Originally created 02/11/02

Olympic notebook



SALT LAKE CITY -- The medals plaza was packed with more than 18,000 people for the first presentation ceremonies, and silver-winning speedskater Derek Parra realized all the fans weren't there to see athletes.

"We're not sure if they're here for us or for the band," Parra joked as the Dave Matthews Band blared on stage.

Parra received a loud ovation when he received his medal Saturday night. The crowd cheered even louder when Matthews was introduced.

MONARCH CALLING: The king telephoned, but Johann Muehlegg couldn't take the call. Muehlegg, a German-born, naturalized citizen of Spain, received an honor few other Spaniards have - a congratulatory call from King Juan Carlos.

Muehlegg was in the drug testing area at the time.

He won the gold medal in the 30-meter cross-country, only Spain's third medal ever in the Winter Games and its second gold.

"I'm really sorry I missed the call, but it was a tremendous honor that he tried," said Muehlegg.

He did receive a telegram from the king saying, "This is a very important victory for Spanish sports."

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FLAG FUROR: Residents of a Salt Lake City condominium complex chipped in $11 each for 200 flags from 90 different nations so they could display them as a goodwill gesture.

Two Taiwanese flags instead brought complaints and a visit from Chinese diplomats.

Although Taiwan competes in the Olympic Games, it's national flag is banned at events under a long-established agreement to placate China.

Officials from China's Washington embassy visited the complex, about a half mile from the Olympics medals plaza, and asked that the Taiwanese flags be removed.

"It took a couple of times for them to understand that this is private residence, not a government building," resident Annetta Mower said. "We thought the idea of the flags was exciting. We had no idea that it would raise any kind of controversy."

Mower said residents do not intend to remove any flags.

Embassy First Secretary Dizhong Huang said Chinese officials, recognizing the right of private citizens in the United States to fly any flag they want, will not pursue a complaint.

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PASSING GRADES: So far, so good for athletes' drug tests. There have been no positives in more than 800 tests.

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BLUE FINN: When Samppa Lajunen won the Nordic combined, the Finnish flag he waved matched his hair, dyed powder-blue. He plays guitar in a band that also includes other members of Finland's ski team. The band name translates to "Guest Star."