Torch approaches Salt Lake City
Capping a 13,500-mile journey, the Olympic torch finally arrives
at its destination Thursday, where it will make several stops
in Salt Lake City, host of the Winter Games. The torch left
the northern Utah city of Ogden at dawn Thursday, on its way
to the mountains and Park City area, home of a handful of Olympic
events. Friday night, the flame will be carried into Rice-Eccles
Stadium during the opening ceremony, where it will be used to
light the Olympic cauldron, signifying the start of the games.
The final torchbearer remains a secret.
Skeleton is back! A Little History...
Olympic skeleton, that addictively exciting alpine sport with the macabre name, has yet to be staged outside St Moritz's
Cresta Run. The predecessor of luge -- with contestants hurtling down the track face first on a small sled instead of feet first -- skeleton featured at the Winter Olympics of 1928 and 1948, which were both held in the Swiss resort. Subsequently it has languished in the Olympic wilderness until the Salt Lake City Games, which open this Friday. In an acknowledgment that the craving for extreme sports featuring lashings of speed and danger is now part
of the mainstream, men's skeleton returns to the Games and women's makes its debut in 16 days time.
Addition of men's and women's events. Skeleton has been an Olympic event in 1928 and 1948.
Skeleton is essentially the same as luge with the difference being the slider is face down on the sled
and travels down the course head first
(In luge, the
slider is on his/her back and travels down the course feet first).
Skeleton competitors know their sport is dangerous and that's one of the main reasons why they love it so much.
On Feb. 20, racers
will fly down the bobsled run headfirst at 80 mph.
After 54 years, skeleton has been unearthed for another scary Olympic run.
One of the Winter Games' most dangerous and exciting events is coming back in Salt Lake City.
Not up to speed on skeleton, are you?
Lincoln DeWitt was last season's World Cup points leader.(Allsport) Well, just imagine grabbing that sled on the wall of your garage, jumping on it headfirst and flying down a world-class bobsled run at 80 mph with no brakes?
Oh, and steering with your feet. No wonder it's called skeleton. One small mistake can leave a rider fractured from head to toe. "It's the champagne of thrills," said U.S. team member Jim Shea Jr., a former world champion and medal favorite. "It's so exciting and so much fun, the first thing you want to do when you're done sliding is to get back up there and get that rush again." Sure, as long as you don't have anything broken. Skeleton dates back to the 1880s, and the sport is said to have gotten its name because some of the first sleds that were used resembled skeletons. Others say it's got more to do with it being a bone-rattling thrill ride. Started in Switzerland, skeleton made its Olympic debut in 1924, took
20 years off, and last appeared in the 1948 Winter Games on St. Moritz's famed Cresta Run.
Back again, it's sure to be a big hit with adrenaline junkies, extreme sports enthusiasts and the Mountain Dew crowd around Salt Lake City. Just think of it as a crossover sport from the X-Games, with the possibility of needing X-rays, too. Face down, with their chins just two inches above the ice, riders will battle strong G-forces while making their way down the 15-curve hill at Utah's Olympic Park. They'll shift their bodies on the fiberglass sleds -- men's can weigh
no more than 94.6 pounds, women's 77 -- and dig in spiked shoes to negotiate the turns. But it's their memory of what's up ahead that will get them to the bottom safely. To Shea and other skeleton riders, there is no better rush.
"Luge and bobsled are wonderful sports. But for me, it's much more exciting to skeleton," said Shea, who finished third on the World Cup circuit this season. "You don't have all the protection. The bobsled is like driving a bus 100 miles an hour through traffic, and driving a skeleton is like driving a motorcycle 100 mph through traffic. "When you mess up and hit the wall, it's nothing but you. You hit a wall on a bobsled, and it's nothing but fiberglass. Big deal. You're sitting down. It's OK." Skeleton riders were reminded of the sport's dangers in October when Latvia's Girt Ostenieks was killed during practice when he plowed into an empty bobsled that had drifted into his path. Shea and American teammates, Chris Soule and Lincoln DeWitt, last season's World Cup points winner, are among the men's medal favorites
along with Gregor Stahli of Switzerland. A two-time world champion, Stahli had retired for five years but
decided to make a comeback after learning that skeleton would be back in the Olympics. The buzz never goes away, Soule said. "Every kid loves to go down the hill headfirst when they build tracks in their backyards," he said. "Everyone kind of has a connection with the sport. A lot of times I feel like a kid going down the hill.
The speed's right there in your face."
Located in southern Europe, Greece forms an irregular-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean with two additional large peninsulas projecting from it: the Chalcidice and the Peloponnese...The Greek Islands are generally subdivided into two groups, according to location: the Ionian Islands (including Corfu, Cephalonia, and Leucas) west of the mainland and the Aegean Islands (including Euboea, Samos, Chios, Lesbos, and Crete) to the east and south.
North-central Greece, Epirus, and western Macedonia all are mountainous...The main chain of the Pindus Mountains extends from northwestern Greece to the Peloponnese...Mount Olympus, rising to 2,909 meters (9,570 feet), is the highest point in the country (The Learning Network Inc., 2001).
Distance from Athens to Salt Lake City: 10,186 kilometers (6,330 miles)
Official Name: Hellenic Republic
Area: 131,957 sq. km
Capital (population): Athens (3,000,000)
Major Cities: Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patras
Monetary Unit: Euro
TITLE Hymnos Pro Tin Elphtherian (Hymn to Freedom)
COMPOSER Words by Dionysios SOLOMOS, music by Nikolaos MANTZAROS
OFFICIAL NAME Comite Olympique Hellenique
COUNTRIES INCLUDED Greece
FOUNDING DATE 1894
DATE OF IOC RECOGNITION 1895
NOC PRESIDENT Lambis W. NIKOLAOU
NOC GENERAL SECRETARY Dmitris DIATHESSOPOULOS
IOC MEMBERS Nikos FILARETOS since 1981; Lambis W. NIKOLAOU since 1986
FIRST OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
NUMBER OF OLYMPIC WINTER
GAME APPEARANCES 15
My Godmother's Son (My Cousin Panos)
Skeleton: VOUDOURIS, Michael Panagiotis
Results in Last Olympic Cycle
2001: Calgary, Canada, DNQ - 3:04.42
2000: Igls, Austria, DNQ - 2:54.91
World Cup Standings
Works as an emergency medical services technician in New York City, having earned both national and state licenses...
Worked in rescue recovery efforts at "Ground Zero" in New York City following 11 September (2001) tragedies, and is using his sled to memorialize the medical personnel who lost their lives there while performing recovery duties...
Is leading an effort to commemorate those personnel who he says deserves much recognition and honor for their sacrifices...
His sled has graphics with slightly cubic design of the now-collapsed World Trade towers, and the number 30 -- to
represent the number of his colleagues who lost their lives in recovery efforts...
Sled also has the name of his New York City high school and the number of people the high school lost in September.
