Winter Olympics / Lillehammer '94: The Games from Axel to Zhulin

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A is for axel. Named after its inventor Axel Paulsen, it is the most difficult figure skating jump and is recognisable as the only one which has a forward take-off.

B is for bobsleigh. The least likely Olympic four-man team hailed from Jamaica. So strange is the story of their 1988 campaign that it has been made into a comedy film 'Cool Runnings,' which has its British premiere this month.

C is for cow bells. Not to be heard this time, thankfully. Lillehammer officials have ordered the Swiss to drop their clangers.

D is for Doris. In a family squabble at the Albertville Games, Austria's Doris Neuner was first in the luge. Her sister, Angelika, joined her on the rostrum, coming in second.

E is for Eddie the Eagle. A soar point with Olympic officials. Banished, he was last seen in Bulgaria heroically failing to earn another chance of failing heroically.

F is for Flame. Wary of Greeks bearing the traditional gift of a flame kindled on Mount Olympus, the Norwegians lit their own by rubbing sticks together at their birthplace of skiing. Lillehammer was told to use the Olympia offering and will keep its own for the forthcoming Paralympics.

G is for Gooch. Morose, carrying the woes of the world on his shoulders . . . no, not that one. Nicky could be a winner, if he gets his skates on.

H is for Heiden. Eric Heiden swept the speed skating events at the Lake Placid Games in 1980, becoming the first man to win five golds in individual events. Having lost the obscurity he had enjoyed, the man with the 27in thighs retired, saying: 'I really liked it best when I was a nobody.'

I is for Ice dance. Is it sport? Is it showbusiness? There can be no question about it. Britain's going to win a medal, so it must be a sport.

J is for Jay. Oldest male gold medallist, Jay O'Brien, aged 48 years 257 days, was in the 1932 US four-man bob with Tippy Gray, who, among 3,000 songs, wrote: 'If you were the only girl in the world.'

K is for Kasparaitis. Sens ing there was no future in playing ice hockey for his native, newly independent Lithuania, Darus Kasparaitis stuck with the Soviet Union, disguised as the Unified Team at Albertville, and struck gold.

L is for lead. Fired at tar gets in vast quantities by biathletes. Environmentallly conscious Lillehammer has a special machine to retrieve spent bullets so the lead can't contaminate the water supply.

M is for Moguls. The freestyle discipline of skiing through snow bumps on the course. Edgar Grospiron scored a home victory for France on the event's debut at Albertville two years ago, but was success built on a special diet? 'Yes. One week red wine, and the next week white wine.'

N is for Nones. A customs officer from a village in the Dolomites, Franco Nones in 1968 became the only non-Nordic to have won a cross-country gold medal. The Italian trained in Sweden, which has shared the other 55 gold medals awarded with Norway, the old Soviet Union and Finland.

O is for Oreiller. A devil-may-care former member of the French resistance, Henri Oreiller told rivals not to bother turning up for the first Olympic men's downhill at St Moritz in 1948. He won it easily.

P is for Puck. A midwin- ter night's dream turned to nightmare when Great Britain's ice hockey team failed to qualify. No prizes for being bottom.

Q is for Quadruple. The kind of spinning leap that mesmerises skating judge and spectator alike. Sets potential champions apart from the merely excellent skater.

R is for Runners. The 'wheels' on luges and bobs. Heating them has such a spectacular effect on performance that a guilty verdict and disqualification is inevitable.

S is for Slow. Resat Erces, of Turkey, thundered down the alpine combined downhill course in 1936 at 5.41mph to clock 22min 44.4sec. The fastest downhiller was the American Bill Johnson in 1984, who averaged 64.95mph.

T is for Tomba. The Ital- ian slalom skier with the rock- star following could make history. A victory would make him the first man to take golds at three successive Games.

U is for Uphill. The kind of struggle facing Britons going the other way on skis. Life is full of surprises, so don't be alarmed if the Bells ring out.

V is for V. Spread ski jumping style unveiled in 1985 by Jan Borklov, who raised two fingers to the parallel style and traditionalist judges. World Cup wins and wind tunnel tests proved the Swede right.

W is for Witt. Katarina will question the wisdom of her comeback when inevitable defeat damages her professional appeal. A likely story]

X is for X-country. Known as langlauf, cross-country is a route march on skis over distances from 10km to 50km. The classical style involves a diagonal step, while the freestyle is just that. Excitement mounts as a racer cries 'track' and the pursued must pull over.

Y is for Youth. Toni Nieminen became the youngest male gold medallist when he helped Finland to win the team jumping at Albertville in 1992 aged 16 years and 259 days. Two days later he set the individual event record, too, by winning on the large hill.

Z is for Zhulin. Alexander and his partner Maia Usova are the world ice dance champions and don't take kindly to British assumptions about Torvill and Dean skating away with the Olympic title.

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