- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

Noble: This week's U.S. gold medal performers. Trying to pick a single noble out of so many outstanding athletes would be a bit like attempting to select the most corrupt individual in a lineup out of pairs figure skating judges (more on that below).
Sarah Hughes, 16, pulled off the biggest upset in Olympic skating history, with a leaping program that included seven triple jumps five of them in combination. Her stunner was a jaw-dropping triple toe loop-triple loop combo.
No one considered speedskater Chris Witty a serious competitor in the women's 1,000 meters. After all, she was still recovering from mononucleosis. However, her fatigue didn't show for 1 minute and 13.83 seconds, the time it took for her to not only win the gold, but also to break the world record by .23 seconds.
It took a bit longer for surgeons to patch up the one-inch gash on the thigh of short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. He incurred the wound while tumbling to a disappointing silver medal in the men's 1,000 meters, but bounced, or at least skated back to win the gold in the 1,500 meters.
Long-track speedskater Derek Parra was another American who earned both a silver lining and a golden ending. After taking second in the 5,000 meter, he sprinted to a world record, and a gold medal, in the men's 1,500.
Perhaps the biggest surprise so far came from United States 2, the two-women's bobsled team that almost no one had even heard of. But the applause for gold medal winners Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken was deafening at the end of their slides heard round the world.
The perfect punctuation point was provided by third-generation Winter Olympian Jim Shea Jr., who won a gold medal in the skeleton. Jim had dedicated the games to the memory of his grandfather, sportsman and gold medal speed skater Jack Shea, who was killed shortly before the start of the games in Salt Lake City.
Those noble Americans and their outstanding performances are reminders of the perfection competitors are capable of under the pressure of incorruptible Olympic timepieces.

Knaves: The pairs figure skating judges.
Trying to pick a single knave out of a lineup of judges so apparently corrupted would be like trying to select a single outstanding American performer at the games.
French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne is easy to point a finger at. After all, she was the one who proclaimed she had been pressured by a British judge to cast a vote for the less than flawless Russian pair of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and then later decided that it was rather the Canadians who had pressured judges to vote for the flawless Canadian pair, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.
However, it's hard to blame skategate on Canada, and even harder to blame only the spinning judgment of Mrs. Le Gougne, who has experienced more confession confusion than Sara Jane Olson. After all, four other judges on the panel also cast their votes for the Russians.
Current allegations suggest that at least some figure skating judges were involved in vote swaps at least as complicated, (and probably as innocent) as the accounting swaps on Enron's balance sheets.



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