Regarding "The cultural vagaries behind ice-judging 'madness' " (Feb. 14): It has been said that the 2002 Olympics will forever have an asterisk due to the bribery scandal which brought the Games to Utah. But the real reason for an eternal black mark - is the winning of the pairs figure skating gold medal by Russian skaters, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, over the Canadian pair, Jamie Salé and David Pelletier.
In what should have been a glorious Olympic moment, the Canadian underdogs skated a flawless performance after the favored Russian pair stumbled in their routine. The Russians are arguably the best figure-skating pair in the world today. But Monday night, the Canadians stepped it up a notch. Or so the watching world and expert commentators thought.
In competition, it doesn't always matter who has the most talent, or skill, or the best track record coming into an event. When you reach the ranks of the world-class athlete, such differences are measured in the smallest of increments. For skating, what matters is what happens on the ice.
But not, apparently, to the Olympic judges - for whom the outcome seems to have been predetermined.
James G. Jordan
Salt Lake City
As a former Utahan I believe, in regard to the bribes which brought the games to Utah, that the people of Utah should actually receive credit for exposing the unethical practices of the Olympic site selection process. No other venue has blown the whistle when confronted with excessive demands for perks from the International Olympic Committee.
For many years, Salt Lake City tried to get the games on the merit of their "greatest snow on earth" and community enthusiasm. When they figured out what it took to land the Olympics they started down a road that ran against the grain of community values. The actions of the local organizing committee are regrettable, but on the whole, the community has a very high sense of what is right and, in the end, couldn't tolerate that bribes came with the territory. Hopefully, from now on, the selection process will rise to a level of fairness comparable to what should be found in judging the athletes.
Melodie Lewis Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Regarding "A hockey team in search of identity" (Feb. 13): Yes, we should let Olympic hockey go back to being played by college and junior players as it once was. What happened to the amateur part of the Olympics? Greed, pure and simple. A group of stuffed shirts, looking at dollar signs, has forgotten what the games are all about.
Denise M. Manahl-Priest Mt. Laurel, N.J.
Regarding "Return of the 'military-industrial complex' " (Feb. 13): When a US president proposes modernization of our defenses, as President Bush has, some use the clichés of throwing money at weaponry and about the military-industrial complex. And they usually cite President Eisenhower's warning in 1961 about any "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought" by that complex.
We tend to forget that in the same speech, Ike warned that "a vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction." The very weapons critics tend to single out have proven crucial in actual combat. It's time to weigh objectively the rationale for weapons procurement and stop quoting statements made by antidefense organizations whose mantra amounts to "armorophobia."
Albert L. Weeks
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