Originally created 02/10/02

Olympic notebook



Today's TV lineup (All times EST)

NBC 3-5 p.m. -- Snowboard: women's halfpipe. Speed skating: women's 3000.

NBC 8-11:30 p.m. -- Alpine skiing: men's downhill. Snowboarding: women's halfpipe final. Luge: men's singles (first two of four runs). Nordic combined: 15-K cross country, individuals.

CNBC 6 p.m.-midnight -- Ice hockey, men: Austria vs. Germany; Latvia vs. Slovakia.

Saturday's U.S. highlights

--Shannon Bahrke, coming back after fighting a difficult staph infection in 1999 and 2000, placed second in the women's moguls finals. American teammates Hannah Hardaway and Ann Battelle took fourth and seventh, respectively.

--Speed skater Derek Parra broke a world record that held up less than half an hour in the men's 5,000-meter final. His 6:17.98 performance was later bettered by Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands, who won the gold in 6:14.66.

Fame is fleeting

Derek Parra wasn't especially disappointed that his world-record performance in the men's 5,000 meter speed skating finals didn't hold up for a gold medal performance.

The highly decorated former roller skating champion, whose day job is at Home Depot, came into the Games not imagining he would leave with a medal.

"To be here on the medals podium is incredible," Parra said after receiving his silver medal, the second won by Americans on Saturday. "Today was definitely a surprise for me. I just wanted to be in the top five."

As elated as he was after skating a world record 6:17.98 on the Utah Olympic Oval ice, Parra wasn't really that surprised when Dutchman Jochem Uytdehaage lowered the standard and won the gold less than 30 minutes later.

"To break a world record, it says a lot for the ice here," Parra said. "The world record wasn't even in my thoughts, but it all just came together."

It was the second big event of Parra's life in a 24-hour period. On Friday night, he was part of the American group that carried the World Trade Center flag into the Opening Ceremonies.

"I was still emotionally pumped from that experience," he said.

Protestors arrested

Salt Lake City police arrested five protestors prior to Friday night's Opening Ceremonies at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The five women were arrested when they broke from a designated protest area near the motorcade route of President George Bush, then refused an order to return, police officials said.

The arrests happened in full view of several buses carrying media members to the Olympic Stadium. When reporters and photographers tried to exit the bus to cover the arrests, they were immediately ordered to return to their vehicles.

Today's Olympic lesson

Ever tasted ocean water? Ever spit out ocean water after you've tasted it?

That stuff is mild compared with The Great Salt Lake, the geographical landmark that provides the setting for these Olympics.

The Great Salt Lake, the largest body of water between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, is eight times saltier than the ocean.

The lake is all that remains of Lake Bonneville, a huge, deep, freshwater lake that 50,000 years ago took up much of what is now western Utah and parts of Nevada and Idaho. Earthquakes and the shifting terrain have left the Great Salt Lake without a source and the water in it has nowhere to go.

The land it occupies is heavy in mineral deposits, particularly sodium. The lake is estimated to hold more than 5 million metric tons of sodium chloride. It is so salty that it is almost impossible for a person to drown in the water because the high concentration of salt will keep him afloat. Of course, he would have to be careful not to choke on the salt.

The salt you sprinkle on popcorn at the movies may have come from the Great Salt Lake as it is a key resource for major salt companies.

Just curious

Are there any fish in the Great Salt Lake? It is so salty that only brine shrimp (commonly used for fish food) can live there.

Neat to know

The Mormon Temple, another of the centerpieces of the Olympics, took 40 years to build. It was built out of 5,600-pound blocks of granite that were transported 25 miles by teams of oxen.

Story time

One of the worst hockey teams in the history of the Winter Olympics was the 1980 Australian team. In losing all six matches, it was outscored 88-10. In the team's final game against Finland, Ivor Vesley built up a full head of steam for a possible follow shot after the Aussies' only goal. His momentum carried him straight into the iron crossbar, knocking him out. He had to be taken to a hospital.

Maybe they gave him a stuffed kangaroo for stress.

Pop quiz

What was the host city of the last Winter Games in 1998? (Answer Monday)

Name game

Like airports, participating nations in the Olympics are known by their initials. In the next few days, see how many countries you can recognize from the initials. We'll start with an easy one: GRE. (Answer Monday)

Quote of the day

"Moguls scare the hell out of me." U.S. freestyle skier Shannon Bahrke, a silver medalist Saturday in the women's moguls, on why she was initially reluctant to switch from alpine skiing to moguls.