Anne Delaney

Monday, February 22, 2010

Delaney: Three semifinal teams for TVL

Back in Utica today after my Olympic adventure.

I was surprised to see three Tri Valley League teams in this weekend's Section III girls basketball semifinals. I probably should not have been shocked. Camden, Clinton and Whitesboro were competitive all season for top-dog honors, and Notre Dame was one of the surprise teams in the area.

Camden and Whitesboro are both finished for the year, and New Hartford lives. Earlier this month New Hartford coach Mike Callan told me his Spartans were a year away. From what I'm not sure but it looks like New Hartford quicker than Callan expected.

New Hartford joins Clinton and Notre Dame in sectional semifinals this weekend. Of the three, New Hartford might have the best chance to reach the finals. Class B Clinton and Class C Notre Dame both meet undefeated opponents on Saturday. Clinton (15-5) plays state No. 1 South Jefferson (19-0) at 4 p.m. at South Lewis. Notre Dame (15-5) plays state No. 2 Bishop Grimes (19-0) at 1 p.m. at Chittenango.

On paper, Class A New Hartford (13-7) has an even match-up with Carthage (13-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday at South Lewis.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Delaney: The Valley to Bellingham, area native reaches out

We have a joke around the office that there is a Utica-area connection to nearly everything that happens in the world. I would not have been surprised if one of Tiger Woods' mistresses attended a local high school.

I should've believed in such strong coincidences by now.

Fourteen months into my O-D tenure I had shoulder surgery in Maryland. The physical therapist who walked into my room the day after the operation was from Oriskany. Small world, right.

The world got even smaller for me last week during the world's biggest sporting event. While covering luge last week in Whistler, I logged into my e-mail and found a message from Ron Buchinski, Herkimer High School class of 1970.

"My wife and I were born and raised near Utica and now live just south of Vancouver. If you need anything give us a call," Buchinski wrote.

Who says people there aren't nice people in the world?

Buchinski's wife is Patricia Nestle Buchinski, Ilion class of '71. The Buchinskis live in Bellingham, Washington about 10 minutes south of the Canadian border, 90 miles north of Seattle and 40 miles from Vancouver.

They saw a story on Whistler on the Observer-Dispatch web site and wanted me to know they were there.

"I had some friends out here years ago, and a friend of a friend had car trouble or something," Buchinski told me Wednesday evening. "I'm glad we could help."

The Buchinski's business is helping people. Ron is a the director of the Lighthouse Mission in Bellingham where Pat runs the women's program. He was the executive director of a Lincoln, Neb. rescue mission for a decade before moving to Bellingham six years ago.

"There was no reason to leave other than to make a difference out here," said Buchinski in our phone call. "It's a beautiful area."

The Buchinskis have three daughters, Melissa, 35, Michelle, 32 and Mary, 28, who live in Lincoln and Denver. They also have eight grandchildren.

The northwest is also very different from Central New York, a region Buchinski considers to be blue collar. The cost of living in the northwest is higher, and especially to buy property. But Seattle and Vancouver offer diversity and are "international places."

With high tech industries such as Microsoft and Adobe software nearby, the region is more white collar. Sort of.

"Out here nobody wears white collars," Buchinski joked. "You don't see a difference in quality of work. It's more of laid-back lifestyle. It was an adjustment for me. Nobody wears a suit and tie."

Pat Buchinski just returned from a trip to CNY a few weeks. Ron's father, Walt, and Pat's father, also Walt, both live in Herkimer.

Ron has not been back in a couple of years, but he's planning on a trip this summer for his 40th high school reunion. He's not completely cut off from New York in the northwest. He gets to Seattle a couple of times a year for Yankees games.

"I wore a Yankees hat to a game and I heard about it," he said of Seattle fans.

There is something he's missing. "Utica has the best Italian food," Buchinski said.

"I can't wait."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Delaney: On my last day, Whistler more alive

Wouldn't you know it.

On my last full day in Whistler, the village was more alive than at anytime since I arrived nine days ago.

