Curling’s great leap: winning over Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis is challenging Vernon Davis to a curling match.

Lewis sprinted onto the curling scene Sunday at the Vancouver

Games, though he insists he’s been a fan of the rock-throwing ice

sport for years now. The nine-time gold medalist sprinter gave the

American men a pep talk before their match with Britain, just as

Pro Bowl tight end Davis of the San Francisco 49ers did a day

earlier.

“I got ’em fired up and told them they look very youthful

compared to the Brits, so put them out to pasture,” said Lewis, a

first-time curling spectator.

The 48-year-old Lewis, who captured four Olympic gold medals at

the 1984 Los Angeles Games, is also attending his first Winter

Olympics.

Lewis said he always tries to learn about a new sport. At the

Beijing Games, it was badminton and table tennis.

“I think a lot of athletes don’t know what’s going on (in these

obscure sports) and make fun of it,” said Lewis, who recently

started a Web site to encourage fitness and healthy lifestyles for

families. “But people love great competition and the Olympics are

so easy to get caught up in.

“At the end of the day, it’s not like any other team sport. You

make a mistake and you’re done for the rest of your life. In

baseball, you make a mistake and you have Game 7. You’ve got to be

perfect and perform.”

Lewis better get out on the ice if he’s going to beat Davis, who

is ahead in this matchup considering he’s already curled a couple

of times.

“I’d love to play,” he said. “I’ll take on Vernon.”

NAGASU’S MOM: The mother of U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu is

being treated for thyroid cancer.

Ikuko Nagasu is undergoing chemotherapy and, as her 16-year-old

daughter says, taking “lots of pills.” She was diagnosed last

fall and has had two operations.

Ikuko Nagasu will begin radiation treatment after the Olympics

and has been told the prognosis is very good, said Mirai Nagasu’s

publicist, Lynn Plage.

The skater from Arcadia, Calif., posted a message on Facebook

about her mother. Mirai Nagasu is campaigning for her mother to win

the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award, given to someone in the

background who helped an athlete become an Olympian.

Nagasu writes that her mom would work long days in a restaurant

until 11 p.m., but have her daughter at skating practice at 5 a.m.

each day.

“She kept this grueling schedule to support my dreams. Sleep

deprived and worked to the bone, she has inspired me to never give

up,” Nagasu said. “Watching her sacrifice for me inspires me to

push forward. How could I see my mom wearing clothes with holes in

them so I could afford lessons, and not be grateful?”

SKICROSS, JAMAICAN STYLE: Errol Kerr knows the image most people

have of Jamaica when the Caribbean nation enters the Winter

Olympics.

“They think it’s a joke,” he said.

But Kerr’s appearance in the skicross is no joke, mon.

He qualified ninth among the 33 riders who made their way down

Cypress Mountain on Sunday, the culmination of two years of hard

work after making the switch from Alpine racing.

To date, the island nation’s biggest contribution to the Winter

Games was the comical appearance by the Jamaican bobsled team in

the 1988 Calgary Games. The team’s exploits were made into a

movie.

Kerr was born in New York City and trains in California. He is

competing for Jamaica to honor his father, Errol Kerr Sr.

Kerr said he received more than 2,000 messages on his Facebook

page Sunday morning, most from Jamaicans hoping he’d be like Usain

Bolt down the hill. Kerr, however, didn’t make it past the

quarterfinals.

But that doesn’t diminish his love for skicross. He thinks it’s

the coolest sport going.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “You’re putting four guys on a

course at one time. Eight poles and twelve edges racing down a

course with huge jumps up to a hundred feet in the air.”

MR. AMBASSADOR: Figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was appointed an

ambassador for the 2014 Sochi Games.

He accepted the honor in Vancouver Sunday from Dmitry

Chernyshenko, president and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing

Committee. Plushenko did not rule out the possibility of skating in

Sochi.

“I would like to compete. I would like to skate in 2014 in

Sochi,” he said. “I’m going to try. I’m really going to

try.”

Plushenko won the silver medal in Vancouver, runner-up to

American Evan Lysacek. He also won a gold medal in Turin in 2006

and a silver in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Among the other ambassadors for Sochi are hockey players Sergei

Fedorov and Alex Ovechkin.

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Barry Wilner, Will Graves and

Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.