Warm Homecoming

Forget the ice-dancing pairs and the disappointing U.S. men's hockey team. What really captured the hearts of Olympic fans at Nagano were the under-financed tropical transplants who made up the bobsled teams from Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Jamaicans drew rave reviews this year for their bright-yellow attire, but it was the U.S.V.I. team who grabbed the unofficial but coveted T-shirt award, thanks largely to the neon-green iguana mascot, named Fighting Spirit, that adorned the shirts and bore a striking resemblance to a Japanese ceremonial dragon. T-shirt sales helped the financially strapped athletes survive their two-week Olympic stay. Still, the team faced the prospect of high shipping charges to get their sleds back home. In an ingenious move, the U.S.V.I. team placed three of its iguana-decorated sleds on the auction block, figuring it was more expensive to ship them home than to buy new ones in the States. A Japanese businessman snapped them up for $21,000 and plans to display them in a museum. The bobsledders now are back on the beaches of the U.S.V.I., basking in the sun, the hype from the Games and an appearance on the Letterman show. Winter Games, Salt Lake City, 2002. We be waiting, mon.

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