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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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April 18, 2008 6:30 AM

Welcome, ringheads

Posted by Ron Judd

It's 110 days until the cauldron is lit in Beijing. Do you know where your blood-doping test kit is?

Neither do I. But I bet someone out there knows how to acquire one. Which is why we're giving in to the temptation and launching The Times' first live Olympic blog, which will be running from now until ... well, until someone pulls the plug.

For me, it'll be a labor of love. When you work as a journalist for 20 years, you find favorite subjects. Mine are on a very short list, and at the top of it --just above those flaming-red polyester pants that the late Miss Budweiser hydroplane owner, Bernie Little, used to wear -- is the Olympic Games. I've been to all of them since Nagano in 1998 -- an eye-opening experience that led to many months of intensive therapy, trying in vain to get that dastardly image of little Tara Lipinski out of my head.

Here's a glimpse at the rest of my Olympic experience, in one paragraph: In Sydney, I saw Australia's Cathy Freeman light the cauldron and win the 400 meters, which made me cry. In Salt Lake, I watched Apolo Ohno crawl across the finish line in that famous human stock-car speedskating race, and later, I was unjustly accused by colleagues of stealing a gigantic stuffed-owl Olympic mascot from a display area in the Main Media Center. (This also made me cry, but in a different way.) In Athens, I bit my tongue as superstar medalist/pathological liar Marion Jones threatened to sue any of us who dared suggest she might be a doper. And in Turin, I watched Sweden beat the U.S. in women's hockey and then give up their secret: They had pumped themselves up by watching the Disney movie "Miracle," thereby turning our own Hollywood sap against us.

Oh, yes: I also once snuck into a portable toilet reserved exclusively for "Olympic Family" VIPs, and can confirm that, indeed, the urinal cakes are frosted.

That's my story. And here is my slant: In spite of their foibles -- and there are many -- the Summer and Winter Olympics remain special to a lot of people around the globe. They still are the only time the entire world gets together for an occasion that doesn't involve killing people or fighting over something. OK, except for that little Tonya Harding incident. In spite of protestations by defeatists who suggest the Games have outlived their usefulness, I think they're worth fixing, fighting for, saving. Embracing. And just enjoying. To quote John Prine, it's a big old goofy world. And nothing reflects it better than the Olympic Games.

Check back here often for the latest news, rumors, local-athlete updates, busted drug dopers and incendiary opinion on all things related to the five rings. We'll do our best to make this your single-stop Games news source. And hope you'll take the time to add to the discussion.

I know it's something you should never say to people with an internet connection, but in this case, it fits: Flame on.

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.