Mother: Rita Voudouris (My Aunt & Godmother)
Father: Michael Voudouris (My Uncle)
Sisters: Andreana & Katarina (My Cousins)
*** New Photo of Panos on his Sled! ***
Photo by: Amendola, AP
Panos at work!
Representing Greece, remembering NYC
Voudouris' sled honors fallen trade center, EMT victims
February 8, 2002
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
SALT LAKE CITY -- The birthplace of the Olympics, Greece has the honor of leading the parade of nations at the Opening Ceremonies. So tonight, as the Salt Lake Games begin, Michael Voudouris will be one of the first athletes to march into Rice-Eccles Stadium, to hear the roar.
"It's going to floor me," Voudouris said Thursday. "It's going to be a powerful, emotional moment. I'll probably cry."
Voudouris competes in skeleton, in essence head-first luge, an Olympic sport for the first time since 1948. He will turn 42 next month. He was the last man to qualify for the Games in his event -- and he did so by one one-hundredth of a second. Those are enough reasons for him to tear up. But there are more. Voudouris represents Greece; he holds a Greek passport because his father was born there. But he is an American. A native New Yorker. And an emergency medical technician. He was on the scene Sept. 11, after terrorists toppled the World Trade Center
towers. He stayed for days. During tonight's ceremonies, eight U.S. athletes will carry a tattered American flag found in the rubble. Voudouris said he was "a little concerned about that." He said that flag was "sacred." Shouldn't an honor guard carry it? What if the wind whips and rips it? What if someone trips and tears it? It just means so much to him,
that flag, Sept. 11, this event. Although he said "it's touchy," although he said he didn't know how Greek Olympic officials would feel about such a display, Voudouris has made his racing sled a memorial. Among other things, it has a graphic of the towers and the names of nine EMTs who were killed. "You only hear about the firefighters and police officers, but others who were working that day lost their lives, too," Voudouris said. "This is just to memorialize them. It's a small thing. If the families and friends see it, and if it gives them some comfort, then that's great."
An EMT's job is to give comfort, and that's what Voudouris tried to do Sept. 11. Having worked through the previous night until 6 a.m., he was asleep at home in Queens when the hijacked planes hit the towers. He woke up to a ringing phone. After the first tower collapsed, he was on his way to the scene with a nurse he knew. When they neared what would become known as Ground Zero, they had to step over body parts. "It wasn't pretty," he said, "but that's what we had to do." They set up a treatment center in a firehouse. "Besides the smell of death," he said, there was dust. Everywhere. He and the nurse used drops to clear it out of firefighters' eyes -- until they were evacuated because the building was unstable. They set up another center in a restaurant nearby. After a while, that center served as a makeshift emergency room, with physicians and nurses. For five days, Voudouris worked near Ground Zero. Twice,
he worked 40-hour shifts without sleeping. "I was just doing my job," he said. "I'm a New Yorker. You help your
neighbor. There was plenty to be done." The tragedy took its toll. Voudouris suffered a scratched cornea
from the dust. He suffered a swollen throat, because he kept removing his mask to scream instructions and inhaled a lot of chemicals. He had trouble breathing. And he had to go to funerals, memorial services.
For two months, while his competition was training, he was not. "Well," he said to himself, "that's it for the Olympics."
But that wasn't it. Voudouris got into skeleton in a roundabout way. He's also a self-taught sports photographer. He covered the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and '96 Atlanta Games. One day a few years ago, he was covering the women's bobsled national championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., when a skeleton streaked past him. He had to find out more.
The rider was Juleigh Walker, a 10-time national champion. She told Voudouris she wouldn't give him anything he wanted unless he went down himself. Well, fine. He went down himself. And again. And again.
Despite some mishaps, including some broken ribs, he made six-hour trips to Lake Placid on the weekends for fun.
Eventually, but before skeleton was added to the Salt Lake program, Voudouris started to take the sport seriously. He petitioned Greece, which never has won a Winter Olympic medal, and the Greeks allowed him to be their sole representative in the sport's World Cup tour. He traveled the globe on his own dime, eating cheaply,
staying in youth hostels. In 1999-2000, he ranked 42nd. In 2000-01, he ranked 41st. He didn't qualify for the final runs at the world championships either season. Despite that, and despite the effects of Sept. 11, Voudouris went
back out this season. He tried. And at an event last month in Germany, his time of 2:12.96 edged the 2:12.97 of Ricky McIntosh, a member of the celebrated Jamaican bobsled team from the 1992 Albertville Games.
He qualified. He was the eighth of the last eight men to qualify. But he qualified.
Greece accepted Voudouris' results and entered him in the Salt Lake Games. He said his inclusion might be a "sore point" to some people, people who think he doesn't really belong, isn't really good enough. Hey, he might finish last. He said "it would have been nice" to be good enough to represent the United States, especially tonight.
But, he added, "It doesn't matter what country you represent. It's being here and competing that matters. Being here is wonderful on its own. I'm proud to represent Greece. It is the birthplace of the Olympics and their ideals." And aren't those ideals, in the modern romantic vision, that of the doing-it-for-the-love-of-it, unfunded amateur?
Voudouris said when he competes Feb. 20 he probably would feel like he had at other times this winter. He will inhale the crisp, clean, cold mountain air. He will look at the scenery, beautiful. And then he will look down at the design on his sled, remember that day he couldn't breathe, remember that scene. And he will think, "What a contrast."
Equestrian photographer Michael Voudouris is competing on the Greek skeleton team in the Winter Olympics next week.
An EMT who was on the scene Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center, he has the names of fellow EMTs who died on the bottom of his sled.
Go, Michael! Now on to someone else who's had a breakthrough. Michael Voudouris,
who you've seen taking photos at the horse shows for years, made the Greek Olympic team for the Winter Games that begin this week.
His sport is skeleton, and the simple explanation is: it's sledding, but at high speeds, and incredibly dangerous.
Michael, who holds dual Greek and American citizenship, trained hard to make the Games--and he did it by just 1/100th of a second. He got involved with skeleton when he took photos of U.S. skeleton athletes a few years back, and one of them insisted he try the sport before he talked to them. He was hooked. Michael, who works as an emergency medical technician, was involved in work at the World Trade Center after Sept. 11. He lost training time and got sick from the fumes and dust, but he knows others fared far worse at that location. The new Olympian will memorialize the
medical services workers who died in the tragedy by putting their names on his sled. It will also bear an image of the twin towers, and the star of life. He's more interested in that message than a medal.
Michael Voudouris, Queens NY (Skeleton)
Voudouris, 41, will be competing for Greece, the birthplace of his father. The Glendale resident is an emergency medicial technician and is dedicating his Olympic experience to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
An EMT's Golden Chance
Voudouris goes from Ground Zero to Olympics
By Michael Dobie
January 29, 2002
The odds were long, the obstacles considerable. But Queens native Michael Voudouris is going to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City . . . by the margin of one one-hundredth of a second. Voudouris, an emergency medical technician and lifelong resident of Glendale, qualified to compete in the skeleton in a race-off held last weekend in Altenberg, Germany. Voudouris will represent Greece; his father was born in the country and Voudouris holds a Greek passport.
