Even before saying their last sayonaras at the Nagano Winter Olympics, some of the top U.S. athletes were already looking ahead to having a homefield advantage four years from now.
With the 2002 Games set for Salt Lake City, U.S. Olympians relish the thought of their events being contested on their own turf."I think it's going to be more fun at home and having a crowd that's cheering for you," said speed skater Chris Witty, who won a silver and a bronze in Nagano. "I can't wait for the next four years. We're going to have a good team. I predict in four years, we're going to have a lot of medals, I hope."
Figure skating silver-medalist Michelle Kwan is one athlete with fame and fortune awaiting her, but she's still taking an opportunistic approach on competing in Utah.
"Right now, I'm very interested in it," Kwan said. "I'm going to see how it goes right now and make my choices. It urges me to go on because it is in Salt Lake. I think it would be really nice having it on American soil. I think that's what makes it a little more exciting."
U.S. women's hockey captain Cammi Granato agreed: "I'd like to play again in Salt Lake City. It's so exciting to be playing hockey right now."
Salt Lake City is expected to host the largest-ever Winter Olympics, with a projected 3,500 participating athletes representing 80 countries. But the U.S. athletes are looking at other numbers - like having the majority of the crowd support.
"As far as having more Americans there, it will be great," said gold-medal aerialist Eric Bergoust of the U.S. fans. "It's going to feel good. But it will depend on when they get that jump site built and how often I get to train on it."
Other Americans are looking at Utah as the site to realized missed medal chances in Nagano.
Speed skater Casey FitzRandolph, a medal favorite until the clap skate exploded on the scene within the past year, was expecting Nagano to be the site of his swan song. Utah could be the site of a personal redemption.
"If that wasn't my game plan, I would be retired as of a week ago," FitzRandolph said.
"For the last three years, I have wanted to win in Nagano, and I've got a license plate on my truck back home that says `Gold98' that now I have to have changed."