Olympic trivia for Valentines Day

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

Today's TV schedule

All times EST

NBC 4-5 p.m. -- Snowboard; women's parallel giant slalom (qualifying).

NBC 8 p.m. -- midnight -- Figure skating: men's long program. Alpine skiing: women's combined. Speed skating: women's 500 (2nd of 2 runs). Snowboard: men's parallel giant Slalom (qualifying). Nordic combined: K90 team jumping.

MSNBC 1-6 p.m. -- Cross country: men's pursuit. Curling: U.S. women vs. Denmark.

CNBC 6 p.m.-midnight -- Ice hockey, women: U.S. vs. China. Curling: U.S. men vs. Switzerland; U.S. women vs. Switzerland.

Surprise winner

How surprised was Travis Mayer to win the silver medal in Tuesday's men's mogul finals?

Well, considering that the 21-year-old Mayer didn't even think it necessary for his parents to buy Olympic tickets, yeah, you could say the Steamboat Springs, Colo., was a little surprised to finish second on the final run of the competition.

"A couple months ago I'm on the development team thinking there's no chance I'm going to be here,'' Mayer said. "But in December, things started coming together. I got some results, got some confidence, and here we are. But once I got to the Games I just focused on having good time, enjoying myself and putting together some good runs.''

Check your guns here

It's not a real good idea to bring firearms to these security-conscious 2002 Winter Olympic Games, unless you happen to be a policeman, Marine, special forces Ranger, Secret Service agent or a biathlete.

The Anschutz .22-caliber target rifle is the standard for the sport that combines cross country skiing and shooting, and the athletes who carry them go through a more extensive screening process than do the spectators who are only suspected of carrying weapons.

Every rifle on the team -- and team members sometimes carry as many as three in their equipment, depending on the weather -- has to be logged on a manifest. That list is checked by security agents against the actual equipment brought into the Soldier Hollow venue.

Every round of live ammunition also has to be accounted for. The manifest presented at check-in is scruntinized, and a competitor is expended to account for his ammo expenditure at check-out. Even shots fired while zeroing in the sights during warm-ups must be counted.

Today's Olympic lesson

The Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake area were a deeply religious but renegade bunch who were often at odds with government authorties.

Tensions heighted in the mid 1850s when they tried to establish their own state and the federal government rejected it. They intensified when President James Buchanan heard reports that Mormons were doing strange things, mainly practicing polygamy (a man having more than one wife).

Buchanan sent federal troops to Utah to bring the citizens into compliance with accepted laws. This became known as the "Utah War." It ended when Brigham Young took 20,000 Mormons from Salt Lake to the nearby settlement of Provo for a last stand. The standoff ended with a negotiated settlement and federal troops suddenly had other priorities when the Civil War broke out.

The commander of the federal troops was Albert Sidney Johnston. Ring a bell? He was one of the leading Confederate generals in the Civil War and his death at Shiloh represented one of the turning points in the war in the West.

Neat to know

Mormons officially are against drinking caffeine, which means coffee, colas or tea. That means that certain soft drinks are banned on official Mormon grounds, including the campus of Brigham Young in Provo. They are easily available everywhere else.

Pop quiz

The United States has never won a medal in three traditional Winter Olympic sports. Name them. (Yesterday's answer: The first Winter Games were held at Charmonix, France).

Story time

In 1956, Tony Sailer of Austria had won the slalom and the giant slalom and was seeking an alpine sweep in the downhill but had to pull himself up by his bootstraps first.

The straps on his ski boots broke. No competitor had a spare. Sailer was on the verge of withdrawing and Austrian ski officials were freaking out over the circumstances. A trainer for the Italian team, Hansl Senger, happened to pass by and noticed the panic and in Good Samaritan fashion, gave Sailer the straps off his boots.

Sailer won the downhill, shrugging the circumstances off saying, "I had at least 10 minutes to find another strap."

Name Game

Name the country by its official Olympic initial: SUI. (Yesterday's answer:

ISL is Iceland).

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