The skeleton, which returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1948, is similar to luge. With the skeleton, however, the riders lie face down with their chins just two inches above the ice. At Utah's Olympic Park, they will make their way down a 15-curve hill. Voudouris, 41, was the eighth of eight skeleton riders who qualified to compete in the Olympics at the FIBT Skeleton Challenge Cup. His time of 2:12.96 for two runs barely nosed out the 2:12.97 recorded
by Ricky McIntosh who was a member of the Jamaican two and four-man bobsleigh teams that took part in the 1992 Albertville Olympics. Voudouris said in an e-mail from Europe that the Greek federation accepted his results and forwarded his nomination to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. After returning to New York later this week,
Voudouris will fly to Greece next week. Voudouris, who worked as an EMT near Ground Zero for two straight
days in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, has dedicated his Olympic journey to the victims of the tragedy. He has painted a graphic of the Twin Towers on the underside of his sled, attached a decal of the star of life with the staff and the snake curling around it, and inscribed the names of the nine EMTs and paramedics who died at the World Trade Center. "This gives me an opportunity to explain it's not just the policemen and firemen who were there, there were others who were there working who lost their lives," Voudouris said last month.
A Wild Ride
Glendale EMT, photographer follows a quirky path to make bid for
Olympic berth as skeleton sledder for Greece
By Michael Dobie
December 23, 2001
There is something of a Saul Bellow image about the modern Winter Olympics: Tilt the sports world on its ear and the loose ends roll into winter. There are Gen Xers on snowboards and freestyle skiers with leopard-dot
hair and a football player turned mogul skier. There are loners seeking the solitude of a ski jump and speed addicts who switch from one sport on runners to the next in their endless quest for maximum G's.
And there is Michael Voudouris.
Of all the loose ends trying to find their way to Salt Lake City in February, Voudouris is perhaps the most endearingly unconventional of all. He's the kind of guy who starts college life as an engineer and finishes in psychology, who tries to bicycle across the country and never gets past California, becomes a sports photographer despite having no formal training, and earns a license as an emergency medical technician to honor one who took care of him when he was sick.
He's the kind of guy who rushes to lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, sets up a triage center one block from Ground Zero and stays in the area for five days working 40-plus hours at a time, no second thoughts, even though the physical and psychological toll cost him two months of training. He's the kind of guy who is born and raised in Queens, learns by
chance to ride a skeleton sled in Lake Placid, and decides to try for the Olympics at age 41 for the team from ... Greece.
In a time when even snowboarders are professionals, Voudouris is a refreshing throwback to the antiquated ideals of amateurism: He has no coach, no funding, no support system, no cutting-edge equipment.And no chance, as he admits, should he earn the opportunity to go for the gold. Not that it matters. He has passion, for his sport and for his cause.
Win or lose on an icy track, Voudouris already is ahead. It's the journey that counts.
"If Greece allows me to represent them, then there is a strong possibility I will come in last," Voudouris said. "I'm not embarrassed about it, I understand it."Why do it? I can't answer that because I really don't know. But I know it's the right thing." Part of the reason can be found on the underside of his skeleton sled, the side that faces out when the 4-foot sled is stood on end for inspectors checking runners and for crowds at the bottom of the hill. The underside is where Voudouris has painted a graphic of the Twin Towers, attached a decal of the star of life with the staff and
the snake curling around it, and inscribed the names of nine EMTs and paramedics who died at the World Trade Center. It's a matter of honor."The EMS has always been the third uniformed service," Voudouris said. "You only hear about the firemen and the police officers as heroes, heroes meaning people who assumed the risk when they put on the badge
and ended up losing their lives ... This gives me an opportunity to explain it's not just the policemen and firemen who were there, there were others who were there working who lost their lives." Finishing last in Salt Lake, he said, would not be a fitting tribute: "So instead of dedicating my experience, I'm going to memorialize it."
Voudouris, a Glendale resident, has been around the skeleton scene since the mid-1990s, when his other profession as a sports photographer brought him to Lake Placid to shoot various winter sports. He got into the business when an old friend from Archbishop Molloy High School needed a photo assistant and called Voudouris, who was home resting a cracked arch suffered while running a marathon. Voudouris learned on the job, a pattern repeated throughout
his life, and ended up working the Summer Olympics in Barcelona and Atlanta.
In Lake Placid, though, he began to cross over. Shooting the women's bobsled national championships, he saw a skeleton sled slide by at breakneck speed. Intrigued, he approached 10-time national women's champ Juleigh Walker for information."I'm not going to let you do an interview or take any pictures until you go down yourself," Walker said.
Deal, Voudouris replied. He wore a motorcycle helmet and a bright orange suit from a construction job that he taped down tightly around his neck and wrists to prevent air from getting inside as he sped down the slope the first time. It didn't work. "I blew up like a parachute," he said. "It was a god-awful thing," Walker said, laughing. "He was a big
orange blob." But he made it to the bottom. And returned another day. And broke his ribs. And returned. And drove six hours each way on weekends for four one-minute runs."He just kept coming back," Walker said. Eventually, Voudouris decided he wanted to be something more than a weekend warrior. He wanted to compete. He obtained his international license but needed to represent a country to get on the World Cup circuit. He called Greece. Since his father was born there, Voudouris already had a Greek passport and dual citizenship. Voudouris convinced Greek officials to let him represent them and arrived in Calgary for his first World Cup competition in 1999 as the lone skeleton rider from Greece, a nation that never has won a medal in the Winter Olympics. And he had no luggage. The airline misplaced some of his equipment, including the special shoes that grip the ice during the run-and-push sequence that starts a skeleton race. He had his sled and helmet, however, so rather than lose precious practice time waiting for his baggage to arrive, Voudouris improvised. He used thumbtacks pointed out through duct tape wrapped around his feet to give himself some traction and thus began his international career. He finished 37th in Calgary and followed with a series of similar results: 33rd in Nagano, 53rd in Winterberg, 34th in Igls. Along the way, he mastered the lifestyle tricks of athletes who have no funding from their national federations. In Europe, Voudouris stays in youth hostels. "Ten to 15 dollars a night includes breakfast, heat and a bath and shower in the room. Can't beat that," Voudouris said. Dinner might be bratwurst and beer in a pub, or he said, "you can heat stuff up on the radiators." He knows all the deals on airline tickets. But when non-Americans were allowed to train last winter on the Olympic track in Park City, Utah, a decision made at the last minute during the world championships in Calgary, Voudouris discovered that flying would cost $1,000. The top sliders never thought twice. Voudouris and a fellow competitor from South Africa stuffed their sleds in a rental car and drove through a blizzard in Montana to get their runs in. At the same time he was learning the sport and trying to survive at its fringes, Voudouris was attempting to document its development in pictures. He would make a run, then lug his camera equipment back up the hill to photograph other sliders coming down, then race back down to get his sled and head back up, even on days of competition. "I'd get to the top exhausted," he said. "No wonder I came in close to last."
