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Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Updated: January 8, 10:09 PM ET
1988 Calgary

By Jeff Merron and Eric Neel
Special to

The Site: Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For the first time, the Winter Olympics were extended to 16 days, including three weekends, largely to benefit advertisers looking for more air time. Jamaica made its Winter Olympic debut with a four-man bobsled team. Soviet athletes, competing under the hammer and sickle for the last time, took home 29 medals.

Front-runner: Italian Alpine skier Alberto Tomba won a pair of gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom events. Between runs, he called his father from a pay phone to remind him that he'd promised to buy Tomba a Ferrari if he won a gold medal.

Talk of the Town: U.S. speed skater Bonnie Blair won gold in the 500-meter event by shaving two one-hundredths of a second off of East German Christa Rothenburger-Luding's world record, which had been set just moments before Blair skated.

Upset: Dutch speed skater Yvonne van Gennip came into the games a long shot to medal, after having surgery on her infected right foot. She arrived in Calgary fit and ready to race, however, and took the gold medal in the 1,500-, 3,000- and 5,000-meter events. After her 1,500-meter victory, she caused a stir when she explained her calm on the ice by saying, "I am not emotional here, but in my bed, I am emotional."

Quotable: "Okay boys, keep calm. And good luck to all" -- Alberto Tomba, just moments before crushing the field in the giant slalom.

Top of the Pops: Power ballads clogged the airwaves: Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," and Cheap Trick's "The Flame" were in the top ten.

Oscar: Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" -- the sort of gorgeous, sweeping epic you had to say you liked, even if you fell asleep while watching it -- won Best Picture.

In the Works: The fall of Communism.

Hot Lit: Two visions of how the world works: Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes" and Donald Trump's "The Art of the Deal."

The Political Scene: "A thousand points of light;" Pan Am Flight 103 bombed over Lockerbie, Scotland; Benazir Bhutto, first Islamic woman prime minister, chosen to lead Pakistan.

Odds and Ends: In the "Battle of the Brians," American Brian Boitano edged Canadian Brian Orser for the gold medal in men's figure skating.

  • On the women's side, defending champ Katerina Witt and challenger Debi Thomas both skated their long programs to Bizet's "Carmen." Thomas faltered and finished third, but her bronze was the first medal ever for a black athlete at the Winter Olympics.

  • Fijian Rusiate Rogoyawa, who learned to ski while studying electrical engineering in Oslo, finished 83rd in the 15-kilometer cross-country event.

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    A note on sources: David Wallechinsky's "The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics", Bud Greenspan's "Frozen in Time", Bernard Grun's "The Timetables of History", The Internet Movie Database ( and were major reference sources for this compilation.