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Olympic Notebook

February 21, 1992

MERIBEL, France (AP) _ The variety of venues in the ’92 Winter Games didn’t appeal to all the athletes.

Two veteran medalists in Thursday’s slalom, the final women’s Alpine event of the Olympics, said they didn’t care much for these Savoy-region Olympics and its 10 separate competition sites.

Gold medalist Petra Kronberger of Austria and bronze medalist Blanca Fernandez Ochoa of Spain each said they preferred the ambience of Calgary, site of the 1988 Olympics.

″To me, Calgary was the best,″ said Ochoa, who also competed at Lake Placid in 1980 and Sarajevo in 1984. ″We lived the Olympics together with the other athletes.″

″Here, I didn’t find a real Olympic atmosphere. We had nice housing, but they’re not feeding us very well.″

Kronberger recalled strolling around the Calgary Olympic village and coming across Katarina Witt, the two-time figure skating champion from Germany.

″Here was Katarina and she was such a world personality, and it was then I realized what a world melting of athletes the Olympics is,″ Kronberger said. ″I didn’t feel that here so much.″


.BUBBLY RUNS DRY:. The stock of champagne in Olympic winner Vegard Ulvang’s arctic home town of Kirkenes, Norway has run dry, according to news reports.

″Not since we opened up in 1975 have we sold so much in February ... stocks are virtually empty,″ Karstein Pedersen of the local state liquor shop told the national news agency NTB. The town of Kirkenes has about 4,500 residents and is about 750 miles north of Oslo.

Ulvang won gold in the men’s 30-kilometer and 10-kilometer cross-country skiing, and in the relay.

Norwegian media have made Ulvang a national hero. Interviewed at the games in Albertville, France, he said he was a little afraid to return home because of the excitement his medals have caused.


CLOSE-OUT SALE:. The hand-written notice first appeared on the bulletin board in the Albertville press center.

″Close-out sale,″ it said. ″Soviet training suits for sale. Offers of hard currency.″

Now the Unified Team, the athletes from the former Soviet Union are selling their suits bearing the Cyrillic CCCP for $150 each - twice the average annual salary in their homeland.

The Unified athletes have competed in the Olympics in their old Soviet colors, and some still sport badges bearing Lenin’s image.

″For 15 years, I have been wearing my country’s colors,″ said former hockey star Vladislav Tretiak. ″Now it is all gone. I can’t get used to it. That’s the way it is, but I feel sad.″


DUTCH ALL-AROUNDER:. Look out Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and all you other two-sporters. Here comes Bart Veldkamp.

Veldkamp, of the Netherlands, was still getting accustomed to wearing his Olympic 10,000-meter speedskating gold medal Thursday when he announced his next goal: making the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

After the speedskating season ends around April 1, the 24-year-old Veldkamp will try out for the Dutch Olympic cycling team. He’ll switch from the speedskating rink to the velodrome as he tries to make the Dutch pursuit team.

″It’s something I like to do,″ he said. ″It’s a chance, but only a small chance.″

His gold medal and brand-new cycling career should give him a couple more chapters for the book he’s writing. He’s already a Dutch hero and should become even bigger now that he’s the country’s first Olympic men’s speedskating gold medalist since Piet Kleine in 1976.

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