Besides a source of freelance income, the pictures also were a training aid for Voudouris. He studied the lines taken through curves by the best sliders and incorporated their techniques.Walker said Voudouris has made inroads in terms of earning respect. "He's made vast improvements over the last two years," said Walker, who serves as an unofficial adviser to Voudouris. "Last year was the first time he was considered a serious competitor. Until then, he was a recreational guy who was taking photos ... He's right in there in the running, especially with all of the other small countries like
Jamaica and American Samoa, all the little guys, he's 100 percent in there. He's not scaring the guys in the top spots yet, but he has sobered up a lot of people who thought he was out there goofing around." Inevitably, conversation with Voudouris turns to Eddie the Eagle, much to the chagrin of Voudouris. Eddie Edwards was a British construction worker turned inept ski jumper who competed in the 1988 Games in Calgary, charming many with his working-class outlook,
everyman appeal and go-for- broke jumping style while infuriating purists who howled that he did not belong in the Olympics. Edwards finished 55th of 56 jumpers; the 56th was disqualified. "What I don't like is I get compared to him sometimes: 'Oh, you're another Eddie the Eagle.' I always resisted being that. I never wanted to be that," Voudouris said. "Another one I get is the Jamaican bobsled team. Well, they were world-class athletes. I would rather be seen that way ... because of all the things I had to go through to get to this spot."
When skeleton was added to the list of sports for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Voudouris' quest assumed extra urgency. Based solely on his results, Greece finished 12th in the World Cup his first season, 14th in 2000-01. Then qualifying standards changed and Voudouris was relegated to the satellite Europa Cup because Greece did not have the two sliders now required of countries for the World Cup. What it means for his Olympics quest is this: The top 12 nations in the World Cup already have qualified spots for Salt Lake. Voudouris will compete in the Challenge Cup next month in Germany, where he must finish in the top eight of the remaining 12 nations. Should he manage that, one further obstacle remains: Greece must agree to send him.Recent political problems and changes in the country's various
Olympic committees have made approval uncertain. And there is the potential for embarrassment should Voudouris finish last. "They might see that as an affront," Voudouris said. "It's in the air right now, so I'm not thinking about it. I'm just going to do the best I can." His attempt to reach whatever his best might be was sorely compromised by the events of Sept. 11, an outcome which he does not regret at all. Voudouris had earned his license as an emergency medical technician in the 1980s. After aborting his Los Angeles-to-New York bicycle ride in San Francisco with a case of food poisoning diagnosed and treated by an EMT, Voudouris decided that becoming one was a good way to
return the favor. For the last nine years, he has worked as a subcontractor for the city's Department for Environmental Protection, watching over and treating workers digging new underground water tunnels in Manhattan and Queens.
When the World Trade Center was attacked, he never hesitated.Voudouris rushed to the area with a nurse he knew and set up a triage center in a firehouse one block from Ground Zero. He began irrigating dust and debris from firefighter's eyes until he and the nurse were evacuated the following morning because of instability in surrounding buildings. They were cleared to return that afternoon and set up another center in a restaurant and bar right around the
corner from the facade that came to symbolize the devastation. Voudouris procured supplies, served as a liaison with city officials and oversaw an operation that at its peak included five attending physicians and 10 nurses. Twice he worked 40 hours straight without sleeping. The physical toll was considerable. Besides exhaustion, Voudouris
suffered a scratched cornea from the particles in the air. He also developed bronchitis after he took off his breathing mask when patients could not understand his questions. Then there were the psychological effects of attending all those funerals and memorials. In all, he missed two months of training in Europe. By mid-December, when most top competitors had made 70 to 100 runs, Voudouris had 16."He was obviously suffering from some depression and could have easily given up on it," Walker said. "He had every reason in the world to say this is stupid, and he's still going for it. That in itself takes a very special kind of determination and perseverance." Still, it's an uphill climb. As an American, getting track time in Europe has been difficult. Representing a foreign country has complicated things in the United States. Voudouris is trying to get back to Lake Placid for training later this month. He has nearly depleted his savings and is using his parents' home in Glendale as a way station to reduce expenses. But he has his passion, his message and a chance to deliver it and he's not letting go."It's amazing the sacrifices people make to do the thing they
love, and he's one of them," Walker said. "He's the epitome of amateurism, the Olympic spirit the way it was intended. He's 100 percent that."
My Day 1 Pin from the Opening Ceremonies
Skeleton Tickets (Thanks to Buffy & John)
My Pin from Skeleton!
My cap from the Olympics!
Screen Captures from the Opening Ceremomies
Photographs By: John T. Whiting
Utah Olympic Park- Using the Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop, this will be the central
location for the Skeleton Event. Serving as a training ground for the USA Ski Team
during the year, the park has an elevation of 6880 feet, and has a summit of 7330 feet.
Depending on the sport, the capacity ranges from 12,500 to 20,500 people.
The Olympic Park will be home to Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, and Nordic Combined Events.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Venue: Utah Olympic Park
Men's Heat 1: 9:00am-9:45am (MST)
Woman's Heat 1: 9:50am-10:15am (MST)
Men's Heat 2: 10:20am-11:00am (MST)
Women's Heat 2: 11:05am-11:30am (MST)
8:00pm-11:30pm (EST) , NBC
Watch the Today Show in the Early Morning on NBC
List of Racers By Country Competing in Skeleton
Argentina: Glessner, German A.
Austria: Auer, Christain ~ Rettl, Martin
Canada: Alcock, Lindsay ~ Gibson, Duff ~ Kelley, Michelle ~ Pain, Jeff ~ Richard, Pascal
Czech Republic: Chuchla, Josef
France: Cavoret, Philippe
Germany: Hanzlik, Steffi ~ Kleber, Frank ~ Sartor, Diana ~ Schneider, Wilfried
Great Britain: Bromley, Kristan ~ Coomber, Alex
Greece: Ninou, Cindy ~ Voudouris, Michael Panagiotis
Ireland: Wrottesley, Clifton
Italy: Locati, Dany ~ Steger, Christian
Japan: Inada, Massaru ~ Koshi, Kazuhiro ~ Nakayama, Eiko
Korea: Kang, Kwang-Bae
Latvia: Dukurs, Tomass
Mexico: Carrasco, Luis
New Zeland: Couch, Liz
Norway: Pedersen, Snorre
Russian Federation: Mironova, Ekaterina
Switzerland: Pedersen Bieri, Maya ~ Poletti, Felix ~ Staehli, Gregor
United States of America: Dewitt, Lincoln ~ Gale, Tristan ~ Parsley, Lea Ann
Shea, Jim ~ Soule, Chris
Stats from his Race
NAME: VOUDOURIS, Michael Panagiotis
Heat 1 Heat 2
Push: 5.38 5.44
INT 1: (26) 21.27 (25) 21.38
INT 2: (25) 31.12 (24) 31.28
INT 3: (25) 41.58 (24) 48.01
FINISH: (24) 54.11 (23) 54.33
DIF: +3.22 +3.34
SPEED: 75.0 mph 120.7 km/h 74.5 mph 120.0 km/h
Way to Go Panos!