I did some work in the Whistler Media Centre and walked around the village on my way up to the luge track. It's beautiful here today. The sun is shining and it's about 45 degrees. This weather may not be winter enough for Winter Olympic fans, but for a winter-phob such as myself this is grand.

My quest for additional pairs of Vancouver 2010 red mittens has intensified. I went back to The Olympic Store in the Whistler Medals Plaza, but no luck. I have one more chance Thursday morning before I get on the bus to the Vancouver airport.

What I did find in the medals plaza was a wonderful, festival-type atmosphere enhanced by the music of local band Spy vs. Spy. They play at the Brew House in the medals plaza once a week but during the Olympics the duo is there daily at 3 p.m. On Wednesday, they played a compelling rendition of Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. I forgot about that song. I could've stayed there all day listening to them and watching Whistler go by. A popular activity for the passers by was posing for pictures on the Olympic rings in the plaza.

I miss Whistler already.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Delaney: Whistler party

I just came from the Whistler luge track back to the media centre. There's a party going on up at that track. And it's not just Team Hamlin. They put up signs on one fence, though the signs might have to come down because they're not official Ron Hamlin was told.

Next to the Hamlins is a party supporting German slider Tatyana Huefner, the No. 1 ranked slider in the world. On the other side is Megan Sweeney's crew, all in bright pink hats. They're easier to spot than the Hamlins.

Upbeat music is blasting from a sound system and there is a disc jockey, of sorts, getting everyone pumped up. It's working. A couple of women walked by me mouthing the words to a song from The Rolling Stones - 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction.'

Let's hope that is not the case for the lugers.

Delaney: Maybe Georgian luger not prepared

The father of the Georgian luger who died Friday while training on the Whistler Olympic track told the The Wall Street Journal his son was afraid of one of the turns on the track known as the fastest in the world.

I wonder if this is telling about the ability of 21-year-old Nodar Kumarithashvili to slide on the Whistler track that is hosting Olympic racing this week. Lugers don't admit fear. A crash shakes up any luge athlete, but if they don't get back on the sled they are done.

The Georgian luge federation said through the FIL Saturday that Kumaritashvili, ranked 44th in the world, had a sufficient number of runs to race Whistler.

Then why was he afraid?

USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi expressed some doubt Saturday that Kumaritashvili was experienced enough to handle the track. Kumaritashvili had 26 runs at Whistler and competed in the minimum number of World Cup events (5) during the season.

"This track is unforgiving for the best athletes but for athletes not at that skill level, they can die on this track," said Rossi Saturday.

Remsen's Erin Hamlin said Saturday she was not afraid of the track, even after Kumaritashvili's accident.

"No fear," Hamlin said.

Rossi said after the Games he plans to propose a change in the rules governing track access. There is a culture in luge where Olympic host countries protect track access leading up to the Winter Olympics. This is not an issue for stronger luge nations such as Germany, Italy and the U.S. But athletes in a nation like Georgia might need more time and increasing the number of runs could help them.

"I think (access rules) were based on an old-style thinking that you have the hometown advantage," Rossi said. "The hometown team already has the advantage. What's the difference in allowing other nations 50 more runs?'

USA Luge and Canada had a disagreement over an equal number of runs at tracks in the two countries. Rossi said he wondered if Canada was overzealous in protecting its track, and a rule increasing the minimum number of runs could control that.

Rossi said "a slew of things" need to be looked by the International Luge Federation and organizing committees as a result of Kumaritashvili's death. One of these is speed calculations of a track. A track designer presents speed calculations and then they are approved. What happens if speeds are then higher than anticipated, Rossi asked.

In December, the Whistler track was projected to be 85 miles per hour. Now it's more than 90 and U.S. men's slider Tony Benshoof said last week he expected speeds to go over 100 during Olympic racing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Delaney: The Winter Olympic's friendly Smurfs

We are big on volunteering in Utica. We all know the Boilermaker and America's Greatest Heart Run & Walk would be sunk without volunteers.

Those generous and dedicated souls have met their match at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. All over the games - in parking lots, venues and media centres - are more than 25,000 in bright blue coats, shirts, vests or hats.

