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Olympic Sponsors Foot Games’ Bill

February 6, 2002

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The $1.91 billion price tag for the Winter Games was partially covered by record-setting donations from corporate sponsors who won’t ever see their logos on NBC’s television coverage.

``I think it’s remarkable sponsors will pay $861 million to help sponsor these games, and yet their name will not be within camera view,″ Salt Lake organizing chief Mitt Romney said Wednesday.

Olympic rules ban advertising on the field of play, although sponsors can find plenty of other opportunities to promote their connection to the Games.

To cover the costs, the Salt Lake City Games raised more money from corporate sponsorships than any winter or summer Olympic games held since 1994.

While the Salt Lake and U.S. Olympic committees raised $861 million in cash, services and donated products, only $500 million of that supports the games’ budget. The USOC keeps the rest.

The closest runner-up to Salt Lake City in sponsor revenue was the 1996 Atlanta Games, which raised $480 million.

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SON, PASS THE LUGE: Christopher Hoeger and his dad are doing something different this February: they’re both competing for the Venezuelan luge team.

Werner Hoeger, 48, and his 17-year-old son will become the first father and son to compete in the same Olympic luge event when the competition opens Sunday.

The pair, from Boise, Idaho, both have Venezuelan passports; the elder Hoeger was born in Merida, Venezuela. Christopher Hoeger was born in Odessa, Texas.

The pair took up the sport four years ago when the Olympic luge track in Park City opened. When not on his luge, Christopher spends his time playing soccer or computer games. The elder Hoeger is a university professor who has written 38 books.

At last year’s world championships, Christopher finished 48th _ two spots ahead of his father.

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KEEPING IT CLEAN: Short track speedskater Apolo Ohno, who will compete for four gold medals in the Winter Games, is one of three American athletes starring in the latest anti-drug ads from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Joining the 19-year-old Ohno were snowboarder Rosey Fletcher and skier Chad Fleischer, whose Olympic hopes ended last month when he shredded his right knee last month in Switzerland. Fletcher, 26, is a two-time Olympian.

Ohno, the bandanna-wearing Sports Illustrated cover boy, talks about his rise to the top of his sport.

``Am I a speedskater? Yes,″ Ohno says in his ad. ``Could I have skated this far if I’d ever done drugs? Pleassssse.″

The 30-second ads will air nationally this week and throughout the Games.

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NEEDLES AND PINS: Olympic gold medal speedskater Johann Koss debuted three videos Tuesday that will air during the Salt Lake City Winter Games in an effort to raise money for vaccinating children.

Koss, president of the Olympic Aid fund, stars in one of the public service announcements, which also feature runner Marion Jones and figure skater Dorothy Hamill helping vaccinate children in Ghana. Olympic Aid has pledged $30 million over the next five years to the Vaccine Fund.

Koss, who won three gold medals in 1994, became known for his humanitarian efforts that year when he spearheaded a campaign that raised $18 million to build a hospital in Sarajevo and schools in Africa.

He said Tuesday that athletes should use their position as role models to help people, adding that he had never met an Olympian who refused to volunteer.

``I think that’s the spirit of the Olympic athletes and what people are standing for in this community,″ he said.

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LASER LUGE: The U.S. luge federation expects record speeds and times during the Olympics. According to a news release, the men’s singles racers could reach up to 100 mph.

The track at Utah Olympic Park is developing a reputation as one of the world’s fastest. In November, Tony Benshoof of White Bear Lake, Minn., posted runs of 90.8 and 91.8 mph.

``This track has all the elements to be fast,″ Benshoof said. ``Vertical drop, long sweeping corners and always perfect ice conditions make it ideal to set new speed records every time out.″

The fastest racer at the 1998 Nagano Olympics was Bengt Walden of Sweden, who was clocked at 82 mph.

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THE CANDY MAN: Former U.S. pilot Gail Horvorsen, a hero of the Berlin airlift known as the ``candy bomber″, will head the German delegation at the opening ceremonies.

Horvorsen, 80, began dropping his rations of chocolate and chewing gum down to German children from his plane in tiny self-made umbrellas during the 1948-49 Berlin airlift.

Afterwards, hundreds of his fellow pilots followed suit in the biggest airlift in history. France, Britain and the United States launched the operation when the Soviet Union cut off all land and water routes to West Berlin in an attempt to starve the western powers out.

Some 278,000 flights around the clock delivered 2.3 million tons of supplies to the city until the Soviets abandoned the blockade after a year.

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