-- A good-luck visit by Vice President Dan Quayle to the Olympic athletes' village turned into a mob scene that shut out the local mayor and left some members of Quayle's entourage, including the U.S. ambassador, out in the cold.
Quayle was swarmed by American and other athletes, and more reporters and security people than the French had counted on in the Olympic village cafeteria where he had lunch with U.S. Olympians.
"The Americans abused their rights," an angry Mayor Jean-Francois Chedal-Bornu said. "There were just too many people in the restaurant. It was unbelievable."
Chedal-Bornu himself was ejected from the scene as he was trying to get Quayle to sign a guest register.
"Get him the hell out of here," U.S. Olympic Committee member Steve Bull was overheard saying.
U.S. Ambassador to France Walter Curley was also initially denied access to the village by the French and had to be escorted inside.
Henceforth, the angry mayor said, journalists will not be allowed in the residential part of the largest Olympic village and will be restricted to the "International Zone" adjacent to the residential area.
Quayle's car loses brakes
The day did not start out well for Quayle and his wife, Marilyn.
According to broadcast reports out of New York, the armored car carrying the vice president's party lost its brakes on the Alpine roads en route to the opening ceremonies in Albertville.
The car started down a steep road before the driver was able to bring it to a stop, ABC, CBS and CNN reported. The Quayles and their guests switched to another car and completed their trip without incident.
LeBlanc named U.S. goalie
U.S. hockey coach Dave Peterson has settled on Ray LeBlanc as his goaltender for today's opening game.
LeBlanc's goals-against average throughout the exhibition swing was an unimpressive 3.63, but that is almost a full goal better than his prime competition, Scott Gordon, a former Baltimore Skipjack.
"Scott Gordon is our most experienced goaltender," Peterson said. "He has the most wins. Ray LeBlanc is close in terms of experience, and his stats are the best of the three [along with Mike Dunham]. They are pretty even. No one's head is above the other."
The Americans are riding a four-game winning streak coming into the opener, having won a string of exhibitions in Europe. Their most recent outing was a 3-2 win over a Swedish team most observers say is the strongest team at these Games. LeBlanc was in goal the first half that game and shut out the Swedes during his tenure.
Opposing the Americans is an Italian team that does not appear a preliminary medal favorite. Making matters worse is an injury to Italy's top player, Gates Orlando, who suffered a concussion last week playing against the Commonwealth of Independent States and is out for the duration of the Olympics.
Unified hockey team wins
The "CCCP" was missing from their red-and-white jerseys, and the team's name in the program was decidedly French: l'Equipe Unifiee.
But make no mistake, the Unified Team is just another name for the same guys who have won seven of the nine Olympic hockey gold medals they've played for since 1956. The heirs to the Soviets' Olympic hockey dynasty did their forbearers proud, displaying the same superb passing and strength of purpose an 8-1 whipping of Switzerland.
That tied the Unified Team with yesterday's other winners, Canada and Czechoslovakia, for the lead in Group B of the Olympic hockey tournament with 1-0 records.
"As you can see, judging from the results of this game, the political changes in our country right now haven't affected the performance of our players," said Jurzinov Dmitriev, the assistant coach.
Favored Canada struggles
Canada, a pre-Olympic medal favorite, had an unexpected struggle on its hands in its hockey opener against a French team that no one figured to be in the same class.
The Canadians barely came away with a 3-2 victory, and it brought back memories of Calgary in 1988, when the host team had a difficult opening-round game before winning, 1-0, against Norway, supposedly a much inferior team. Canada's goaltender, Sean Burke, was also the goalie for that match in '88, and he said he was mentally ready for a low-scoring opener this time around.
Burke said it was just a momentary scare. "Canada is a pretty mature team," he said. "We'll play our way out of it."
But by the middle of the first period, it was evident the hosFrench team had made believers out of the 7,000 spectators who expected the hometown squad to absorb a drubbing. So they cheered and sang and stomped their feet.
"It felt great," said Phillippe Bozon, France's best player. "There were so many children here. The people were so loud. It was fun."
The French team pressed Canada to the final moments before the Canadians survived the suspenseful decision. And when it was over, the fans sang once more.
"We knew France didn't have a chance," said Isabella Janex, 14 of nearby Bourgeneil. "If they had won, we would have broken down the place."
Speed skating track cracks
The first sporting controversy popped up with criticism of the speed skating track, which is marbled with cracks. Until about 4 p.m., the sun shines on one side of the oval, making it slushier and slower than the other side.
The cracks could be dangerous and slow times in the shorter races, while the slower sunny side of the track will hurt times in early afternoon races.
The International Skating Union rejected a plea by several nations to move all speed skating races into the evening.