The Smurfs as someone called them. The Vancouver 2010 Smurfs are not as scary. They are very helpful and very polite group willing to help an at-times clueless Olympic first timer find his - or her - way around.

All around the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are VANOC employees and volunteers in bright blue coats, vests or hats. They also have dark-colored wind pants.

Krista Cattapan, a 27-year-old volunteer from Ontario, said the bright green and blue colors of the Games was chosen based on natural colors of the ocean, trees and mountains in British Columbia. Cattapan, a nurse in Sault Ste. Marie is a volunteer at the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad which is a celebration of different cultures, theater and the arts from all over the world.

"I am very proud to be Canadian right now," said Cattapan, leaving the men's luge competition Sunday with her husband Brian. "Right from the get-go I've never stopped smiling. It's awesome. I get shivers just talking about it."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Delaney: Whistler death leads to questions

The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili after a training run Friday has raised issues about luge, luge tracks and track safety.

Before the Vancouver Winter Olympics, much of the discussion about luge centered on the Whistler track. The track is the fastest in the world because of an approximately 500-foot drop - the equivalent of 49 stories - at the the top of the course. This feature is most noticeable on the men's track which is slightly longer than the starts where the women's and doubles sliders enter the course.

There are more than two sides to this story, and it is too soon for clarity. There are more questions than answers.

Is the Whistler track too fast? Were proper safety precautions taken? Did Kumaritashvili, seemingly an inexperienced slider, have a sufficient number of runs at Whistler to compete in the Olympic Games?

The Georgian federation said he did through the International Luge Federation on Saturday morning. USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi questioned the ability of inexperienced sliders to navigate Whistler more than six months ago. Rossi, a former doubles slider for the U.S., said the most difficult thing to teach a luge athlete is to keep his or her head back when they are sliding down a track at 90 mph.

There is a tendency, Rossi said, for young sliders to lift the head for perspective. When an athlete does this, it alters the way the sled sits on the ice and steering is compromised. It can lead to accidents because of the sled's speed.

"That is the fear realized," said Rossi Saturday.

Kumaritashvili was ranked 44th in the world and raced in the minimum five World Cup events to quality for the Olympics.

We don't know what happened with Kumaritashvili's run on Friday beyond he lost control and flew helplessly through the air. An FIL official said Saturday the run was routine leading into curve 15. The unknown might be solved with a change in track access.

It is tradition or practice in the sport for Olympic host countries to be stingy with track times for other countries. Perhaps the Canadians took this practice too far but why wouldn't they?

Before the 2002 Winter Olympics, USA Luge restricted additional track access for two key competitors: Austria and Italy. Rossi said the Germans knew their request for more time at Park City would be denied and so did not bother to ask.

A new Olympic track opens about a year before the Games. There is testing and two weeks of training time, but beyond that host countries can pick and choose the level of access for other nations.

A nation such as Georgia, considered in the luge community to be a weaker country in the sport, might require more time on a track than traditional powers such as Germany or Italy.

Three American athletes shared the view that the changes to track start locations for the Olympics were an unfortunate reaction to Kumaritashvili's accident. Luge is a fast and dangerous sport. They are part of the attraction for athletes such as Erin Hamlin, Megan Sweeney and Tony Benshoof.

So how does luge maintain its extreme-sport appeal, ensure safety and regulate access?

In time answers may come. For now, there are only questions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Delaney: Grimmette's 5 Olympics hard to fathom

Covering the Winter Olympics this year is the biggest assignment of my professional life. And at times, I admit, I've been impressed by that.

USA luger Erin Hamlin is competing in her second Winter Olympics this year in Vancouver. Hamlin is only 23, she is sliding well and there is no reason to believe she won't compete in one or two more Winter Games if she chooses. Definitely impressive.

Mark Grimmette, Hamlin's USA luge teammate, is a five-time Winter Olympian. Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Torino and Vancouver.

Five Winter Olympics. That is impressive.

"It doesn't feel like five," Grimmette said. "When I started I just enjoyed the sport. When I made my first team, it was very exciting. Brian and I take it one at a time. The planning is four years at a time."

