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FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS HOPE FOR STRONG GATE FOR FINALS

          The biggest crowd "so far" at the U.S. Figure Skating
     Championships held at the CoreStates Center was last night's
     6,453, but "neither the local organizing committee nor
     CoreStates people are concerned," according to Edward Moran
     of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS.  CoreStates Complex
     President Peter Luukko said "he expects the final total
     attendance to be the largest ever" for the event, topping
     the record of 114,444 in San Jose in '96.  He added that
     bigger crowds are expected for the Men's and Ladies' finals,
     which are tonight and Saturday night (DAILY NEWS, 1/8).  
          TALK SOUP: Campbell's has "cooked itself into a mini-
     controversy" by announcing it will feature U.S. champions
     Tara Lipinski, Michelle Kwan and Nicole Bobek on 140 million
     soup can labels and TV spots to run during the Nagano Games. 
     While Lipinski and Kwan "are sure things" for the Games, the
     third spot will be decided today and Saturday at the
     Championships.  Challenger Tonia Kwiatowski: "Anything can
     happen in skating, and you never know what.  So, for them to
     announce that, that's their choice.  But let's see if I can
     mix things up" (Phil Rosenthal, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/8).
          TWO STARS: Kwan and Lipinski are featured in THE NEW
     YORKER by John Seabrook, who writes the two "seem prepared
     for ice-princesshood in ways that Nancy Kerrigan and Oksana
     Baiul did not.  Both are named after mass-culture
     commodities -- Michelle for the Beatles song, Tara for the
     plantation in 'Gone with the Wind'" (NEW YORKER, 1/12).

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