Photo by: Amendola, AP
News Stories from Feb. 2001
SALT LAKE CITY 2002
Voudouris Finds a Way
By Michael Dobie
February 21, 2002
Park City, Utah - They took away his sled. They couldn't stop his commemoration.
Michael Voudouris, the Ridgewood native representing Greece in the skeleton, was told he could not compete with the sled he turned into a memorial for people lost in the attacks of Sept. 11. Voudouris was disappointed, but resourceful.
He borrowed a sled from an old friend, U.S. slider Trevor Christie, and affixed 22 decals of the Greek flag to its underside. And he arranged the flags in two long columns, to represent the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This sled passed muster.
"The technical delegate looked at the sled and said, 'Oh, you figured out a way around it,' and patted me on the back," Voudouris said yesterday. It was a day of triumph for Voudouris, and not only because he did not
come in last, as he feared he might before the Olympics began. The last slider to qualify for the Games, he finished 23rd out of 26 competitors and even held the lead four sliders into the second run. Voudouris was more thrilled that his message about forgetting neither the nine fellow emergency medical technicians who died in the attacks
of Sept. 11, nor the 30 Greek citizens who perished, had been received. Since arriving in Salt Lake City, Voudouris has appeared on NBC three times and done countless newspaper and radio interviews.
Everyone wanted to know about the sled, the one with the graphic of the Twin Towers, the names of the EMTs, the Star of Life symbol, the 30 Greek flags and the name of his alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School, which lost 32 graduates. By the time he reached the finish yesterday, everyone seemed to know who he was. He slapped high-fives with spectators all the way up the finish chute and was bear-hugged by volunteers.
"It's a wonderful feeling, the best feeling in the world," he said.
Voudouris especially appreciated Christie's offer of his sled - "I'm going to bang it up, he's taking a risk," Voudouris said - and was humbled by the well wishes he received by the rest of the sliders. "To have the top guys in the world come over and congratulate me, what more can you ask for," he said.
As he stood in the finish area, tape on the shoulder of his tattered uniform, tape all over his beat-up helmet, Voudouris asked, "How'd I look?" He was beaming. The answer: He looked pretty darn good.
Michael Voudouris is a the New Yorker who is representing Greece at the
Salt Lake Olympics.
His event - skeleton.
And he is also a Ground-Zero worker who memorialized the names of co-workers killed in rescue attempts on September 11th on his sled.
But he was told by Skeleton organizers that his sled couldn't run as it was because it represented a political statement on his part. "As a New Yorker, your first instinct is to fight back. You don't want to take no for an answer, but you have to do what's right for the sport. I didn't come here to rock the boat." "I'm going to try again Wednesday (when the competition begins). I want to see what I can get away with,'' Voudouris told Steve Simmons in the Sun.
On his sled, Voudouris lists the names of nine co-workers killed trying to save lives, the number 30 (representative of the number of Greeks
killed in the World Trade Center tragedy) and a mural of the two towers of the trade center.
But somehow this has been perceived by someone as somehow "political". So - is it? Is a Ground Zero worker commemorating his friends and those lost by his homeland somehow politicizing the Olympics; something that is fundamentally against what the games are based on? Or is this an organizing body gone completley off the rails in the name of political correctness? It's up to you to decide how much the Olympic Skeleton organizers are.
Sledding Fans, Foes Hail NYC Paramedic
by: Lenn Robbins- NY Post
February 21, 2002 -- OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK
SALT LAKE CITY - Michael Voudouris got off his skeleton sled and ran down the chute high-fiving fans. He didn't win a medal in the skeleton, but the Queens resident emerged as the favorite of fans and his fellow competitors.
Voudouris is a New York City paramedic who for the better part of two days lived at Ground Zero, treating the injured and assisting firemen. He lost two months of training after the Sept. 11 attacks, but that's irrelevant compared to the 30 Greek countrymen who lost their lives.
Voudouris was the last slider to qualify for the Olympics - by one one-hundredth of a second no less - but he became the first athlete competitors from other nations wanted to meet. He was their eyes and ears to a tragedy they couldn't fathom. "They knew that it was bad, but they didn't understand how [bad] because they weren't there," said Voudouris. "It allowed me a chance to explain it to them. And you don't have to explain the details. You just have to look in a person's face, his eyes and they knew that it was tough and they were really happy that I decided to continue on."
Voudouris, who finished 23rd, wanted to show his love of his homeland and hometown by using a sled that had a painting of the Twin Towers on his Greek sled. But the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and International Olympic Committee said no. So yesterday morning, with a sled loaned to him by American Trevor
Christie, Voudouris used 22 decals of the Greek flag to create two "towers" on the sled. He wanted to use 30, one for each Greek who died, but that would have violated another IBSF rule.
"There was a technical delegate [from the IBSF] making sure that all the equipment meets the standards," said Voudouris. "He just looked at me and said, You figured out a way around it.' He just smiled,
tapped me on the back, and allowed me to put my sled in."
Skeleton: New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris lost his appeal to
use a sled that has a painting of the World Trade Center towers for his Olympic skeleton race.
Officials from the International Bobsled Federation and International Olympic Committee rejected his request, citing an IOC rule that bans "political, religious or racial propaganda" in Olympic competition areas.
"That's the way it's going to stand," said Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and races for Greece. "There's nothing to say because they made the ruling. Like in the military, where if an officer suggests something and it gets done."
Voudouris, 41, had hoped to honor victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
He spent two days at Ground Zero treating injured and weary firefighters.
Voudouris had a training accident Tuesday on his borrowed sled."I did a 360," he said.
"I went down. It looked dramatic on instant
He wasn't injured and expects to compete Wednesday.
Voudouris ranked 21st among the 23 racers who practiced Tuesday.
AP Press Story
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Greek skeleton racer loses appeal
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris lost his appeal to use a sled that has a painting of the World Trade Center towers for his Olympic skeleton race, and said Tuesday he's
having fun with the sled he borrowed. Officials from the International Bobsled Federation and International
Olympic Committee rejected his request, citing an IOC rule that bans "political, religious or racial propaganda" in Olympic competition areas. "That's the way it's going to stand," said Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and races for Greece. "There's nothing to say because they made the ruling. Like in the military, where if an officer suggests something and it gets done." Voudouris, 41, had hoped to honour victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent two days at Ground Zero treating injured and weary firefighters. Voudouris had a training accident Tuesday on his borrowed sled. "You should have seen me crash and burn," he said. "There was a small defect on the track and my sled popped out of the grooves. I did a 360. I went down. It looked dramatic on instant replay." He wasn't injured and expects to compete Wednesday. "We wiped the blood off the helmet chin guard before I got down to the cameras," he said. "I'm going to spend some time with the physiotherapists and I'll be all right." Voudouris ranked 21st among the 23 racers who practiced Tuesday. "It was a harrowing ride down," he said. "I can't wait to see still photos of it."
