For Olympian Warner, sky proves to be no limit

Luger-turned-bobsledder amends her flight plan with return to cockpit

Sports Plus

September 23, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

The terrorist hijackings Sept. 11 that have grounded many fearful Americans have had the opposite effect on three-time Olympian Bonny Warner.

Warner wanted to get back flying as soon as possible, so she requested and received her old job back as a United Airlines pilot.

Warner, 39, a five-time U.S. champion in luge, is a captain who flies 737s for United. She was on a leave of absence since July to train full time for a berth as a bobsled driver in the 2002 Winter Olympics, but when terrorists hijacked four planes, including two United flights, Warner could think of nothing else but to get back into the air.

"I came back to make a statement," she told The Gazette of Colorado Springs. "Some people gave blood. Some gave money. I fly."

For Warner, who intends to go back on leave Oct. 1, the attacks have "an extreme resonance."

Her husband, Tony Simi, is a firefighter and paramedic. And she knew Jason Dahl, the pilot on United Flight 93 who died along with 43 others in the Pennsylvania crash; better than most people, she can imagine what it was like in the cockpit when hijackers overtook his plane.

Still, Warner, mother of a 3-year-old daughter, Katy, went back to the controls to help America reclaim the skies.

"Being a mother is the most important thing for me," she said. "I am not going to put that at risk. ... I'm flying today. That should give you an indication of how safe I feel. I'm safe to fly."

Time for Plan B

Organizers of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are scrambling to redesign the logo for the Oct. 27 event at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., because the original version depicted a Manhattan skyline that included the World Trade Center's twin towers.

Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said some New Yorkers complained that continuing to use the logo would be inappropriate. Van Clief said other New Yorkers said: "Please do not change it. We'll be offended if you did."

The latter group will be relieved to know the logo already is emblazoned on Breeders' Cup hats and shirts and there's no plan to recall the merchandise.

Nothing to make sport of

Bernie Lincicome of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver says he expects this month's tragic events to result in fewer hyperbolic analogies of sports to warfare -- perhaps fewer uses of phrases such as "crash and burn," and "search and destroy."

"I think one of the most overwrought leads ever written on a sports story," Lincicome wrote, "came from an English sportswriter covering another World Cup defeat of the national soccer team by Germany."

Here's how it went: "Let us never forget that while the Germans have beaten us at our national game, we have twice beaten them at theirs."

Thumbs down

Last weekend's sports cancellations left some hard-core fans without anything to do.

"It got so bad for some sports junkies [last] weekend," comedian Alex Kaseberg said, "that some of them were reduced to renting the movie Love Story just for the hockey scenes."

Voices up

When baseball returned to Philadelphia on Monday night, fans at Veterans Stadium needed only three batters to get back into form.

It was the moment an Atlanta Braves home run was hit.

Said Phillies manager Larry Bowa: "You realized the healing had started when they booed Chipper [Jones]."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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