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Sports 101

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What's ahead: The 18th Winter Olympics, Feb. 7-22, in Nagano, Japan. Opening ceremonies begin tonight at 8 on CBS.

What is the Olympic symbol and what does it mean?

The Olympic symbol consists of five interlocking rings. The colors of the rings are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The Olympic symbol represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

How is a host city chosen for the Olympics?

According to Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, a city wanting to host the Olympic Games must first convince the IOC that the Games will be welcome in their community, that they can be organized efficiently, that they will respect the environment, and that they will leave a positive legacy. A host city is chosen seven years ahead. Sydney will host the summer Olympics in 2000 and Salt Lake City will host the winter Olympics in 2002.

What is the clap skate and why is it so controversial?

Introduced by the Dutch, the clap skate is a noisy hinged skate that allows the heel of the boot to lift off the blade, which increases the power of the skater's stroke. When the heel snaps back into place, it makes a clapping sound.

There is debate surrounding the skate because Americans have had difficulty acquiring them (they haven't been generally available). Some are concerned that those using them may have an unfair advantage.

In figure skating, what is the difference between a salchow and a lutz jump?

With a salchow, the skater makes one, two, or three revolutions and lands backward on the outside edge of his right foot, the opposite foot from which he took off.

In a lutz, the skater enters the jump skating in one direction and concludes the jump skating in the opposite direction. If a skater performs a jump in one of the rink's corners, the jump is likely to be a lutz. (This is the jump that caused Midori Ito to jump out of the rink in Munich at the 1991 World Championships.)

Curling will make its Olympic debut. What does this event entail?

Curling is contested by two teams of four players each. The object is to push a 20-kilogram (about 44-pound) stone down a sheet of ice, measuring 15 feet 7-1/2 inches wide and 146 feet long, toward a ring of concentric circles. A team scores a point for each stone that is closer to the center of the rings than the nearest opponent's stone.

The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Each game consists of 10 ends or innings and lasts 2-1/2 hours.

* Please send your comments and questions to parneyl@csps.com

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