Brian is four-time Olympian Brian Martin, Grimmette's good friend and luge doubles partner. Together they built a catapalt in Grimmette's back yard in Lake Placid and won more international medals than anyone else at USA Luge.

The catapault launches fruit 100 yards. The sled, components of which are about 10 years old, has carried them to 65 pieces of hardware from Olympic, World Cup, World Championship and Challenge Cup races. They won bronze in Nagano, Japan in 1998 and silver outside of Salt Lake four years later.

On Wednesday, Grimmette was named Team USA flag bear for Friday's Opening Ceremonies.

"This team is made up of a lot great men and women and to carry the flag is an honor," said Grimmette at USA Luge doubles press conference Thursday evening.

The words 'five-time Olympian' will accompany Grimmette's name for the rest of his life. On a resume, in publications, in his obituary. What that life will be after luge he is not sure. Maybe coaching. Grimmette, who is originally from Muskegon, Mich., is not looking past his Feb. 17 race day.

Thirty-nine last month, it's unlikely Grimmette and the 36-year-old Martin will continue sliding after next Wednesday.

"Physically, it would be tough," Grimmette said.

Grimmette is the third USA luge athlete to carry the flag for Team USA. He is one of four Americans to compete in five Winter Olympics.

"When I'm by myself I think 'hey, that's pretty cool," Grimmette said. "When I'm with other people, it's not something I push forward. It's not everything I'm about."

That is impressive.

Delaney: Whistler Athletes Village secure

At least two tour buses took media to the Whistler Athletes Village on Wednesday for media tours.

When we arrived, the buses pulled into a big white tent. Think of the movie 'Stripes' in the scene where Bill Murray and Harold Ramis are "guarding" the Urban Assault Vehicle. That's how big this tent was.

Security personnel passed metal detectors under the bus. I looked out the window and four-wheel drive Olympic vehicles were getting the same treatment.

Before the bus moved, a Toronto policeman boarded and checked to see media had the proper credentials. Before we boarded the buses, media exchanged Olympic credentials for a special pass for the athletes village. We got the Olympic credentials - very, very precious - back when we left.

In the dining hall, media were only permitted to walk on the perimeter of the room. An escort was needed to get closer to the food stations. In the fitness centre, though, we mixed in with athletes as they worked out.

Swedish downhill skier Hans Olsson did not mind media being so close.

"Some people are scared of newspapers and stuff," said first-time Olympian Olsson, ranked 12th in the world. "You've got to sell the sport and be open minded."

The 25-year-old from Mora, Sweden - located in the central interior - said there should be multiple opportunities for media during the Olympics to get close to athletes.

"I think at least five times to get the opportunity to see everyone," Olsson said. "You should show more than the sport. Show the characters."

Delaney: Hamlin in her element

I had a chance to spend a few minutes with USA lugers Erin Hamlin and Megan Sweeney on Wednesday. I met them in the lobby of their residence in the athletes village in Whistler.

The one-day open media access was arranged by the IOC and was a new plan for the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the past, media tours of athletes villages have been done with a "cattle" mentality. All media moving as a group from one place to another.

That does not allow for much flexibility. Wednesday's set-up was much better. The media have free reign to visit the dining hall, fitness centre and lounges. Really a great experience.

Hamlin and Sweeney seemed great, very relaxed five days before the sport's biggest race. Both women, and teammate Julia Clukey, had the same demeanor at a luge singles press conference Tuesday night.

Hamlin was bubbly while answering reporters' questions after the formal press conference. It was nice to see. Hamlin, I'd say, is known for her ability to focus, compartmentalize her tasks and getting things done. On Tuesday night, it was a looser, more relaxed Erin Hamlin.

"Have fun," Hamlin told me. "Don't focus too much."

She ought to know. This is her second Olympics. I'm an Olympic rookie so it would be wise to listen to the experienced players.

Sweeney, a first-time Olympian, is doing the same thing.

"Erin has been great, I've been asking her questions," Sweeney said.

