THE ATHLETES ADVISORY COUNCIL to the United States Olympic Committee spent last weekend in the Salt Lake area, and they weren't exactly taken to the poor side of town. From the time the 37 athletes arrived Friday night - in time to see the Jazz clinch the Midwest Division title in the Salt Palace over the Houston Rockets - they were treated like the very important voters that they are.
From this group comes approximately 20 percent of the USOC vote that will determine the official American site that will be presented to the International Olympic Committee for 1998 Winter Games consideration.The athletes were treated to a postgame Jazz reception Friday night, where Karl Malone and Thurl Bailey appeared for Olympic high fives, and that started a weekend of luncheons, barbecues, dinners, banquets, heartfelt gifts, a mini-Olympics competition that included such unofficial sports as pool volleyball, and spectacular views of the Snowbird ski runs from the athlete's rooms at the Cliff Lodge.
In between all this, the AAC held its meetings, which were chaired by Mike Plant, the new council president who took over from Salt Lake Olympian Henry Marsh. Marsh turned over the presidential gavel after four years and who was instrumental in bringing the AAC to Salt Lake.
Said Marsh after the athletes dispersed Monday, "I think everyone was pretty impressed. It made quite an impact, holding a meeting and seeing people skiing outside the window."
Marsh said that four years ago, when Utah made its initial push to the USOC, the athletes were more inclined toward Anchorage, and when it came to the official vote, only two of the AAC's 18 votes went for Utah. And one of them was his.
"I think the mood has changed," he said. "The athletes feel Anchorage had (and has) more promise than substance, and Salt Lake has the substance."
And beyond that, Salt Lake is getting better at showing it off.
ADD OLYMPICS: The politicking doesn't stop with the Athletes Council. In less than two weeks, the USOC's site inspection team, an eight-member committee, will come to Utah to inspect the existing Winter Games facilities, and look at the plans for new facilities.
They can expect similar treatment as the athletes, and maybe more so. "They'll definitely be treated well," says Jill Remington of the Mayor Palmer DePaulis's office.
TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR: No sooner did the Salt Lake Golden Eagles fly home from Denver with their first-round Turner Cup 4-0 series sweep in hand than they got down to the business of having 10 days off before their next game.
Most members of the team descended on Rose Park Golf Course in Salt Lake for a round of golf while Coach Paul Baxter flew to Calgary for a week to watch the Flames in their second-round NHL playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings.
But even if the coach is gone, and the golf courses are open, it will be back to practice as usual Tuesday. Baxter left assistant coach Bob Francis in charge, and the Eagles are slated to practice daily between now and Apr. 26, which is the earliest they can start the second round against either Milwaukee or Kalamazoo.
"Nobody wants to get stale," said Eagles publicist Mark Kelly. "But when you consider that this is a team that played four games in the last five days, and seven in the last nine, they can use the rest."
KEEN INTEREST: New BYU basketball coach Roger Reid is yet to hire any assistant coaches, but he says that isn't because he hasn't had plenty of applicants.
"I've had at least 80 serious applications so far," he said Monday. "It's amazing how many people want to help BYU and Roger Reid be successful."
The new coach says he's had guys who have never coached express an interest, saying they'd be willing to switch careers.
"I figure it's either one of two things," said the longtime (11 years) BYU assistant. "Either they think it's a cake job, or they've got a lot of confidence in me. Probably it's the first one. I always thought that when there were 23,000 people in the stands, about 23,000 of them felt that being an assistant was a pretty easy job."
MOE'S WOE: If the Jazz meet Denver, which looks likely, in the first round of the NBA playoffs, they can always hope that the Nuggets show up at the Salt Palace the way they showed up at Seattle last Saturday night, where they were blown away, 125-92.
Said Nuggets Coach Doug Moe after the game, "It was a joke. To be honest, that's the worst performance I've ever been involved with at the pro level, as a coach or a player, in a big game. We totally didn't show up."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Pete Carril, Princeton basketball coach, on what he told his players after their 50-49 loss to heavily favored Georgetown in the NCAA tournament: "I told them, as bad as you feel, feeling this bad is better than never getting a chance to feel this bad."