Michael Panagiotis Voudouris starts his run during a training heat for the men's skeleton. Voudouris, a New York City paramedic who used his dual citizenship to race for Greece, had hoped to speed down the
skeleton chute with the World Trade Center towers painted on his sled. It turns out that's against the rules. AP
Salt lake: Greece enters for the first time to the Olympics with the re-introduced sport of Skeleton (not an Olymcic sport since 1948), a 33 kilo sled on which the athlete lies down with the head looking ahead and gathers enough speed to exceed even 130 km/hour on a sloping curving downward channel track of ice. The athletes,
Michael-Panos Voudouris, 41 years old and Cynthia Ninos, 30 years old, have gathered the necessary international competition points to enter into the next level of the Olympics. Cynthia met third place
in the race of Altenberg!! We wish them good luck!
Greek finds skeleton racing relaxing
Posted: Sunday February 17, 2002 6:04 PM
PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) -- It all started off as a dare for Michael Panagiotis Voudouris, Greece's only entry for the men's skeleton at the Salt Lake City Winter Games. He wanted to photograph Julie Walker, the 10 times U.S. national champion, after her run at Lake Placid, 22 years ago. She agreed but only on the condition that he dared to go down the sheer ice track on a bare-bones sledge -- the skeleton.
He dared, became hooked and six years on Voudouris is competing in the breakneck-speed discipline, where sliders hurl themselves down the serpentine head-first on their stomach at speeds of over 80 mph (130 kph).
The burly slider, who goes into action on Wednesday, tried to explain the attraction.
"You're speeding in your car along the autobahn and hit a patch of ice -- it's an electrifying feeling. Now imagine doing that for 52 seconds...it's wicked," he said. The 41-year-old holds dual Greek-U.S. nationality and, when not careering down the world's bobsleigh tracks, earns his keep as an emergency medical technician.
For the last nine years he has been working as part of a team providing medical aid to workers building a water tunnel 850 feet (around 300 metres) below New York City. He also joined in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks. His sled carries the number 30, in remembrance of his colleagues who died during the recovery operation. "I do skeleton to relax. It's a matter of concentration and I have a very high threshold for excitement," said Voudouris. The motivation certainly isn't financial. Skeleton is making its return to the Olympics for the first time since 1948 in St Moritz. It is also being staged on the same track as the bobsleigh and luge events, rather than on its own, natural course. The absence of Olympic exposure has kept advertisers away, and funding consequently low.
"There's a number of things I don't have, compared to the other guys -- no funding for practice, for equipment or for coaching," the New York-born Voudouris said. "I've even got to act as my own masseur."
Voudouris not allowed to race with WTC sled
Posted: Monday February 18, 2002 8:15 PM
Updated: Monday February 18, 2002 8:36 PM
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris will be speeding down the skeleton chute at the Olympics. The Twin Towers won't make the trip with him.
Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and competes for Greece, said Monday the International Bobsled Federation rejected his request to race with a picture of the towers and other memorials on the bottom of his sled.
"They said that's not allowed. That's a political statement," he explained.
Voudouris, who ranked 41st on the World Cup tour last season, approached federation officials "as a courtesy" after arriving at the Olympics and mentioned the World Trade Center picture.
"They quoted IOC rule No. 61," Voudouris said. "I don't know what the small print says, but it has to do with the placement of personal decals." So he stashed his sled in his room and borrowed a modern, more expensive model from U.S. racer Trevor Christie, who didn't qualify for the Olympic team. "It was like going from a Volkswagen to a Maserati," Voudouris said. Meanwhile, Voudouris appealed the decision to the International Olympic Committee and expects to know more before Wednesday's races. The IOC bowed to public pressure and allowed American athletes to carry a flag from the World Trade Center at the opening ceremony Feb. 8.
"They have already honored the people from ground zero in the opening ceremonies with the flag," said International Bobsled Federation spokeswoman Ingeborg Kollbach. The bobsled federation doesn't "want to give any part of a controversy," Kollbach said. The sport, where athletes race facefirst down a bobsled track, is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1948. The 41-year-old Voudouris was disappointed. "It's on the underside," he said. "No one's going to see it unless it flips over." An IOC spokesman didn't return telephone messages seeking comment.
Voudouris' sled also includes the names of nine victims who worked for ambulance services, as well as the Star of Life symbol that adorns ambulances just about anywhere. He also has 30 small Greek flags to honor 30 Greek citizens who died, as well as the name of his high school, Archbishop Molloy, which lost 32 graduates.
That's not all. Voudouris usually wears a white Star of Life on his blue racing helmet, but he taped over it for the Olympics it as a precaution against more rules violations. Stories about the heroics of firefighters and police officers at ground zero have been well-publicized. Voudouris races with his symbols to honor his fellow paramedics.
"We've always been the third uniform that always gets passed over," he said.
Voudouris began racing in 1996. He also works as a sports photographer and was shooting a photo of former racer Julie Walker on the old track at Lake Placid. To get the picture, he had to take the run first.
Voudouris was hooked. He often makes the six-hour drive from New York to Lake Placid to train. He competes below the World Cup level but landed his Olympic slot by placing eighth in a Challenge Cup race by .01.
And that was after missing two months of practice, recovering from the bronchitis he had following Sept. 11. He also sustained a scratched cornea in the rescue operation. "I couldn't close my eye when I went to sleep," he said.
Voudouris was home in Queens when he heard news of the World Trade Center towers being attacked. He rushed to ground zero and spent two days treating injured and weary firefighters.
"The real heroes are the ones who went in," he said. "The rest of us were just there to help out."
Voudouris ranked 24th out of 26 competitors after two training runs Monday. With his skin suit scuffed and ragged from bumping the wall, he's no threat to the medal contenders.
"My best friends in the Olympic Village are the physiotherapists," he said. "They see the black and blue on my body and work around it." He loves the sport, though, and competes because skeleton is an escape.
"For two runs, I can be concerned only for myself," he said. "I don't have to worry about what's going on around me, if we're going to be stabbed or shot, or if anyone's going to die."
WNYC Public Newsroom- 93.9 FM
Queens Resident Slides In Skeleton
by Signy Peck
NEW YORK, NY 2002-02-20
After a 54 year ban, skeleton racing is being reintroduced into the Winter Olympics. It was originally taken out of the games because officials thought shooting down a bobsled track face-first, on a sled, was too dangerous. But now it's back, and the first qualifying runs will be held later today at the Utah Olympic Park. Queen's resident Michael Voudouris is scheduled to slide today....as a member of the Greek team.
Playing is an .MP3 file of the Radio Interview Sidgny Peck had with
Michael, his sister Katarina, and his Dad.