One tip Hamlin gave Sweeney. A small Coca-Cola bottle shaped swipe card attached to athletes' credentials can be run through Coke machines for free drinks.

Good tip.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Delaney: USA Luge's Grimmette is U.S. flag bearer

In breaking news from Whistler Wednesday night, USA Luge doubles slider Mark Grimmette has been selected as flag bearer for Team USA at the Opening Cermonies on Friday.

Grimmette, 39, a five-time Olympian from Muskegon, Mich., is the third USA Luge athlete to carry the flag for the United States.

"I'm still shaking," said Grimmette in a USA Luge news release. "I was incredibly surprised when Brian [Martin] told me, and I'm still trying to process it all. To be the person leading the U.S. Team into the Opening Ceremony is just such a great honor."

Grimmette competed in his first Olympics in 1994 in Lillehammer and finished fourth with partner Jonathan Edwards. With current partner Martin, Grimmette earned a bronze in 1998 (Nagano)and a silver in 2002 (Salt Lake City). The duo crashed in 2006 in Torino, Italy and did not finish.

He is the one of three five-time Olympians on the 2010 U.S. team. Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and ski cross racer Casey Puckett (Aspen, Colo.).

"While all of us at U.S. Luge are extremely proud that Mark is being honored this way, my first reaction wasn't on an organizational level - it was personal - for an athlete that has become a friend," said USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi in a news release Thursday.

Olympic luge doubles is Feb. 17. The U.S. athletes, Martin and Grimmette and Dan Joye and Christian Niccum, will have a news conference at 7 p.m. today at the media centre in Whistler.

Delaney: Bengt Walden marching with Team USA

One of the U.S. lugers I did not talk to Tuesday was Bengt Walden.

Bengt actually has one of the more interesting stories among the group. He was born near Stockholm, Sweden, is married to a U.S. women's singles luger and became an American citizen in the fall. In his fourth Olympics, Walden will walk with the Americans and race for the red, white and blue. Walden competed for Team Sweden in 1998 and 2002. He was a coach for the Swedish team at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy.

"It's going to be a big difference and it's going to be a big honor," Walden said.

Walden's wife is Ashley Hayden Walden, a U.S. Olympic luger in 2002. Ashley Walden did not make the Vancouver Olympic team and is working for NBC.

"It would be a story book if a husband and wife were on the Olympic team," Bengt said in January. "It's been hard (for Ashley), no doubt."

Another note....the U.S. flag bearers for Friday's Opening Ceremonies will be announced tonight. We'll get some more information on this later. Italy's Armin Zoeggeler, who won the World Cup points title, was asked to be a flag bearer for the Italian contingent but he declined. The men's singles racing begins the next day.

Delaney: Gray clouds are going to clear up.......

There were some snow flurries falling this morning when we left the Tamarisk condo. From what I gather, there hasn't been much snow here this year. Last year, the snow was piled high but so far very little of the white stuff this season.

It's cloudy and overcast today, obscuring the view of those beautiful mountains we saw Tuesday. I think the snow turned to a drizzle by the time I reached the media centre. I walked through Whistler village again to get a much-needed cup of coffee. The village was quite active music coming from one direction or another. There were plenty of people out and about (say the last word with a Canadian accent and it's much more fun: aboot).

Still getting settled into today a bit. I hope we'll get some video up on the web site (www.uticaod.com) of the inside of my condo. I'm sharing a place with Christa Case Bryant, a reporter at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston. Not sure I wrote that before. We'll call the video: Olympic reality: The reporters.

Delaney: Does this bus go downtown?

Good morning from Whistler.

I am very glad Day 1 of our Olympic experience is over. It's an unsettling feeling at times to be working in an unfamiliar place where you don't know where to go, how to get there, or what to do.

Perhaps we need to travel more? Hint. Hint.

One of the biggest accomplishments Tuesday was getting on and off the right bus. It really isn't that hard, there are three options from the Whistler village to my condo, which is south of the village on the Sea-Sky Highway (Route 99).

