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Sunday, February 16, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Puerto Rican Bobsledders Finish 2Nd Run Upside Down

Times News Services

LA LECHERE, France - The driver and brakeman of the Puerto Rico II bobsled avoided serious injury yesterday when they wrecked during their second run.

Driver John Amabile, 29, an optometrist from New Jersey, and pusher Jorge Bonnet, 26, crashed in turn six of the 19-turn track in La Plagne. The bobsled turned on its side, then slid upside down for the rest of nearly one-mile run. Bonnet was taken to the course medical center and treated for a slight concussion.

ANGRY SPECTATORS

-- MERIBEL, France - Many spectators asked for their money back after arriving late for the women's downhill because they were not aware of a time change. The start was moved up an hour because of the threat of bad weather.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS

-- MERIBEL, France - Canadian Kerrin Lee-Gartner's victory in the downhill yesterday completes a first. Neither she nor men's winner Patrick Ortlieb of Austria had ever won a major race. Lee-Gartner left open the possibly she would retire after this season.

"I have to finish the season first. Then I have to take a holiday with my husband (Max). We have a lot to talk about. We want to start a family, but skiing has delayed that."

When Hilary Lindh took the silver in the downhill, it became a big story in her hometown of Juneau, Alaska. One problem: Juneau has no Sunday paper to tell it.

BUS DRIVERS IN JAIL

-- ALBERTVILLE, France - Riding a bus on narrow, cliff-hugging alpine roads is a harrowing experience for many Olympic visitors but frightening tourists is not what landed 411 French bus drivers in jail.

Aiton prison, a new penal facility near Albertville, is being used as a dormitory for drivers of official Olympic buses. When the Games end, the buses will move out and French convicts will move in.

IN THE SPIRIT OF `THE EAGLE'

-- ALBERTVILLE, France - Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, inept British ski jumper of Calgary fame, isn't jumping at these Games but there is representation. The Puerto Rican mogul team, Luis Gonzalez and Jorge Torrella, navigated the bumps in twice the time it required other skiers.

Serious competitors finished in around 33 seconds. Gonzalez and Torrella needed more than a minute, taking the course like your basic recreational skier. Fans who lined the mogul course recognized a happy time when they saw one and lustily cheered them on.

PRINCE ALBERT . . . IN A CAN

-- LA PLAGNE, France - Hey, the guy pushing that red-and-black bobsled sure looks familiar . . . Wait! It's Prince Albert of Monaco! What's he doing here?

Well, not winning, that's for sure.

It was hardly a royal ride in the opening runs of the two-man bobsled for His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, known on the start sheet as Albert Grimaldi.

The prince piloted Monaco II to 43rd place in the field of 46 sleds. The only competitors behind him going into today's final two runs are the two sleds from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico II.

"I'm disappointed with it," Albert said. "I was expecting at least 10 places ahead of where we are. The weather hurt us a lot. We'll have to fight to the end."

LOCAL `JOKE'

-- ALBERTVILLE - Olympic humor:

Question: What is the last thing you want to hear during the Winter Olympics around here?

Answer, from a cheerleader in Pralognan la Vanoise, where curling (the sport) begins tomorrow: "Give me a P . . ."

NOTES

-- If having a prayer makes a difference, Austria's team may have an edge. The official delegation includes a priest.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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