New York Daily News
From: Sports | Olympics |
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Greek Sledder Zero Hero
Michael Voudoris of Queens, the only Ground Zero rescue worker competing in the Olympics, finished in 23rd place in the skeleton competition yesterday, with a two-run time of 1:48.44. The was about five seconds slower than gold medalist Jimmy Shea, but time was not the object. Being here, competing, honoring his friends lost in the World Trade Center attacks, was. "Once you're on the sled, all the troubles in your world are gone," said Voudouris, 41, who represented Greece. "This is the culmination of everything."
An EMS technician, Voudoris was at Ground Zero within two hours of the second tower's collapse. After qualifying for the Olympics last month, he wrote the names of nine friends who perished in the attack, along with the number 30 the number of Greek nationals who died on Sept. 11. His plan was scuttled by the fine print of the International Olympic Committee, which has strict rules about the size and extent of writing on a sled. Trevor Christie, a U.S. skeleton slider who didn't qualify for the Games, lent Voudouris his sled. Voudouris put 22 Greek flag decals on its bottom, in the shape of two towers. "That's the best I could do," Voudouris said. As for his original sled, he plans to take off the runners, and put it on his wall, every decal and memorial intact.
Salt Lake Snippets: Kings of the Hill
Day 12: Tuesday, Feb. 12
By Bill Grant
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2002; 1:34 AM
SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a favorite childhood memory for many -- hurtling with reckless abandon down a snowy hillside facefirst on a Flexible Flyer, dodging trees, other sledders or an occasional car. Maybe that explains the buzz surrounding the wacky sport of skeleton, which returns to the Olympic stage today for the first time in 54 years.
Skeleton is another one of those extreme sports where Americans are expected to excel. For the uninitiated, skeleton racers -- men and women -- plunge down the bobsled chute at speeds up to 80 mph on the equivalent of a cookie sheet. Their chins are inches above the ice. They have no brakes. They have no steering wheel.
They have no sense. Don't take it from us, let's hear from the competitors:
Michael Panagiotis Voudouris, who will race for Greece but lives in New York: "You know how when you're driving really fast and you hit a patch of ice and you lose control and you get that total jolt
through your body. It's like that -- for 55 seconds. It's wicked."
Headfirst Into Controversy
NYC paramedic can't use sled as tribute to Sept. 11
By Michael Dobie
February 19, 2002
Salt Lake City - Michael Voudouris, the skeleton rider from Queens who hoped to memorialize his fellow emergency medical technicians who died while responding to the attacks of Sept. 11, will not be able to use his sled in competition tomorrow. Voudouris, a Greek-American who has dual citizenship and is representing Greece in the Winter Games, painted an image of the Twin Towers on the underside of his sled, along with the names of the nine EMTs who died that day. He said yesterday that the International Bobsled Federation rejected his request to race with the sled if the memorials and other decals were attached. "They said that's not allowed. That's a political statement," Voudouris said.
Voudouris, who has been concerned since he qualified for the Olympics last month that the sled at some point would be declared illegal, approached federation officials as a courtesy and told them about the picture of the World Trade Center. Voudouris said IBF officials cited an International Olympic Committee rule and banned the sled.
"They quoted IOC rule No. 61," Voudouris said. "I don't know what the small print says, but it has to do with the placement of personal decals." Ironically, the banning of his sled might help Voudouris when he takes to the track tomorrow; he had to borrow a model belonging to an old friend, U.S. slider Trevor Christie, who did not qualify for the American team. Christie's sled is newer and more expensive than the one Voudouris had been using.
"It was like going from a Volkswagen to a Maserati," Voudouris said.
Voudouris, 41, appealed the decision to the IOC and is hoping for a decision before tomorrow.
"They have already honored the people from Ground Zero in the Opening Ceremonies with the flag," IBF spokeswoman Ingeborg Kollbach told the Associated Press. The bobsled federation doesn't "want to give any part of a controversy," Kollbach said. Naturally, Voudouris, a resident of Ridgewood, was disappointed. "It's on the underside," he said. "No one's going to see it unless it flips over."
The sled also is adorned with the Star of Life symbol, 30 Greek flags to honor the 30 Greek citizens who died, as well as the name of his alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School, which lost 32 graduates.
N.Y. paramedic races with Sept. 11 in mind
But Voudouris, competing in skeleton for Greece,
is denied use of memorials
Originally published February 19, 2002
PARK CITY, Utah - New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris will be speeding down the Olympic skeleton chute. The Twin Towers won't make the trip with him.
Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and competes for Greece, said yesterday the International Bobsled Federation rejected his request to race with a picture of the towers and other memorials on the bottom of his sled.
"They said, 'That's not allowed. That's a political statement,' " he said.
Voudouris, who ranked 41st on the World Cup tour last season, approached federation officials "as a courtesy" after arriving at the Olympics and mentioned the World Trade Center picture.
"They quoted IOC rule No. 61," he said. "It has to do with the placement of personal decals."
In the Olympic Charter, the rule states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas." So he stashed his sled in his room and borrowed a modern, more expensive model from U.S. racer Trevor Christie, who didn't qualify for the Olympic team. Meanwhile, Voudouris appealed to the International Olympic Committee and expects to know more before tomorrow's races. The IOC bowed to public pressure and allowed American athletes to carry a flag from the World Trade Center at the opening ceremony. But the world bobsled body doesn't "want to give any part of a controversy," spokeswoman Ingeborg Kollbach said. The sport, where athletes race face-first down a bobsled track, is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1948. Voudouris, 41, was disappointed. "It's on the underside," he said. "No one's going to see it unless it flips over." Voudouris races with the symbols to honor his fellow paramedics, whom he calls "the third uniform that always gets passed over" for recognition. Voudouris competes below the World Cup level but landed his Olympic slot by placing eighth in a Challenge Cup race by .01 of a second. And that was after missing two months of practice while recovering from bronchitis he had contracted after Sept. 11. He also suffered a scratched cornea in the rescue operation.
Voudouris was home in Queens when he heard news of the World Trade Center being attacked. He rushed to ground zero and spent two days treating injured and weary firefighters. "The real heroes are the ones who went in," he said. "The rest of us were just there to help out." Voudouris ranked 24th out of 26 competitors after two training runs yesterday. He's no threat to the medal contenders. He loves the sport, though, and competes because skeleton is an escape.
"For two runs, I can be concerned only for myself," he said. "I don't have to worry about what's going on around me, if we're going to be stabbed or shot, or if anyone's going to die."
The Baltimore Sun
New York Daily News Online
Hometown Hero: Voudouris
Flying Head First to Race
SALT LAKE CITY
Michael Voudouris' father, Michael Sr., is proud of his son, the Olympian. He is from Greece, after all.
But he will watch with trepidation as his son a Queens product takes part in the skeleton competition. "I don't want to watch it," he says. "It seems very dangerous. Though we're very proud of Michael, we are concerned."