I got on the right bus yesterday morning with the help of an Olympic volunteer, who on his day off was going skiing. He also showed me the right place to get off and pointed in the direction of the media centre. It was great to have Mr. Gardiner, whose daughter works for VANOC - Vancouver Olympic Committee.

Getting on the right bus to come home, that was a different matter because it was dark when I left the village. I crossed the street once or twice to make sure I was right and got home with no problem.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Delaney: Exhausted but exhilarated


Just returned to the media center in Whistler after a "hike" up Blackcomb Mountain, one of two mountains overlooking Whistler village.

The afternoon wouldn't have been so tiring had I not taken a wrong turn and ended up on a vertical dead end. A Canadian police officer took my name and assured me I did nothing wrong. I was looking for the luge track. You'd think one of those things would jump out at you.

As it turns out, I was given some bad directions. I did not get lost. That's an important distinction. I found the track and more. Looking down from the track, I saw snow-capped mountains rising in the distance. A gentleman I met at the Adriondack Ice Bowl Pond Hockey Tournament a couple of weeks ago told me I wouldn't believe the scenery out here. That is an understatement. I could not take my eyes off them.

I don't ski. I sort of wish I did now. The next time my world-travelled brother-in-law picks Whistler as a mid-winter vacation spot, I'm going with him. I'll carry his boots, his bags, his skiis. Anything. Anything to see these mountains again.

Delaney: Let the trading begin

One of the first things a volunteer asked me on my way into the media center this morning was if I had any pins.

When I told him, 'no', he snapped his fingers with disappointment. Someone told me, many, many times, before I came to the Olympics to bring pins to trade. I didn't listen, and wouldn't you know it's one of the first things I hear on my first day in Whistler.

Delaney: Hello from Whistler

We made it. The Observer-Dispatch is at the Winter Olympics.

Arrived at our accommodations about 11 p.m. Pacific time after a seemingly endless bus ride from the Vancouver airport. The bus driver is still getting a feel for what to do and where to go. At the airport, he was studying a map for a long time before we pulled out.

The Canadians are bringing people from all over the country to work at the Games. The bus driver said he's here from Alberta province. A man processing media credentials at the airport is here for three weeks from Montreal and a woman was in from Toronto.

I think there is something to Canadians' reputation for being extremely nice. I tried to get in contact with my Whistler roommate while the media bus was navigating around Whistler. The bus was stopped outside of hotel for a long time while the driver went inside. By the time I reached Christa on the phone, the bus was ready to move again. I suddenly yelled 'whoa,' that I needed to get off and the bus driver looked surprised.

He helped me with my bags and asked if someone was going to meet me. We talked about the address of my destination at the airport as he looked over a colorful map and he seemed to remember me.

Then again, maybe Canadians aren't all nice. The South African cab driver, who's been here 20 years, ran over my new suitcase after dropping me off at the condo.

No one's perfect. The Canadians, though, still have a better National Anthem.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Delaney: Headed to Vancouver

The first leg our journey to Vancouver-Whistler is complete.

I landed in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport about 45 minutes ago and already there have been two sightings of New Orleans Saints' hats. That didn't take long. It seems strange, the Saints treading on sacred Bears' territory. One guy said he was from Louisiana and was on his way to San Diego - Drew Brees' previous city - from Washington, D.C.

Speaking of Washington, D.C., our trip got off to an interesting start this morning. On the way to BWI, my sister's minivan got stuck in the snow. In a cul-de-sac. The van didn't look stuck but we were spinning our wheels after making a left turn up a small hill. These Mid-Atlantic region drivers are not very hearty.

They will be tested again today. I hear the power just went out.

This my second visit to O'Hare and I have yet to see the city of Chicago. Chicago's sites will have to wait.

It's onto Vancouver.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Delaney: Good ice for the Americans

U.S. Olympic singles lugers Julia Clukey, Erin Hamlin and Megan Sweeney all drew 'A' seeds for the upcoming Winter Olympics outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

By finishing in the Top 12 after races in Germany and Italy, the three Americans assured themselves of best ice conditions once they get onto the fast track in Whistler.

