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Salt Lake City games set to begin

By United Press International

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Despite a fresh three inches of snow and more forecast for later on Friday, 55,000 spectators are expected to attend the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

White House spokesman Ari Fleisher said President Bush will attend the opening ceremony. He will be joined by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the first time a U.N. chief will see the games start.

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Annan was invited to attend the games in Utah by International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckard said.

Meanwhile, Biathlete Kristina Sabasteanski, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, was one of eight competitors selected to carry the World Trade center flag during the opening ceremony.

One athlete from each of the winter sports was chosen by members of the U.S. Olympic team top carry the tattered flag, which was found by rescue workers three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Joining Sabasteanski will be skeleton athlete Lea Ann Parsley, who is a firefighter in her hometown of Granville, Ohio. Stacy Liapis, a member of the women's curling team whose boyfriend is a firefighter; and Angela Ruggiero, a member of the women's hockey squad and close friend of former teammate Kathleen Kauth, whose father was killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

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Also selected were figure skater Todd Eldredge, a three-time Olympian; Mark Grimmette, a member of the men's luge team who also is making his third Olympic appearance; snowboarder Chris Klug, who is back for his second Olympic Games following an organ transplant; and speed skater Derek Parra, who participated in the 1995 Pan American Games after being struck by a car at the start of the competition.

In other Olympic developments:

-- Steve Yzerman plans to return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup next week and represent Canada in the Olympics after recovering from arthoscopic surgery on his right knee. Yzerman expects to play in Canada's first game in the Olympics against Sweden on Feb. 15.

-- U.S. bobsledder Pavel Jovanovic will not compete in the Winter Olympics after an appeals panel suspended him for two years failing a drug test. Jovanovic had been suspended for nine months, but instead of being cleared for the Games, he drew a stiffer penalty.

-- The U.S. women routed Russia 7-0 in a hockey exhibition game Thursday night, extending the Americans' pre-Olympic record to 32-0. The United States opens Olympic play Tuesday against Germany. Russia faces Sweden on Monday.

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-- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich will be sidelined indefinitely because of a blood clot in his right leg, likely keeping the Russian Olympic Team member out of the Games. Toronto general manager and coach Pat Quinn said Yushkevich has a clot in the calf and knee area.

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