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Kasper grew up outside Montreal, and he idolized the Canadiens' fine defensive forward Bob Gainey. In junior hockey he prepared for his future career by shadowing future Chicago Black-hawks star Denis Savard. The Bruins called Kasper up in 1980, and his first game was against the Oilers. Gerry Cheevers, who was the Boston coach at the time, told him, "Steve, you're going to check Gretzky tonight. See what you can do." Recalls Kasper, "I shut him down pretty good, and we won, so I've had him ever since."
Kasper is almost embarrassed at how well he holds Gretzky in check. He has never spoken to Gretzky, but if he did, he would tell him how much he admires him. "Although we play the Oilers only three times a year," says Kasper, "I see him on cable all the time. He's incredible, frightening. Most guys go 45 seconds and want off the ice. He does three-minute shifts. I'm not sure why I do so well against him. I am in total awe."
1. In 1983 Richard Muller, a University of California physicist, and two associates formulated the theory that a companion star to the sun passes through the comet-filled Oort cloud every 26 million to 30 million years, sending a shower of comets toward Earth. That would explain the extinction of the dinosaurs. Not to worry. The star, which Muller named Nemesis, is not due to pass through the Oort cloud for another 15 million years or so.
2. Walter Hagen won two U.S. Opens and four British Opens, but he never won those tournaments when Bobby Jones was entered. Jones, on the other hand, won four U.S. Opens and three British Opens with Hagen in the field.
3. Rich Brooks has been involved in 20 Oregon-Oregon State football games as an Oregon State player and assistant coach and as head coach at Oregon. His record is 18-0-2.
4. Renaldo Nehemiah defeated Greg Foster in 28 of 34 110-meter hurdles races from 1978 to '82.
Attention, class. According to A Guide to the Gods*, by Richard Carlyon. "When the Persians invaded Greece, they brought with them a block of fine marble from which they intended to carve a victory monument. They met the Greeks at Marathon, and were badly beaten. The Greeks captured the block of marble and from it carved a statue of Nemesis. It was an elegant comment on the character of the goddess, as well as a wise gesture of propitiation."
Marathons are forbidding enough. But to Norwegian distance runner In-grid Kristiansen, Nemesis probably looks a lot like Joan Benoit Samuelson, Kristiansen's friend and archrival. The two have raced against each other in three marathons, and Samuelson has won all three, including the 1984 Olympic marathon, though Kristiansen holds the women's world best time of 2:21:06. To get over her mental block before a race with Samuelson, Kristiansen plays a fanciful taped broadcast of a marathon in which she wins.
Foster had Nehemiah, high jumper John Thomas had the Soviet Union's Valeri Brumel, Sebastian Coe had the 800 meters, and Fernando Mamede of Portugal has himself. Mamede, the world-record holder in the 10,000 meters, panics in big races. Before the '83 World Championships in Helsinki, Mamede, eyes glazed with fear, asked the eventual winner, Alberto Cova of Italy, "What are we doing here?" He finished 14th. Halfway through the Olympic 10,000 meters in Los Angeles, Mamede peeled off from the pack and disappeared into a Coliseum tunnel. Angry Portuguese fans subsequently burned his sporting goods store in Lisbon.