Thanks to dual citizenship, the younger Voudouris will represent Greece as he hurtles head first down the Bear Hollow luge and bob track tomorrow, in the first skeleton race in the Games in 54 years.
Skeleton the word comes from the German "Schlitten," or slide is perfect fit for the extreme-sports culture swallowing the Olympics. Queens product Michael Voudouris will represent Greece in skeleton.
It's also a good fit for Voudouris, a 41-year-old Archbishop Molloy grad who pushes the envelope. He has shrugged off his father's concerns and flies down mountains at 80 mph. And on Sept. 11, he worked furiously at Ground Zero as an emergency medical technician. He's pushing the bureaucratic envelope, too. Voudouris wrote the names of nine Trade Center victims on his sled and the number 30 to commemorate the 30 Greeks who died in the terror attacks, and carries a picture of the twin towers. But the IOC said he could not ride it and, rather than remove the memorials, he'll use a different sled with different decorations."I'm allowed a Greek flag, so I'm thinking maybe 30 smaller flags, and maybe in the shape of two buildings," he said. The father understands his son's flirtation with danger. He is an old sea captain, after all, and braved North Atlantic storms in tramp ships filled with coal before settling down in New York.
So he will watch, and hope, and who knows, maybe his son will end up with a medal.
"He's not a young fellow, and his chances are almost zero," he says.
"But remember in speed skating, the Australian won by being the only one not to fall down. Anything is possible."
Yahoo News Daily
Sunday February 17 06:37 AM EST
Athlete's 9/11 Tribute Nixed
By FILIP BONDY
Michael Voudouris' sled ran into Rule No. 61 yesterday, and now the New York City emergency medical technician won't be able to honor the World Trade Center heroes today when he begins his skeleton training runs at the Olympics.
Complete coverage of the World Trade Center disaster from New York's Hometown Newspaper!
Complete news, sports & entertainment coverage from New York City's No. 1 newspaper!
Voudouris, 41, a dual citizen who lives in Glendale, Queens, but is competing for Greece, wanted to race a sled that he turned into a sleek shrine. Voudouris is the only athlete here who was at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 one of the rescue workers on the scene. The sled features a "30" representing the number of Greek nationals who died in the tragedy, eight names of city EMTs and paramedics and a Virginia volunteer who died that day and a depiction of the twin towers.
But an official from the International Federation of Bobsled and Toboggan told him yesterday that the International Olympic Committee wouldn't allow his sled into the competition because it violated rules about logo and decal sizes.
Rule 61 stipulates that only a manufacturer's label of no more than 60 square inches and the country's flag can be on the sled. "A friend of mine from the federation came and told me, 'We have a problem here,'" Voudouris said. "As a New Yorker, you don't want to take no for an answer, but you want to do what's right for the sport."
His sled has been a steady attraction in the Olympic Village among fellow athletes and security agents. Rather than remove his tribute, Voudouris has borrowed a sled from an American skeleton athlete, Trevor Christie.
Yesterday, instead of cheering on the Greek bobsledders, as he had planned, Voudouris was busy customizing a sled that was faster than his own, but built to fit a different athlete.
"It's a good question, how I'll do," Voudouris said. "I'm going to try to forget everything I learned. It's like going from a Porsche to a Maserati. "[Christie] is a stronger athlete, and you have to have a saddle for your hips. If it's too wide, it's a problem." Voudouris graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, which is also represented on the sled, along with the number of people the high school lost in September.
'Just Wait Till Wednesday'
In the opening ceremonies, a flap over a World Trade Center flag was resolved when the IOC allowed the tattered banner to be carried into the stadium before the parade of athletes. Jim Shea Jr., an American skeleton slider, will race a sled today with a decal of a flapping U.S. flag, which is permitted. Voudouris said he hasn't given up on his idea of honoring the Sept. 11 victims when the official skeleton runs begin Wednesday.
"I'm asking around, seeing what I can get away with," he said. "I will only say, 'Just wait till Wednesday.' We'll see what happens." On Sept. 11, Voudouris worked well into the night as an EMT, carrying medical supplies through roadblocks for triage treatment. He remembers the smell of burned flesh, the sight of paramedics entering burning buildings that might swallow them whole. Voudouris suffered a scratched cornea in the process, was treated at a hospital and eventually returned to Ground Zero after a three-hour nap.
He developed bronchitis from the experience, began grinding his teeth at night and developed an infection in his mouth that required two root-canal operations. "I wanted to do something symbolic for all the heroes, but nothing political," Voudouris said, "but I think now it's just as important to keep the sled the way it is."
Other Photo's at Work
Photographs By: John T. Whiting
Panos out Sailing!
West Mountain Pro Ski Race
U.S. Polo Champs!
Anchorage Daily News- ALASKA
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Greek skeleton racer loses bid to use sled with WTC painting
By TIM KORTE, Associated Press
PARK CITY, Utah (February 19, 5:53 p.m. AST) - New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris lost his appeal to use a sled that has a painting of the World Trade Center towers for his Olympic skeleton race, and said Tuesday he's having fun with the sled he borrowed. Officials from the International Bobsled Federation and International
Olympic Committee rejected his request, citing an IOC rule that bans "political, religious or racial propaganda" in Olympic competition areas. "That's the way it's going to stand," said Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and races for Greece. "There's nothing to say because they made the ruling. Like in the military, where if an officer suggests something and it gets done." Voudouris, 41, had hoped to honor victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent two days at Ground Zero treating injured and weary firefighters. Voudouris had a training accident Tuesday on his borrowed sled. "You should have seen me crash and burn," he said. "There was a small defect on the track and my sled popped out of the grooves. I did a 360. I went down. It looked dramatic on instant replay." He wasn't injured and expects to compete Wednesday. "We wiped the blood off the helmet chin guard before I got down to the cameras," he said. "I'm going to spend some time with the physiotherapists and I'll be all right." Voudouris ranked 21st among the 23 racers who practiced Tuesday. "It was a harrowing ride down," he said. "I can't wait to see still photos of it."
This is Google's Tribute to Skeleton!
I was working (at the time) as a manager for a Proud Sponsor (9+ years)
of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
This is my claim to having family in the Olympics!
This was the first billboard that appeared in Salt Lake City.
It was introduced in August 2001 near downtown.
It reappeared in December 2001 and will remain there throughout the duration of the games.
This Billboard appeared in September 2001 near Point of the Mountain, on the way to Orem and Provo, Utah.
This Billboard replaced the Rolodex Billboard in mid-October 2001 and was displayed through November 2001.
The Olympic Torch Relay traveled more than 13,500 miles across the United States in 65 days and the Olympic flame traveled an average of 208 miles each day.
CREDITS & Links
Most Everything on this page is off the Internet. The news stories are right from the websites, and all the captions are included. I will add things as they become available. All the Logos are Trademarks or Copyrighted by their respective owners. This Page is intended as INFORMATION regarding the sport of Skeleton, and INFORMATION on Panos, and his involvement with the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Some Other Links to Follow