Americans Disappointed To Learn Olympics Will Be Televised

NEW YORK—Although American citizens are proud of the athletes representing their country at the Turin Olympics and wish their team the best of luck, their patriotism does not translate into a desire to actually watch the events, according to informal studies conducted by NBC, the network that will televise this year's Winter Games. "It's important to almost 100 percent of the viewers of NBC, MSNBC, and our partner networks that Team USA does well, especially in high-profile sports such as hockey, figure skating, and skiing," said NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, whose network will provide 416 hours of coverage to as many as five times that number of people. "However, almost all those we spoke to said that they would be perfectly satisfied to see highlights and scores during commercial breaks on Law & Order, Fear Factor, and Late Night With Conan O'Brien." Although Ebersol admitted that the estimated numbers were low compared to the legendary Winter Games of the 1980s, he said they were almost double those from the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.

Olympic Committee Announces Judging Panels For Men's, Women's Ice Hockey

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—The International Olympic Committee announced Monday that final selections had been made for the panels that will judge ice-hockey teams in seven different categories, including technical achievement, overall impression, and artistic interpretation, during competition at the 2006 Turin Olympics. "It is an honor to be chosen to help usher in this exciting new era of international hockey, which finally takes its place alongside all other skating-based sports in using a more enlightened scoring system," said former Russian national team goalie Vladislav Tretiak, who will grade teams in the men's hockey events on their offensive and defensive performance in the crease and behind the net. "I look forward to working with the other 11 men and women on the panel, and urge viewers at home to enjoy judging the games themselves and comparing their results to ours." The new system is intended to be more fan-friendly, more intuitive, and less absolute than the old system, in which winners of hockey games were chosen based on points scored.

Nepalese Skier Upset There's No Medal For Getting Up The Mountain

TURIN, ITALY—Jay Khadka, a renowned Sherpa and Nepal's representative in the men's downhill skiing event, expressed disappointment Tuesday upon learning that the Olympic Committee would not be taking participants' time of ascent up the mountain and degree of route difficulty into consideration when awarding medals for the competition. "I have been training for what I believed to be the first half of this event for my whole life," said Khadka from his training base camp 8,000 feet up the sheer face of the Dolomite Mountains in the Italian Alps. "I climbed and skied down Everest three times in 2005 to ready myself. Now they tell me everyone else is taking a ski lift. I may as well just take my skis, poles, helmet, goggles, two pounds of dried food, signaling mirror, oxygen tanks, compass, and space blanket back down the mountain and go home." Khadka also informed Olympic officials that Austrian skiing legend Hermann Maier, whom Khadka was guiding up the mountain, would also not be competing in the event, as he died of frostbite about half a mile back.

Skeleton Competitor Remembers When It Was All About The Skeletoning

ALBANY, NY—Kevin Ellis, a veteran "slider" with the U.S. Olympic skeleton team known throughout the sport as an outspoken skeletoning purist, has called for the recent drug- and hype-afflicted sport to return to its skeletoning roots. "Back in the day, just skeletoning was enough… Skeletoning was its own reward," said Ellis, who himself makes up an estimated 2 percent of skeletoners in North America, at a bar not far from U.S. skeleton team headquarters. "Just to be skeletoning down the mountain, just you alone with your skeleton, and then to walk back up the mountain so you could skeleton down again… That's what skeletoning was all about. And it still should be." Ellis' statement captured the attention of Annette Fielding, the other skeletoner in the bar, and a group of skiers at a corner table who had decided to drink whenever Ellis said the word "skeleton."

U.S. Snowboarding Team Says Urine Is In Best Condition Ever

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—After a long training season during which team members' performance was carefully monitored and fine-tuned with the Olympics in mind, U.S. Olympic snowboarding coach Peter Foley said his athletes' urine should be more than competitive with that of any other nation in the world. "It's taken months of hard work, and in some ways we were forced to play against our strengths and deviate from the techniques that got us here, but I'd say our team's urine is as clear and pure as possible," said Foley, who attributed the team's urine's success to "nothing more than the athletic virtues of discipline, hard work, and self-denial." "We're ready to face up to any test the Europeans can throw at us in Turin." Although team members declined to speak to the press on urine-related matters, several were overheard saying their urine could not be expected to maintain its present level of conditioning for more than 15 minutes after the closing ceremonies.

Bobsledder Making Sure To Pick Just The Right Song For Routine

CONCAN, TX—Todd Hays, the driver of the U.S. two-man bobsled team, has spent all winter looking for the perfect song to accompany his bobsledding routine next weekend. "In a sport that depends just as much on the way the spectators interpret the performance as the physical maneuvering of a small metal sleigh down steep hills and through tight turns, the music you select is crucial," said Hays, who has narrowed his search to Blue Oyster Cult's hard-rocking "Burnin' For You" and Shania Twain's reserved-yet-hopeful "You're Still The One." "When I'm careening down the track in sub-zero weather at speeds approaching 90 mph, I want to faintly hear brief, wind-distorted fragments of a song that inspires me, that influences the way I drive, and that also allows me to have a little fun with it." Hays added that he has not ruled out commissioning the composition of an original piece for the event, as long as it speaks to who he is as a bobsledder.

Contractual Obligations With Skating With CelebritiesForce Figure Skater To Partner With Dave Coulier

LOS ANGELES—U.S. figure skater Rena Inoue announced Monday that, due to a stipulation in her Skating With Celebrities contract with the Fox network, she will be required to drop her traditional partner John Baldwin and compete in the Olympic pairs event with former Full House star Dave Coulier. "Although Dave and I have made a lot of progress on the show, and I am confident in our ability to outskate pairs like Tai Babilonia and Bruce Jenner or Jenni Meno and Todd Bridges, I'm not sure we're quite ready to compete against professionals like Russia's Maria Petrova and Aleksi Tikhonov just yet," Inoue said. "It's certainly going to be a challenge. Me and my real-life partner John have won two national titles and were the first pair in history to land a throw-triple-axel. Dave's still getting used to wearing ice skates." Inoue predicted that, despite the fact that Coulier has to hold her hand during the entire performance to stop himself from falling, they stand a fighting chance of outscoring Canada's Valerie Marcoux and her partner, the breakout star of Canadian TV's version of Skating With Celebrities, Rick Moranis.