The United States played two supporting roles in the International Ice Hockey Federation's decision to disqualify Sweden's Ulf Samuelsson for the remainder of the Nagano Games.
First and foremost, the 34-year-old New York Rangers defenseman holds a U.S. passport, which by law in Sweden nullifies his Swedish citizenship. That in turn makes him ineligible to participate as a member of Sweden's Olympic team.The IIHF met early Tuesday morning to disqualify Samuelsson, who said he didn't know the Swedish law and only had applied for U.S. citizenship to simplify his working situation in America.
Sweden appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which upheld the decision late Tuesday night.
The United States was a lesser figure in a second CAS appeal, coming from the Czech Republic.
When the IIHF made its announcement on Samuelsson's status, it also decided not force Sweden to forfeit its three round-robin games and instead allow the quarterfinal pairings to stand as had been determined before its ruling.
However, the Czech Republic demanded that IIHF policy be followed to the letter of the law and that Sweden forfeit its game and its seeding in the playoff bracket. Such a revision would have had the Czech Republic playing the weaker Belarus instead of the U.S., as the pairings are now set.
NO EXPLOSIVENESS FOR TNT: A lack of controversy is being blamed for low Olympics-coverage ratings by Turner Network Television (TNT), which has exclusive cable coverage of the Nagano Games.
"We would have hoped for higher ratings with the amount of time we put in," said Harvey Schiller, president of the Turner Sports division of the Turner Broadcasting System and former executive director of the United States Olympic Committee from 1990 to 1994.
The ratings are lower than both Albertville and Lillehammer.
"One reason is what is happening in TV, with increasing opportunities to view things,"
Schiller said. "People have more sophisticated viewing habits - they screen more."
"The second reason is that there is no real controversy at the Games - good or bad. Skating was a big story in 94 and hockey was in 92.
However, the network would be willing to be a cable carrier for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he added. "If we could continue our relationship with the broadcaster at the next (Winter) Games, NBC, we would do that."
AIRBORNE QUOTES: Park City resident Nikki Stone, who finished Monday's aerials eliminations in fourth place, plans an all-out aerial assault in Wednesday's finals. "I let it go in Lillehammer - I'm not letting it go here," she said. "Hopefully I can go out there and do my job Wednesday."
DUMMY UP: Canadian freestyle aerialist Vernoica Brenner isn't impressed with the landing skills of her Chinese counterparts in the men's and women's events - she calls them crash-test dummies. "They're good in the air, but they crash very hard every day," said Brenner. "We're more concerned about their safety than how they're going to do."
SICK BAY: U.S. freestyle aerialist and University of Utah student Mariano Ferrario suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and a ruptured patella tendon while falling in the second of two jumps during Monday's elimination competition. After swelling reduces in the next few days, Ferrario will return to Salt Lake City for surgery.
AROUND THE RINK: Tara Lipinski will stay in a hotel the night before the ladies' competition begins. "We always do that - no matter where we are before a competition," said her mother, Pat. Lipinski also will stay with her parents Thursday night, before Friday's long program . . . There is a slim chance that Lipinski may leave the athletes village if the flu bug continues to spread. Russia's Alexei Yagudin had an 102-degree fever Saturday night and finished fourth in the men's event. Germany's Tanja Szewczenko withdrew from the ladies' event with an illness, while Canadian Elvis Stojko, the men's silver medalist, said he came down the flu after the opening ceremony and hasn't been the same since . . . Lipinski had a manicure at the Olympic Village a few days ago and had her fingernails painted with gold polish . . . Stojko has no plans to turn professional right away. He might even remain in competitive skating until the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City . . . "There is a chance," said Stojko, 25. "Some people might laugh, but I believe it's mind over matter. There are still things I do well in this sport. Taking it to another level was always my goal." . . . Three-time world silver medalist Surya Bonaly of France attempted a quadruple jump earlier in the week. She didn't land it. "Four years from now at Salt Lake City, you'll see perhaps a girl try a quad (in the Olympics)," said Carol Heiss Jenkins, 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medalist . . . While Kwan's artistry and command on the ice has been applauded as legendary, 1984 men's Olympic champion Scott Hamilton said not to forget about Lipinski. "I love her programs," Hamilton said. "I think she's very finished. I think what might keep people from thinking she's an artistic skater is that jumps are a dominate focus of her program and she looks so young."
You heard right:
"The conditions are kind of sketchy. It's like jumping off mashed potatoes."
- U.S. freestyle aerialist Eric Bergoust, a medal favorite, describing less-than-ideal venue conditions.
Demur U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan, the favorite to win the gold medal in Nagano, once had a pig-tailed fling with the less than lady-like sport of roller hockey.
"A hundred and fifty boys - and one girl. Me! I loved it," Kwan recalled.
That is, until one day when one of the boys accidently roller-bladed over her fingers. Can you say career change?