Mariotti's 2/10/02 article
Steve Rosenbloom's 2/10/02 article
Rick Talendar's 2/13/02 article
BY GREG COUCH STAFF REPORTER
Chicago Sun Times 2/6/02
Chicago has produced a hero for the Olympics (Cammi Granato), a novelty act (Timothy Goebel) and, of course, this city's specialty: the bulk of the U.S. women's curling team.
And don't forget the Greek bobsled team. Yes, both racers on that team are from Chicago.
The Chicago area will be well-represented, if somewhat oddly, at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, which begin Friday. There are at least 19 Olympians with a Chicago connection.
Granato of Downers Grove and goalie Sarah Tueting of Winnetka, U.S. women's hockey players, are the best bets for bringing back gold. Goebel of Rolling Meadows can jump and twist like no men's figure skater ever has. He will land several quadruple jumps and might bring home the bronze.
Cammi Granato, women's hockey, Downers Grove. One of the stars of the 1998 Nagano Games, she was the captain of the team that won the gold medal and was chosen to be the U.S. flag-bearer during the closing ceremony. It was the inaugural event for women's hockey as a medal sport.
''There was emptiness after losing,'' Canadian coach Shannon Miller said. ''But when they showed Cammi Granato's face on the big screen, I had a feeling of joy go through my body because I realized an Olympic gold medal was being hung on a female hockey player.''
The United States and Canada again are far superior to every other team in the field. They have gone on a pre-Games tour, with the U.S. team winning all eight times they played each other.
Granato grew up in Downers Grove in a family of hockey fanatics. They would flood and freeze the backyard so they could play hockey there in the winter. Her brother, Tony, played in the NHL.
February 10, 2002
BY JAY MARIOTTI SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
If you are like most people, when you see Mariotti's name, you want to skip to the next page because you don't need anything else in your life to get you angry. Don't do it this time! Every 4 years he writes a positive, Cammi article. 4 years ago he wrote a nice article about Cammi, but he still managed to tick me off with three bits of bad information. He said that Christiana was Cammi's little sister, that didn't bother me and I'm sure Christina wasn't angry. He said River Falls, Wisconsin native, Karyn Bye, was from Minnesota. That didn't get me , because they probably wouldn't give him the press cheat sheets and he was too cheap to buy a program. The error that got me was when he said that the boys in Downers Grove wouldn't let her play on their teams.
This year he made 3 mistakes again but they won't anger you, so read the article and enjoy. I won't point them out, but I will buy you a beer at Bonos if you can name all 3!
SALT LAKE CITY--Give or take 3 billion witnesses, the scene Friday night was chillingly familiar to Cammi Granato. As kids in Downers Grove, she and her brothers would head down to the basement and re-enact scenes from the ''Miracle on Ice'' movie, squabbling over who would be the good guys and who'd be stuck portraying the evil Soviets. She never left doubt about her preferred role character.
''Mike Eruzione,'' she said Saturday, a smile of disbelief creasing her face. ''I liked pretending I was standing on the podium like he was, waving in my teammates to celebrate the gold.''
What a powerful twist, then, for Granato to jog into the Olympic Stadium, carry the torch with skiier Picabo Street and, in front of the largest audience ever to watch an opening ceremony at a Winter Games, hand it to her guy. From there, Eruzione held the flame for the world to see and, with Granato watching in awe, once again waved in his teammates so they could light the 117-foot-high cauldron.
''I couldn't believe it. It was a complete mirror image of 1980, the same wave and everything,'' Granato said. ''It's so special to be part of something like that to begin with. And then to be able to pass the torch to Mike--wow, it's such a blur. I still can't believe they picked me, but I'm glad they did.''
Life has become a wealth of dreamy experiences for Granato, the world's most accomplished women's hockey player and the sport's reigning ambassador. To be assigned such a major role in an intense and symbolic ceremony, one of the most important in Olympic history, establishes her as more than a rink queen. She now is an American celebrity, the early queen of the Salt Lake Games, a leading pillar and role model in women's sports. How big is Granato these days, as she tries to lead the juggernaut U.S. team to its second consecutive gold medal? She even has her own Olympic bobblehead doll, though she has a small complaint.
''It looks like my brother. I saw it and went, 'That's Tony,''' she said, referring to her suddenly less-famous sibling, now in his 14th NHL season with the San Jose Sharks. ''We can't put our ponytails out of the back of the helmets, so they made me look like a guy. But that's OK. I'm just so happy to be a part of this.''
