Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Postcard from Salt Lake City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Postcard from Salt Lake City

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

In one week I've gone from Bourbon Street to Temple Square. From jazz to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. From a city where guzzling enormous drinks is encouraged to one where ordering two beers at once is illegal. From New Orleans to Salt Lake City. It's hard to imagine two more different cities. And here's the thing: I like them both. But forced to make a choice ... I'd take Salt Lake City. I know, I know. Sportswriters are supposed to make fun of Salt Lake City. And I probably will have trouble going 17 days without a polygamy joke or two. (Rodney Dangerfield in Utah: "Take three of my wives, please.") But I have always loved visiting here. You get off the plane and feel like you've stepped into an REI catalog, a land of fleece and Gore-Tex. The mountains are spectacular. Besides, its easy to find a microbrew. Just don't order two at once.

WHO'S HOT

Who: Derek Parra

American Derek Parra set the first speedskating world record of the Salt Lake City Olympics yesterday, racing the 5,000 meters in 6 minutes, 17.98 seconds. But he then then stood helplessly as the Netherlands' Jochem Uytdehaage smashed his mark by about 3 1/2 seconds to take the gold medal and leave the American with a silver on Day 1 of Olympic competition. Parra, a former inline champion from San Bernardino, Calif., broke defending Olympic champion Gianni Romme's mark of 6:18.72, set at Calgary, Canada, on Jan. 30, 2000. Parra's performance was totally unexpected, even on the fast ice of the Utah Olympic Oval. He shattered his previous personal best by more than 15 seconds. The surprising medal bodes well for the diminutive Parra -- he stands just 5-foot-4 -- since his best event lies ahead in the 1,500.

WHAT'S NOT

What: Union Pacific Railroad

Olympic safety commanders have asked Union Pacific to stop running trains loaded with hazardous materials through Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics. The railroad said no. Olympic safety commanders wanted to stop the shipments as a precaution against terrorism or accidental spills. Freight trains run frequently through the heart of Salt Lake City. …

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