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Winter Olympic briefs

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SHEA'S LAST LAP: Jack Shea took one final lap around the speedskating oval he made famous.

The hearse carrying Shea's casket made the slow journey Friday, almost 70 years to the day that he became the first double gold medalist in Winter Olympics history.

Many mourners cried, but the solemn moment suddenly turned joyful as two of Shea's grandchildren — Jim Shea Jr. and his sister, Sarah — began to cheer.

Scores of children who took time out from their classes then joined in, screaming and waving American flags as the hearse neared the same finish line that Shea crossed in victory at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics.

"Everything was real quiet for a while," said Jim Jr., who will compete in skeleton at the Salt Lake City Games. "But when he came around that last bend, I saw all the kids from the high school sitting there and I just started yelling like crazy. Then everybody started yelling, 'Come on Jack! Come on Jack!' I lost my voice."

Shea, 91, died Tuesday after a car accident a day earlier. He was America's oldest living Winter Olympics gold medalist and patriarch of the first family to produce three generations of Winter Olympians. His son, Jim, competed in three skiing events at the 1964 Innsbruck Games.


TOP U.S. AERIALIST OUT: Freestyle aerialist Emily Cook, the top American qualifier in her sport, will miss the Olympics because of a pair of dislocated bones in her left foot.

Cook hurt herself jumping at an Olympic qualifying competition in Lake Placid, N.Y., last week.

The 22-year-old Park City resident was named to the Olympic team Tuesday, but after two exams this week, she was told she would not be ready to jump by Feb. 16, when the women's aerials begin.


SKIERS ADMIT DRUG PROBLEM: In a moment of frustration and disgust, U.S. Olympic Nordic skiers admitted this week that their sport has a drug problem.

Barely two weeks away from the start of the Salt Lake Games, Justin Wadsworth of Bend, Ore., said Wednesday: "Doping is really prevalent in our sport. It's to the point you almost don't want to compete because it makes you so sick."

Last February, six of Finland's best cross-country skiers were caught at the Nordic world championships using a banned agent that could mask performance-enhancing drugs. They forfeited one gold and two silver medals and were suspended for two years.

The Baltic News Service reported Wednesday that cross-country ski star Kristina Smigun, Estonia's best Olympic medal hope, tested positive on a sample. An Estonian ski official denied Smigun used banned substances. KLUG CLINCHES BERTH: Three more snowboarders clinched spots on the U.S. Olympic team at the final parallel giant slalom qualification meet Thursday in Kreischberg, Austria.

Chris Klug, an 1988 Olympian, and Peter Thorndike made the men's alpine team, while Lisa Odynski will compete for the women. Selection was based on a rider's two best results in five designated races.

Klug, who underwent a liver transplant in July 2000, was mired in eighth place among American men until but earned enough points in the last two contests to earn a spot. He is touted as a top medal hopeful.

Thorndike and Odynski will be going to the Olympics for the first time.

Figure skating

RUSSIANS FEAR FOR FUTURE: Behind the high walls of a former Soviet sports camp, the vaunted Russian figure skating machine is at work.

A world-renowned trainer, famed for the number of athletes she has coached to gold medals, watches in a long fur coat as a potential Olympian faultlessly lands a quadruple jump, pumping the air with his fist.

They share the rink with another strong Olympic contender, whose coach pushes him to practice a difficult jump "still one more time."

More than any other country, Russia knows what it takes to produce figure skating champions. But, increasingly, it isn't being done at home, making this sort of scene a rarity.

Many of Russia's top figure skating coaches have packed up and left, eager to work under better conditions in the West. Top skaters follow, complaining that rinks at home, even in this Olympic training camp in the outskirts of Moscow, have bad ice. It's rarely groomed and shared by too many skaters.

The two Olympians training in the Novogorsk rink were there only temporarily: Most of the time, they train in the United States. They were simply home for the holidays.

State interest in the sport also seems to be waning. The Russian Figure Skating Federation says too little attention is paid to the country's current and future skating stars.


OWENS TESTS POSITIVE: Bobsledder Dave Owens was suspended from Olympic competition for two years after testing positive for a banned steroid, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Friday.

Owens, 33, of Tulsa, Okla., tested positive for testosterone in July. He was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy for testicular cancer and had applied for a waiver from the IOC's Medical Commission in April.