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Success in Lake Placid

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Posted: Sunday February 20, 2000 10:42 PM

  Surya Bonaly Surya Bonaly's trademark backflips helped earn her the women's figure skating gold mdeal. AP

By Mark McKay, CNNSI.com

LAKE PLACID, New York -- The first Winter Goodwill Games have come to a close and from this reporter's vantage point they can be called a success. Lake Placid and the entire upstate New York region opened its arms and welcomed the athletes, media, and fans with enthusiasm. I'll always remember the smiling faces and kind greetings extended to me during my first ever visit to this former Olympic host city. Now I know what it must have felt like to take in the Winter Games of 1932 and 1980.

One of the lasting images of these Games, for me, will be the climax of the figure skating competition. Not only did we see a replay of the 1988 Calgary Olympics' gold, silver, and bronze medal finish in the men's competition ... the Brian, Brian, and Victor show was a mere prelude to the ladies event which saw Surya Bonaly strike gold for the very first time. The young Frenchwoman made a lasting impression with her on-the-ice backflip ... not once, but two night's in a row! Who will forget Dorothy Hammill, at age 43, back in a competitive event and joking with me afterwards, "at least I didn't finish last". Her warmth, charm, and kindness is genuine. Try as she might, Hamill may never shake the apt nickname "America's Sweetheart".

Here's a name to watch for ... "Jim Shea". The Lake Placid native was the Goodwill Games gold medalist in the skeleton. What's that you ask? It's an extreme sport which requires competitors to zoom down a luge-like course ... headfirst and on their stomachs! You talk about a rush! Shea is hoping to compete in the skeleton at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. If he's successful, the 31-year-old will follow in some impressive, family footsteps. Shea's grandfather was a two-time gold medal winning speedskater in the 1932 Olympics and his father competed as a cross-country skier in the 1964 Olympics. I'd say that's quite a bloodline!

If there was a 2000 Winter Goodwill Games flame, it would now be extingished. But the warmth of the people of Lake Placid and the surrounding communities will be eternal for those of us lucky to visit the place they call home.


 
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