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NOTEBOOK : Norwegians Given 26 Shining Reasons to Be Smiling Hosts

Hundreds of thousands of Norwegians celebrated Sunday as the host nation finished the Games with 26 medals, the most by any country.

Germany, with its first- and third-place finishes in the four-man bobsled, was second in the medal standings, ahead of Russia, with 24. Russia finished with 23 but had the most golds, 11, to 10 for Norway and nine for Germany.

The United States finished tied for fifth with Canada with 13, behind Italy, which had 20. It was the United States’ best performance at a Winter Games.

Six of the U.S. medals were gold, two by speedskater Bonnie Blair, and one each by speedskaters Cathy Turner and Dan Jansen, and Alpine skiers Diann Roffe-Steinrotter and Tommy Moe.

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Paul Kariya, you’ve just won an Olympic silver medal. What are you doing next?

Um, he’s not going to Disney’s Mighty Ducks. Not yet, anyway.

Kariya of the Canadian hockey team says he hasn’t made a final decision yet, though even the Ducks expect him to return to Maine for the rest of this season. He was selected fourth by the Ducks in last year’s NHL draft.

Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira said last week he believes Kariya will return to the University of Maine, where Kariya won the Hobey Baker Award last season as the best player in college hockey, but Kariya offered no hints Sunday.

“I’m going to Boston to see my girlfriend and I’m going to relax,” he said. “I really haven’t made a decision yet. . . . I’m just exhausted. I have no energy left. I have nothing left to give.”

Kariya played double shifts in Canada’s last three games, after wing Todd Warriner suffered a knee injury. He blossomed during the extra playing time--he had about 25 minutes Sunday, including more than 10 in the third period--and got stronger as the tournament progressed. Kariya scored Canada’s first goal Sunday, at 9:08 of the third period, and finished with a team-high seven points, on three goals and four assists.

“One of the biggest things here I’ve learned is I have a long way to go to be the type of player I want to be,” he said. “There are a lot of great players here, and I learned from them.”

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Swedish defenseman Tomas Jonsson joins teammates Hakan Loob and Mats Naslund as the only players to win a Stanley Cup, a world championship and an Olympic gold medal.

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Viktor Tikhonov coached some of the Soviet Union’s greatest hockey teams, but his Olympic finale was less than glorious.

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Tikhonov, who has coached the Soviets, Unified Team and Russians since 1978, apparently coached his last game Saturday in Russia’s 4-0 shutout loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game. It was the first time since the Soviets began playing in the Olympic hockey tournament that a Soviet or Russian team failed to win a medal.

Information on Tikhonov is sketchy, but journalists from Russia say his contract expires March 15 and will not be renewed. They said Boris Mikhailov, a former Soviet player, will coach the Russian team at the World Championships in April, to be held in Italy.

“I don’t know if it’s possible to love him or not, but the history of world hockey is connected with his name,” said Tikhonov’s assistant, Igor Dmitriev.

Tikhonov, 64, had promised to attend Saturday’s postgame news conference, but backed out. Dmitriev gave no explanation for that, but talked at length about his team’s disappointing performance and the depleted state of Russia’s hockey reserves. More than 50 players from the former Soviet Union have left to play in the NHL and European leagues, and the program has been battered by poor economic conditions in Russia and a power struggle in the hockey federation.

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Eight players from the silver-medal Canadian Olympic team will rejoin their NHL clubs after the Games. Returning to the NHL are David Harlock with Toronto, Corey Hirsch and Jean Yves Roy with the New York Rangers, Greg Johnson with Detroit, Dwayne Norris and Todd Warriner with Quebec, Brian Savage with Montreal, Brad Schlegel with Calgary, and Brad Werenka with Edmonton.

Times staff writer Robyn Norwood contributed to this notebook.


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