SBD/2/Olympics

COUNTDOWN TO NAGANO: THESE WINTER GAMES HAVE SOME 'TUDE

          The Nagano Games open Friday and the media has begun to
     arrive in Japan.  The "most intriguing aspect of the Nagano
     Games may be a generational shift, represented by the
     prominence of under-30 athletes who come from non-
     traditional, even nonwinter, sports such as skateboarding
     and inline skating, and who carry nontraditional attitudes
     into the Winter Games," according to Jere Longman of the
     N.Y. TIMES.  In some aspects, the Games "will more closely
     resemble ESPN's X Games or the Grunge Games than a
     traditional Winter Olympics" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1).   
          CENTER ICE: In Philadelphia, Frank Fitzpatrick wrote
     the "centerpiece of these Games could well be the men's
     hockey tournament" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/1).  In N.J.,
     Mark Czerwinski wrote that unlike the NBA Dream Teamers,
     "When NHL players take the ice in Nagano, Japan, they won't
     be trying to sell sneakers or jerseys or french fries. 
     They're selling hockey, and the world is their target
     audience" (Bergen RECORD, 2/1).  In L.A., Helene Elliott
     wrote "don't confuse" the NHL Olympic program "with the
     NBA's Dream Team debacles" (L.A. TIMES, 1/31).  BUSINESS
     WEEK's Madigan & Hyman examine the potential boost from the
     Games.  CBS will profile NHL players in prime time, exposure
     which "could give a financial lift to rink stars who
     perennially trail other pro athletes in the endorsement
     category."  Agent Tom Reich: "The opportunities are going to
     be aggressively explored once the competition is over."  A
     "mild success" could give the league a boost as it sets to
     renegotiate its TV deal.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said
     that the league is happy with its relationship with Fox and
     ESPN, "but he wouldn't mind if ABC or CBS 'showed interest'
     at entering the TV talks" (BUSINESS WEEK, 2/9 issue).
          SHREDDING EVIDENCE: Snowboarding's debut continues to
     receive considerable media attention.  Rick Gentile, CBS
     Sports' Exec Producer of the Games: "We think snowboarding
     is going to be popular this year. ... We're going to have
     some young people out there who are snowboarders, who are in
     that world, who speak that language" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
     2/1).  NEWSWEEK's Debra Rosenberg writes that CBS plans to
     highlight snowboarding events.  But snowboarding "devotees
     fear that the sport could lose its soul in an Olympic
     avalanche of commercialism and red tape" (NEWSWEEK, 2/9).
          OUT OF THE PACK: In N.Y., Wayne Coffey offered his four
     U.S. "budding stars to watch" in Nagano: Women's ice hockey
     assistant captain Karyn Bye; Slalom skier Kristina Koznick; 
     Luge teammates Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin and
     speedskater Casey FitzRandolph (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/1).
     NEWSWEEK's Mark Starr writes that while new sports "may
     provide much of the excitement" -- men and women's ice
     hockey and snowboarding -- Michelle Kwan "appears destined
     for the Games' greatest glory" (NEWSWEEK, 2/9 issue).

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