Delaney: Big win for Dolgeville girls....basketball

The Dolgeville girls basketball team defeated previously unbeaten Little Falls 49-43 in overtime Wednesday. The result of the game is an upset, certainly. Using that word, though, might be doing a disservice to Dolgeville's effort.

They weren't lucky. They were smart.

Dolgeville played a full-court man-to-man press with some double teams thrown in to wear down Little Falls. The Mounties, who came into the game ranked No. xx in the state in Class C, have a short bench. Seven varsity players suit up for the defending Section III Class C-1 champions and coach Pam Munger knew they were vulnerable.

"That's what I'd play against us," Munger told me earlier in the year.

Olivia Tooley scored 20 points for Little Falls, Jordan Mitchell added 12 but Dolgeville's defense held 6-foot sophomore center Jenna Becker to six points in the Blue Devils' fifth-straight win and biggest in coach Lee Quackenbush's seven seasons.

"After the game the girls were so elated," said Quackenbush, a man of few words. "They worked so hard for this. This group (seniors) started in sixth grade. The seniors, we went into the game and we knew we had a shot."

The win moves Dolgeville to 5-5 in the league and 9-7 overall and is, for now, the signature moment of a lengthy rebuilding project. Instead of an end to the season, the Blue Devils basketball team joins its perennially talented volleyball team in the sectional playoffs.

In 2007-2008, Dolgeville didn't win a league game and only three overall. The team won just one league game last year but improved to seven wins. Dolgeville won a state girls basketball title in 1981 and the school dropped the sport the next year for nearly a decade.

"Because we're starting to win, I think people are starting to notice," Quackenbush said. "They talk more about basketball."

When Quackenbush came on board, he started an elementary school program with 16 to 20 kids. Seniors Sarah Reardon, Corinne Alling, Kassie Gonyea, Mary Deveny and Shelby Sutton were products of the program now with approximately 40 players in grades 3-6.

"This senior class is the first class out of that and you see a tremendous difference," Quackenbush said. "The fundamentals are there."

Delaney: SI predicts bronze for Hamlin

Sports Illustrated, in its Olympic preview issue, picks Remsen's Erin Hamlin to earn a bronze in women's luge.

On page 95 of the Feb. 8 issue, Hamlin, the reigning women's World Champion, is third behind German sliders Tatjana Huefner and Natalie Geisenberger. There is a picture of Hamlin on page 76 accompanied by a short block of text.

If the magazine's pick comes true, the medal would be Hamlin's fourth and biggest bronze of the season. She finished third behind the German athletes in three World Cup races. No U.S. woman has won an Olympic luge medal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Delaney: Former lugers remember

An actor, an astronaut, an attorney and three businessmen.

Competing in luge apparently prepares a person for a variety of career choices. Erin Hamlin has something to look forward to after her sliding days are done.

Five USA Luge Honorary Olympic Team Captains spoke on a USA Luge conference call Wednesday afternoon and all will be at the Olympics next week.

"It's going to be U.S. (medal) sweep," joked Scott Parazynski, M.D., an emergency medicine trained astronaut who is the only person to have walked in space and climbed Mount Everest.

Actor Eric Mabius, currently playing Daniel Meade on the ABC TV series Ugly Betty, and attorney Ray Ocampo, who was the one-man Filipino Olympic luge team coached by Parazynski in 1988, were also on the call.

"It's more complicated and difficult than I thought it was," said Ocampo, who had dreams of being a U.S. Olympic marathon runner before an Achilles tendon injury. "You have to be strong enough to relax on the sled and relax as your zooming along."

Parazynski did not make the U.S. Olympic luge team in 1988 and then devoted himself to medicine. He has been on five Space Shuttle missions and seven space walks.

Mabius, whose show was recently canceled by ABC, was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team for three years before switching to acting.

"It's very hard to describe because it is so subtle and requires such finesse," Mabius said. "You're not going to see someone tighten a muscle group to steer at 96 miles per hour."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Delaney: Hollywood, where everyone wins

Ten movies now get Academy Award nominations for Best Picture?

When did the Academy Awards get to be like youth and scholastic sports where everyone is recognized?