She's all grown up now, a dignified young lady with long brown hair and diamond earrings who recently turned the Big 3-Oh. The triumph in Nagano, where she slept with the gold medal by her pillow the night after the victory, was supposed to mark the finish of Granato's playing days. She looked toward new career paths and, for a while, appeared to be settling into a niche as a radio color analyst for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings. Around the same time, she went to a doctor and found out she had anemia. ''I didn't think I'd be back,'' she said. ''So much time and energy had gone into Nagano and I thought that was it. Other things were starting to factor in as well. Coming to Salt Lake City wasn't really an option.''
But the defiant itch returned, just as it always did as a kid, even when her mother, Natalie, wanted her to try figure skating and she had to roll up her hair and register as ''Carl Granato'' to play in boys' leagues. If Cammi wasn't going to be denied playing in Bantam hockey, where body checking is part of the deal, then no one was going to take away one last Olympic opportunity. She always has loved the game, from the days the Granato kids played on frozen fields or in their basement, pretending to be their beloved Blackhawks if not the Miracle on Ice team.
Wasn't there more for her to accomplish? Wasn't she leaving too soon?
She couldn't help but notice the rousing success of the U.S. women's soccer team three summers ago, never begrudging Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm and the rest as much as sensing an opportunity to take hockey to a higher plane. ''I don't want to miss this great chance for our sport,'' Granato said. ''I realize how far we've come in the last four years, and I can feel us continuing to grow in leaps and bounds. A lot of people never watched a women's hockey game before Nagano. With these Games in the States, a lot more people are going to watch us. We're getting 10,000 people at some of our games. That's incredible when you consider we used to get only the families of the players.''
By all accounts, Granato continues to play at peak levels, keeping up with younger teammates while learning to control her anemia. She takes jabs from the MTV crowd, including 16-year-old defenseman Lyndsay Wall, who calls her ''Stepmom'' because Wall's real stepmother happens to be Granato's age. But that didn't stop the 5-7, 140-pound forward from leading the team in scoring during a pre-Olympic tour, in which the Americans went 32-0. Eight wins came against archrival Canada. With a power attack, strong defense and a solid goaltending rotation that includes Winnetka native Sarah Tueting, this team is the closest thing the Olympics offer to a lock. ''Anything but the prize,'' Granato said, ''would be a big disappointment.''
That makes the Americans, in the ultimate irony, much like the Soviet Red Army team of 1980. Will the captain have to guard her mates from complacency? ''We don't have to worry about it. That isn't how this team is made up inside,'' Granato said. ''I know we're not comparing ourselves to the Soviet Red Army team. They were legendary and we're still proving ourselves. No one hands you anything at the Olympics. We're only thinking about what we have to do in our first game.''
Just to be safe, she solicited the advice of Eruzione as they sat Friday night in the green room, awaiting their exchange in history. Her role is the polar opposite of his 22 years ago, yet his wisdom was accepted with wide eyes and open ears. ''He told me about how to handle expectations,'' said Granato, whose team opens play Tuesday against Germany. ''Anything Mike says, I listen.''
She found out about her torch-bearer assignment Thursday night. They wouldn't say who would receive it from her, but Granato accidently saw the Team USA hockey jerseys in the stadium. Before the ceremony, she joined Street in practicing the maneuver with water bottles.
''I just prayed I wouldn't drop it,'' she said.
Her pass, as usual, was perfect.
Sunday, February 10, 2002
Granato's work a success
After carrying the Olympic flame up the steps of the stadium — one of the most honored legs of the torch relay — Cammi Granato realized that women's hockey has arrived.
"It's hard to believe, it really is," she said, a day after she and skier Picabo Street handed the torch off to Mike Eruzione so he and the 1980 men's hockey team could light the cauldron.
"There was so much fight for us to prove ourselves as athletes for so long, and now it's a complete 180," Granato said. "To be honored like that ... it's insane. It's unreal."
Granato was the captain of the American team that won the gold medal at Nagano in the first Olympic women's hockey tournament. Their victory was one of the American highlights of the 1998 Nagano Games, and it provided a boost for women's hockey back home.
By Steve Rosenbloom
Tribune Olympic Bureau
Published February 10, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY --
One day Cammi Granato is down in her family's basement in Downers Grove,
fighting with her brothers to play the role of Mike Eruzione.
The next day she is racing up the stairs of Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium and, along with skier Picabo Street, handing the Olympic torch to Eruzione himself.
Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
February 13, 2002
BY RICK TELANDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
SALT LAKE CITY--You can't be a dragonslayer without a dragon to slay.
You can't be a hero if there isn't a villain. And so the U.S. women's hockey team finds itself in the position of being the reluctant bad guy in this second Winter Olympics to feature padded, stick-wielding women on ice. The United States won the first Olympic gold in women's hockey in Nagano in 1998, and right now the team looks like the old Green Bay Packers ready to take on a bunch of 1960s-era college football teams.
