The chief executive officer of the U.S. ski team, Howard Peterson, disclosed that he is looking for short basketball players who might be interested in becoming ski jumpers.
"We're combing the schools now looking for kids," Peterson said. "We're going to give prizes. For the first time, skiing is also searching the inner cities for kids to participate."
And keeping an eye on NBA rosters, too.
"I'd love to have Spud Webb," he said of the Sacramento Kings' 5-foot-7 point guard. "He'd make a great ski jumper. You can't be more than 120 or 130 pounds."
Peterson explained that jumping ability and size are the critical factors in ski jumping. "Anyone heavier than 130 pounds just won't go very far," he said.
Stop the presses
Sweden seems to be taking the success of Norway, its neighbor and friendly rival, and Sweden's own lack of it sort of hard. Expressen, the largest daily newspaper in Sweden, ran two blank side-by-side pages in its editions yesterday. The only words on the pages read: "This space was reserved for good Swedish results. Unfortunately there aren't any."
Olympic organizers became alarmed when consumption of toilet paper in the athletes' residence in Les Saisies far exceeded the average for the holiday center, the site of cross country skiing and biathlon.
Officials feared an outbreak of dysentery. No such problem.
The athletes were using the paper to wax their skis.
Art Devlin, a three-time Olympic jumper in the 1940s and '50s, says that modern ski jumpers just don't know how to do things right.
Devlin, who competed in the 1948, '52 and '56 Games, said that Americans train too much these days. He said that by the time they get to the Olympics, they are overworked and willing to settle for less because they're looking ahead to World Cup events.
"If I was 10th in a jump, I'd go home with my tail between my legs," Devlin said. "These boys don't have the old wahoo."
PHOTO "Olympia -- that's the marriage altar of the German sports wedding between east and west. Together we are even stronger." Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper.