The official website for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City contains plenty of treasures—and you can enter it through two doors. Those coming via nbcolympics.com will open to stories and features geared to the interests (e.g., figure skating and hockey) of the U.S. audience. Olympics.com (also available through saltlake2002.com) will be more global on its home page, which might focus one day on ski jumping (especially popular in Japan) and another on cross-country skiing (all the rage in Scandinavia). "Ninety percent of the information is the same on both sites," says Tom Feuer, the coordinating producer. "Only the front pages will be different."
Like the Sydney edition, this combined site (now run by Microsoft after the 2000 Games' producer, Quokka, folded last April) is loaded with athlete biographies. Almost 800 were posted as of Sunday, and sketches on all 2,500 athletes at the Games will be up by the time the flame is lit, on Feb 8. This site will feature faster-running software than did the one for the Sydney Games. The upgrades include Flash animation to help demonstrate such maneuvers as figure skating's quadruple jump; interactive timelines illustrating trends, such as the progression of speed skating world records; and Be Here cameras (first seen during last season's NBA Finals), which put a user in the middle of an event and allow him or her to manipulate the view by zooming in or swiveling up to 360 degrees.
Feuer says that nbcolympics.com won't withhold results from events whose telecasts are tape-delayed. When an event is shown live, he says, the NBC site will supplement the broadcast with interactive features, like one that will permit fans to be their own judges of the figure skating competition. At those times olympics.com will continue with general coverage.