- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Picabo Street has said out loud what other athletes only whisper to themselves: She wants to carry the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony tomorrow night for the Salt Lake City Winter Games.

"I hope I'm the one they see fit to carry it," the two-time Olympic medalist said at a news conference Tuesday. "It could certainly be the greatest moment in my career. I'm that patriotic."

The flag bearer for the U.S. team will be announced today.

Street, who is seeking a third Olympic medal when she competes in this year's downhill, said she was chosen by her teammates to carry the flag at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, but declined due to the lingering effects of a concussion from a crash a month earlier.

After making that decision, Street said she spent three days crying in her room.

Salt Lake City will be the last Olympics for the 30-year-old leader of the U.S. women's Alpine team and she's determined to make the most of it.

"I've got as good a chance as anybody at taking the gold," the Utah resident said confidently. "It's in my back yard. I'm comfortable. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Annan, Bush will attend

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will attend the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics the first time a U.N. chief will see the games start.

Annan was invited to the games by IOC director general Francois Carrard, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckard said.

"I am eager to join you in Salt Lake City to celebrate the commitment and the achievements of young people who are the true wealth of the Olympic movement and the communities they represent," Annan said in a statement.

Also, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher said President Bush will attend the Opening Ceremony.

Undercover sponsors

The $1.91billion price tag for the Winter Games was partially covered by record-setting donations from corporate sponsors who won't ever see their logos on NBC's television coverage.

"I think it's remarkable sponsors will pay $861million to help sponsor these games, and yet their name will not be within camera view," Salt Lake organizing chief Mitt Romney said.

Olympic rules ban advertising on the field of play, although sponsors can find plenty of other opportunities to promote their connection to the Games.

To cover the costs, the Salt Lake City Games raised more money from corporate sponsorships than any winter or summer Olympic games held since 1994.

While the Salt Lake and U.S. Olympic committees raised $861million in cash, services and donated products, only $500million of that supports the games' budget. The USOC keeps the rest.

The closest runner-up to Salt Lake City in sponsor revenue was the 1996 Atlanta Games, which raised $480 million.

Americans earn IOC posts

In a major boost for U.S. power in international sports, a Los Angeles business leader was elected vice president of the IOC and America's top Olympic official was chosen as a committee member.

James Easton, whose company makes aluminum baseball bats and arrows, easily won the vice presidency over Canada's Paul Henderson, 52-32. Easton's new position returns a U.S. member to the IOC's powerful executive board.

Sandra Baldwin, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, was chosen as a member of the IOC 69-25, with three abstentions.

Baldwin takes the seat formerly held by Bill Hybl, her predecessor as USOC president. Hybl's continuation on the IOC after his domestic term expired had been criticized by some Olympic leaders.

IOC officials said Easton's election was based on both his personal qualities and the desire to have an American voice on the board.

Son, pass the luge

Christopher Hoeger and his dad are doing something different this February: they're both competing for the Venezuelan luge team.

Werner Hoeger, 48, and his 17-year-old son will become the first father and son to compete in the same Olympic luge event when the competition opens Sunday.

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