Warner in driver's seat, doing bobsledding color


SALT LAKE CITY - Bonny Warner, the veteran bobsled driver whose ride to the Olympics was derailed by the athletic equivalent of corporate raiding, found a soft landing.

Warner, who did commentary during the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan, will resume that line of work for NBC. She will be providing the color for her event.

"They realized that bobsled is going to be a huge story, and who can tell it better in an objective format than me?" she said.

But given the soap opera that surrounded the selection of the women's team, can Warner bite her tongue?

"I can be objective for two minutes," she said, smiling.

Certainly, Warner has the experience. An 11-year veteran of the U.S. luge team, she came out of retirement to take up the bobsled when a women's competition was added for the 2002 Olympics.

She tutored both of the brakemen who will compete in the games, Gea Johnson and Vonetta Flowers. Those women were pirated away just before the team trials in December, leaving Warner to scramble for a backup.

Warner, a United Airlines pilot, finished a disappointing third in the trials behind drivers Jean Racine and Jill Bakken, and spoke with bitterness afterward.

Then, she sat through the messy arbitration hearing when brakeman Jen Davidson complained that Racine unfairly removed her in favor of Johnson.

After hearing all of the testimony, Davidson withdrew her complaint.

Warner said it took her a month and a half to accept what happened.

"Maybe God decided the best role for me is to explain the sport," she said.

She said she's not going to hold a grudge against her former team mates.

"I do wish them well," she said "I want the U.S. to win medals, bu I want the Germans to win medals too...I just want to be passionate."

Disappearing act

It's hard to hide the 11,000-foot Wasatch Mountains at the edge of town, but a new temperature inversion has done just that.

Cold surface air is being held in place by a lid of warmer air and high pressure. Vehicle exhaust and industrial pollutants have collected under the lid and will stay there until a storm blows them away.

An inversion during the December holidays lasted three weeks, and this one has been building over the past week. While the condition has robbed tourists and the television audience of a view of the rugged backdrop, in the mountains above the smog, where the outdoor events will take place, the sky is a deep blue.

Well-designed medals

The design of the Winter Games medals is getting high marks around the Olympic Village, but it should be.

Athletes were asked what they wanted to see on the medals, and some of their ideas were incorporated into the final product.

"They told us to make the rings visible and make it interesting to hold," said Mitt Romney, head of the organizing committee.

The medals aren't round, and look like they were rough-cut from rock. Each one weighs about a pound and a half - the heaviest ever - a response to the athletes' request that they wanted to feel a significant "tug around the neck." They are plated in gold, silver or bronze from Utah.

Walk this way

Thousands of maps that were to be handed out by the Salt Lake City Convention and Visitors Bureau and Olympic volunteers had to be recalled when it was discovered someone had done some unauthorized urban renewal.

The maps placed Rice-Eccles Stadium, site of the opening ceremony, about seven miles outside of town, moved several popular restaurants and watering holes and put a bar right across the street from the governor's mansion.

WTC flag will fly

The tattered flag from the World Trade Center will fly over the Winter Olympics, but U.S. athletes won't carry it into the opening ceremony, as planned.

The IOC rejected the U.S. Olympic Committee's request to have five athletes and an official carry the flag that was recovered after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Instead, it will be raised next to the Olympic flame during Friday night's opening ceremony at Rice-Eccles Stadiurn, serving as the official U.S. flag.

2010 candidates

The International Olympic Committee yesterday announced the list of candidates to play host to the 2010 Winter Olympics: Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Andorra; Bern, Switzerland; Harbin, China; Jaca, Spain; Pyeonchong, South Korea; Salzburg, Austria; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The IOC will vote next year on a site.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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