M&M;'s power Walker's push Fueled by junk food, Viking's sled is 9th


ALBERTVILLE, France -- Bread. Water. M&M;'s. French fries.

Herschel Walker calls this the diet of champions. In the world's culinary paradise, on the world's greatest sports stage, this millionaire athlete is dining on junk food and dreams.

Yesterday, the former Heisman Trophy winner, the running back from the Minnesota Vikings, made his debut as a pusher-brakeman in the two-man bobsled at the 1992 Winter Olympics. And he did it fueled by bread, water, M&M;'s and french fries.

On an icy, serpentine course in La Plagne, Walker took two rides with driver Brian Shimer, of Naples, Fla., in USA I, and was ninth in 2 minutes, 1.61 seconds.

"It's like we're down a field goal at halftime," Walker said, with the final two runs ahead today.

Uh, more like three touchdowns, Herschel.

Great Britain I (2:01.20), Italy I (2:01.23) and Austria II (2:01.33) led the way.

"I think we both were a little tentative -- the first-push jitters," Shimer said. "No, I wasn't happy with the time. I thought we'd be out front."

Their start times improved from 6.14 seconds on the first run to 6.09 on the second. But somehow, they lost momentum on their second ride down the icy slope.

"We're still in the hunt," an optimistic Walker declared, but Shimer was more cautious.

"It's going to be a battle to get back to the top."

The Americans haven't won an Olympic bobsled medal since taking the four-man bronze in 1956, and while they're not yet out of it this time, their task is imposing.

"Everybody's chasing each other," Walker said.

The USA II sled, piloted by Brian Richardson and pushed by Greg Harrell, of Columbia, Md., was 24th in 2:03.71.

By the time most of America wakes up this morning, the competition should be over, and the medals handed out. Walker plans to be on the podium.

"To each his own," Walker said. "I'm not into this psyche stuff. You can call me at 3 a.m. and I'm ready to compete."

The second run included a spectacular accident. The Puerto Rican No. 2 sled flipped over on a turn and slid upside down through several hundred feet of the track, trapping driver John Amabile and brakeman Jorge Bonnet inside.

Amabile walked off, but Bonnet was put in a neck brace and taken to the site's medical office with a slight concussion, bumps and bruises, Puerto Rican coach Rich Kolko said.

F: Prince Albert of Monaco was 43rd in the 46-sled field.

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