemieux has rarely played as poorly in his on-and-off 18-year career as he did Friday. He took only one shot while looking visibly uncomfortable on the big international ice, unable to keep up with the fast Swedish forwards.
Quinn said it is Lemieux's decision whether he will play, but that he is certain he will play tomorrow night against the defending champion Czech Republic. The Czechs eliminated Canada with a shootout victory in the 1998 Nagano Olympics after Canada breezed through its first four games.
"He said he planned to play [tonight], but we'll stay in close touch," Quinn said. "You also want to use caution. It's one of those things we'll talk about tomorrow."
Asked what Lemieux's problem was, Quinn said, "The hip and the groin the problem he has been experiencing for a while now."
Lemieux, who did not talk to reporters, was getting treatment.
Quinn also made some adjustments in Lemieux's line that would indicate Lemieux might not play tonight, moving Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros alongside Paul Kariya, with Lemieux moving in occasionally. Joe Sakic, who skated on the Lemieux line Friday, worked with Simon Gagne and Jerome Iginla.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur will replace Curtis Joseph in the starting lineup tonight.

Canadians to get gold in ceremony tonight
Jamie Sale and David Pelletier will get their gold medals in pairs skating tonight, and their Russian co-champions will take part in the ceremony.
The silver medals originally awarded to the Canadians, meanwhile, have been returned "to the coffers of the IOC," International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard said.
The special medal ceremony, which had been tentatively set for Thursday night, instead will be held after the original dance program at the Salt Lake Ice Center, the IOC said. No other medal ceremonies are scheduled in figure skating today.
"We have said from Day 1 we are acting on behalf of the athletes, and that this matter should be resolved quickly," Carrard said. "That is the only reason."
He said that NBC was involved "not at all" in the decision, which places the medal presentation in prime time on what is an otherwise light night at the Olympics.
"This was entirely our call," he said.
Carrard said details remained to be worked out.
Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze will take part, with both the Russian and Canadian anthems played, according to Russian Olympic Committee official Sasha Rattner.
Rattner said Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze would participate "since it is an official medal ceremony." He also said his committee was unconcerned with the order in which the anthems are played.
It was not known if bronze medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China would attend the ceremony.

Pass the hat
It's been a long time between Olympic hat tricks for the U.S. men's hockey team 18 years to be precise.
John LeClair's three goals in a 6-0 victory over Finland on Friday night was the Americans' first hat trick since Pat LaFontaine scored three times in a 7-3 win against Austria on Feb. 13, 1984.
LeClair was a perfect example.
In 1998 at Nagano, the United States went home without a medal and LeClair, who plays the Philadelphia Flyers, was scoreless. Against Finland, LeClair parked himself in his favorite spot in front of the opposing goalie.
"All his goals, he was right where he's supposed to be," defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "That's his house there, right in front."

Big-time baggage
In these days of heightened airport security, figure skaters never know whether they'll have to part with their precious ice skates when flying to their next competition.
"It changes from airport to airport," said Robin Wagner, coach of American medal hopeful Sarah Hughes, who arrived in Salt Lake City yesterday. "At times, we're not able to take them. This time, we were begging and I was explaining that she is an Olympian."
Hughes, who was training in Colorado, was allowed to bring her skates on board.
Wagner said skaters might begin taking two pair of broken-in boots and blades with them, just in case one pair gets doesn't show up at baggage claim.
When Hughes competed at the Lalique Trophee in November, she had to check her skates. "You can't imagine the anxiety when you're watching that carousel go round and round, until you see the skates come out," said Wagner.

Special medal given
Drake Self lost a fingertip, then gained a medal.
Self, the volunteer worker who lost a half-inch of his right index finger earlier this week when he tried to grab an out-of-control sled, was awarded a medal by luge representatives at a special ceremony.
He sliced his finger trying to stop Iginia Boccalandro's luge after she fell off and slid down the course. Self tried to stop the 50-pound sled after it began sliding back toward the luger, who was still on the course.
Self, 49, an upholstery shop owner in Logan, Utah, said he probably won't be able to return to work for several months. He has, however, continued to man his post at the Olympics.

A dog-eat-dog Games
The Olympic adrenaline is flowing in Wisconsin, and not just over the speedskating bronze won by native son Kip Carpenter.
Workers at Usinger's Famous Sausage in Milwaukee are racing full speed to grind out hot dogs to meet the games' voracious appetite.
After the supply for the entire Olympics 400,000 dogs lasted just five days, organizers ordered 250,000 more.
"It's a perfect time of the year for this to happen to us," said Debra Usinger, director of retail operations.

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