Germany won the opening face off against the U.S. women in the first game of the tournament Tuesday, and after that the Deutschlanders looked like clay pigeons at a Utah trap shoot. Former University of New Hampshire forward Karyn Bye, 30, knocked in the first American goal with 6:16 gone in the first period, and you could say it was bye-bye from there on in. Actually, it was Bye-Bye, because the 5-8, 165-pounder scored another goal in the second period. Teammate Natalie Darwitz, the teensy (5-2, 128 pounds) high school senior from Minnesota, also scored two goals, and when the ice chips settled, the Americans had chilled the feckless frauleins 10-0.
But it wasn't so much that the U.S. team won. It was the way it won. Like a fire over sawdust. Like a Hoover over crumbs. The U.S. team had 57 shots on goal. The Germans had just six until the final minute and finished with eight. And those weren't really shots. They were more like handoffs. Or shuffleboard lobs. Or terrified hidey-hos from the other end of the rink. The most bored human in the loud, flag-waving arena was U.S. goalie Sarah DeCosta. Her parents were in the building somewhere, but she battled the temptation to find them and start waving or talking.
''The other team could dump it in from the other end, and if I'm looking around, saying, 'Oh, there are my parents,' the puck could go in the net,'' said DeCosta, 24. No doubt about it. Or else there could be more games like the final one of the team's four-game sweep of Sweden in December. That was a 12-1 U.S. massacre, with the Americans launching 80 shots on goal to the Swedes' three. How one of those Swedish biscuits went in the basket, we'll never know. But yawning could have been a factor. The U.S. team went 32-0 in its pre-Olympic exhibition season, squashing foes the way an elephant squashes bugs. In December, for instance, the Americans went 9-0 against teams such as Sweden, Russia, Germany and the University of Minnesota, outscoring their opponents 87-5.
''The score was a little bit one-sided,'' U.S. coach Ben Smith admitted with somber understatement after the German thrashing. But he insisted that the United States takes everybody seriously and that anything could happen to his women at any time. ''That stuff about being favorites comes from your side,'' he huffed at journalists. Yes, and from all other people with eyes, we wanted to reply. With so much made at these Olympics of the dramatic ''Miracle on Ice'' U.S. men's hockey team that upset the mighty Soviet Union team at the Lake Placid Games in 1980, it is ironic that the American women's team cannot possibly play that beloved and gilded underdog role. Indeed, the U.S. women are the Evil Empire, the bullies on the block with all the resources, numbers and tradition. There is no more Eastern Bloc. And Free World jocks such as Cammi Granato and the 5-4, 145- pound Jenny Potter, a forward from the University of Minnesota-Duluth who led the nation in scoring two years ago, are the new targets. ''If you take out the USA and Canada,'' German coach Ranier Nittel said, ''it would be a good tournament.'' But even Canada is suspect. Though the Canadians beat the U.S. team 3-1 to win last year's World Cup, the Americans have smoked the Canadians eight wins to none in their games this season. ''I guess there are choices people make,'' said Smith, defending his club's power. ''We have an advantage in our sports culture because of Title IX. But usually when people are successful, others try and match that success.''
In other words, Come on, world . ''The little difference between us and the Americans is they have another 45,000 players we don't have,'' Nittel said somewhat ruefully. Germany has 2,500 female players. And in fairness, the United States has only about 40,000. But that's like a million. Our programs are light years ahead of, say, Argentina's. Why, according to USA Hockey, the sport's governing body in this country, there are even 14 female hockey players in Hawaii. Poor German goalie Esther Thyssen, who came in after her team was down 6-0, looked deflated when the final horn sounded. ''To beat the United States, a team would have to have the same training,'' she said. ''Me, I work.''
While the U.S. team is together for nearly the entire year, other women's teams play when they can. ''We practiced for two weeks in January, one week in December and one week in November,'' German forward Michaela Lanzl said. ''I think that's it.'' Meanwhile, DeCosta splits time with the other American goalie, Sara Tueting, the Winnetka native and former cellist in the Dartmouth symphony orchestra. They fight boredom all the time. ''I wish I was her,'' DeCosta said longingly of Thyssen. ''It's fun to play in a game against 50 shots. That's what we're supposed to do.'' She sighed. There was a stretch in the second period when DeCosta didn't move, didn't flex, didn't do anything for nearly a minute. ''With this team, I have games like this all the time,'' she said. If there's a Miracle on Ice this Olympics, it will have to be with the American gals playing the old Soviet role. ''That's the way it is,'' DeCosta said. ''That's the hand we've been dealt.'' or now, it's a winner.
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