Skater Peterson to Carry U.S. Flag

Thursday, February 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Short-track speedskater Amy Peterson will open her fifth Winter Olympics by carrying the U.S. flag into the opening ceremony Friday night.

Peterson, a three-time Olympic medal winner, was chosen Wednesday night in a secret ballot by her teammates. She has succeeded as an elite athlete despite chronic fatigue syndrome.

Third-generation Olympian Jim Shea Jr. was chosen to give the athlete's oath. It's the same honor his grandfather, Jack Shea, received at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., his hometown. The elder Shea died at age 91 last month after a car wreck.

The flag Peterson will carry into the parade of nations will not be the one recovered from the rubble of ground zero, although that treasured banner will be part of the ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee agreed Wednesday to allow the World Trade Center flag to be carried into the opening ceremony and be the official U.S. flag of the Winter Games.

After the parade of nations, it will be brought into the stadium by eight U.S. athletes, New York City firefighters and Port Authority police. The athletes will be announced Thursday.

In choosing Peterson, American Olympians bypassed skier Picabo Street, who lobbied for the honor for the past year, especially the last two days. She still could be chosen to help carry the ground zero flag.

``I just know it's going to be a very, very patriotic evening and we're going to give America something very, very pure to be proud of,'' Street said earlier Wednesday. ``I hope we can make some of our military abroad feel proud.''