Winter Olympics / Lillehammer '94: Torvill and Dean practise at home: Bell falls in training

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The Independent Online
CHRISTOPHER Dean, who carried the flag for Britain in Sarajevo 10 years ago, will not even be at today's opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Games. He and his partner, Jayne Torvill, are still in Milton Keynes working on adaptations to their free programme before flying to Norway as close to the start of the ice dance competition next Friday as possible.

Their absence ruled out Torvill as a potential flag-bearer, that honour falling to the experienced biathlete, Michael Dixon. The army sergeant from Aviemore was chosen in a vote of team managers last night.

Graham Bell fell during practice yesterday, jarring his knee, but he should be fit to compete in the men's downhill, which opens the Olympic Alpine skiing programme tomorrow.

He needed treatment from the team phyisotherapist but he is expected to practise today. 'Graham cut in a little too early for a turn and had no chance to change direction for quite a big jump,' said Hans Anewanter, Britain's Austrian-born Alpine coach. 'Thankfully it is not a major problem and the knee should settle down quickly enough.'

The arrival in Norway of the Olympic flame obliged the police to step up security to ensure that local activists cannot extinguish it in favour of a torch the Norwegians lit at their home of skiing.

The flame was flown in to Oslo airport after a trip through Europe from Olympia via Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. It will be used at today's opening ceremony, but kept apart from the rival local torch, which was carried in a 75-day, 5,000-mile relay around Norway by about 7,000 runners. Lillehammer Games organisers abandoned plans for a symbolic mixing of the two flames at Greek insistence that only a pure flame lit at Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympics, could burn at the Games.

The flame's arrival coincided with the release from hospital of Ole Gunnar Fidjestoel, the ski jumper who had been due to leap into the arena with the torch during the opening ceremony for the stadium flame to be lit. He fell heavily during a practice jump on Thursday and will be replaced by Stein Gruben.

At a pre-Games news conference, Juan Antonio Samaranch, the president of the International Olympic Committee, promised to help Sarajevo to rebuild the Olympic sports venues destroyed during the war in Bosnia. He said talks had been held with companies about a project to restore facilities in the Bosnian capital where the 1984 Winter Games were held.

He also responded to persistent Norwegian criticism of a lack of democracy in his organisation by saying that reforms of the IOC would go ahead this year. Samaranch said he wanted to strengthen the body by bringing in all major world sports leaders in what would be a major restructuring of the organisation's make-up. The IOC will decide on changes in the way members are elected at its next session in Paris in September.

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