The big news at the NCAA skiing championships last week in Bozeman, Mont. was an upset victory in the women's 7.5-km cross-country event by a relative newcomer to the sport, University of Vermont senior Beth Heiden. Yes, that Beth Heiden. Having won the world speed-skating championship in 1979 and the world bicycling championship in 1980, Heiden skied competitively for the first time only after enrolling at Vermont in the fall of 1981. Yet she made it to the top in college skiing in quick and certain fashion, winning the 7.5-km event in 26:16.7, more than six seconds ahead of runner-up Wendy Reeves of Middlebury College.
Heiden says that her successes in cycling and, now, skiing weren't meant to compensate for the disappointment she suffered in skating at the Lake Placid Olympics, where she was favored to win a gold medal in the 3,000-meter event but settled for a bronze medal while older brother Eric was winning five golds. Heiden says she decided to take up cross-country skiing only because it "looked like a fun thing to do." She finished her first season at Vermont with a 15th-place finish in the 7.5-km race at last year's AIAW championships (with the demise of the AIAW, the NCAA now stages a combined women's and men's championship) and improved steadily this season before her big win in Bozeman.
In explaining Heiden's success, Vermont cross-country Coach Perry Bland says, "She has done her homework conditioning-wise, plus she has a real good motor." Although Bland notes that there's "a pretty good crossover" from ice skating to her new sport, Heiden emphasizes the differences. "Learning to transfer weight was a major problem," she says. "In skating we worked on keeping weight on the heels because you get more power that way. All of a sudden they say to me, 'Hey, weight on the toes. You'll get a better push.' It just didn't sound right. And at first my back got really sore. Everybody thinks skating makes your back strong, but it doesn't, really, because you're in that one position. With skiing, when you double-pole, you're going up and down. Oh, boy, that really killed me."
The 23-year-old Heiden, an honors student in physics, is probably still only a long shot for the 1984 U.S. Olympic ski team. But on the strength of her NCAA victory, she says she may well pursue competitive skiing beyond college as a member of one of the factory teams that compete on the cross-country circuit.
THE USFL'S TATTERED RULEBOOK
Not content with having violated its own rules about holding team payrolls to $1.6 million and prohibiting the signing of underclassmen and players on NFL rosters, the USFL last week breached its regulations governing jersey numbers. Under the league's standardized numbering system, wide receivers were supposed to wear numbers in the 80s, but two of its biggest stars, the Michigan Panthers' Anthony Carter and the Chicago Blitz' Trumaine Johnson, wore their college numbers, 1 and 2, respectively, in the opening games two weeks ago. Along with other players who ignored the rules, they were ordered by USFL headquarters to change to accepted numbers. When Carter continued to resist, the USFL backed down and decreed that two players on each team could henceforth be exempt from the league's numbering system.
The USFL is hardly the first league to play loose with its rulebook, of course, and as a new entity struggling to find its way, it may be excused for sometimes practicing expediency over strict constructionism. At the same time, the wholesale disregard for its own rules threatens the very credibility—a favorite word in discussions of the new league—that it's trying to build. The USFL can best establish that credibility by settling on rules it can—and will—live with.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Doreatha Conwell, the star center for the girls' basketball team at Locke High in Los Angeles, has a tricky first name. In the program for last year's regional tournament, it was spelled Doretha, which is also how it's listed in her official high school records. In a press release last month before the start of the city tournament, it was given as Doreathea. In the program for the semifinals, it was Dorothea. But after a game two weeks ago between Locke and Kennedy High for the city's 4-A championship, Los Angeles Daily News writer Eric Sondheimer put the question of the misspellings in perfect perspective. Doreatha, a 6'3" junior, came up with 17 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocked shots to lead Locke to a 46-44 win, prompting Sondheimer to conclude, "As far as Kennedy was concerned, her first name could have been spelled Kareem."