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February 9, 2002, Saturday
Section: SPT; SPORTS
Edition: METRO FINAL
Page: 3
Memo: DAY 1; SALT LAKE 2002 WINTER OLYMPICS; THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE
              The XIX Olympic Games, February 8th through February 24, 2002
FAMILIES' RED, WHITE AND BLUE DREAM TRIP COMES TRUE
DAN SHINE FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

It had the makings of an Olympic event.

Recently, the Quinn and Dziuba families -- four adults and five boys -- piled into a Lincoln Navigator to check it for suitable leg and elbow room. Seat belts were clicked and the harmony of the seating arrangements were gauged -- though Mikey Dziuba, 9, later requested a seat next to his mother.

The proper fit of the two Grosse Pointe Park families into the sport utility vehicle is crucial because they will be carpooling to various Olympic venues in and around Salt Lake City next week. For curling, they'll go to Ogden, for skiing to Park City and they'll stay in Salt Lake City for figure skating and ice hockey.

"Most of us come from big families, so we're used to high-density travel," said Beth Quinn, 46, a part-time public relations specialist.

From the decision by the two families to go to this year's Winter Olympics down to the details of travel, this was not a spur-of-the-moment thing. Beth's husband, Tom Quinn, 47, a management consultant, said he's never planned more for a trip.

The Olympic odyssey for the families began about 18 months ago. The Quinns and Dziubas had imagined attending previous Olympics in the United States but didn't. Separately, they began thinking about going to the Salt Lake Games. At one of their occasional get-togethers, the subject was broached.

They were thrilled to discover that each had the same Olympic dream.

"When we decided that we really wanted to go, we thought it'd be fun to go with friends," Beth Quinn said.

Jim & Mary Dziuba and family

The Quinn boys -- Tommy, 12, and Will, 9 -- and the Dziuba boys -- Mikey, Adam, 13, and Matt, 12 -- are fast friends. As a result, their parents have become close, sometimes traveling to northern Michigan together in the summer. There was little hesitation about spending a week together.

Mary Dziuba, who works at her husband's medical practice, said the families survived a hairy canoe trip in northwestern Lower Peninsula a while back, "and we figured if we can survive that we can survive anything."

Leading up to the October 2000 date when Olympic tickets could be ordered, the families had meetings to discuss events they wanted to see. The face value of tickets at Salt Lake City range from $20 for a obstructed view of curling to more than $800 for the Opening or Closing Ceremonies, which the families quickly ruled out.

Generally, tickets range from $75-$300. Many of the most popular events -- figure skating, men's ice hockey, snowboarding -- are sold out.

The Quinns and Dziubas agreed on a ticket package that included super-G skiing, a hockey game between Sweden and the Czech Republic, ski jumping finals, ice dancing finals, cross-country skiing finals and a medal ceremony on Feb. 17. The pop music group Train will perform after the ceremony. The families recently added curling.

They'll spend a little more than $1,000 per person for the events.

Though satisfied with the mix, Adam would like to see bobsledding or skeleton -- a luge-like event. Both are high-demand tickets. Matt would have preferred to see the U.S. men's hockey team -- another tough, expensive ticket.

Finding a place to stay was a long process. The families thought they had a home rented in Salt Lake City but the owner significantly increased the price and also wanted basement access. They declined and started scouring Web sites for other accommodations.

They found a three-bedroom condominium with two master suites in Park City for $600 a night. They plan to get in a little skiing of their own while there."It was a big jump up for a four-bedroom," Beth Quinn said. "We won't be spending a lot of time in the condominium."

While there was a general consensus on events and lodging, the families couldn't agree on how to get to Salt Lake City.

The Quinns are flying out on Thursday and the Dziubas will drive the Navigator -- leaving Grosse Pointe on Tuesday evening. They will rendezvous in Salt Lake City on Friday.

The Dziubas said they have taken several family car trips out West and to Florida, usually driving straight through. On this trip, they will drive straight to Laramie, Wyo. -- about 21 hours. They will rest the night and push on to Park City -- another 6-7 hours.

"I think the weather should be OK and there shouldn't be much traffic, so I'm expecting to make great time," said Ken Dziuba, 50.

They will haul all the ski gear out to Park City and some other luggage. The kids will have video games, a small television for movies -- and maybe a little homework -- to keep them occupied. The boys' mid-winter school break is during part of their Olympic trip but because they will miss a few days of classes some assignments will be done on the road trip.

The Dziubas have a small global positioning satellite unit to keep them from getting lost. Ken Dziuba said he has been practicing with the device, using it to help him get out of the Palace parking lot after a recent concert.

The past few months have been a flurry of final details. Buying nine American flags, nine blankets and nine knit caps for the group, a few pair of binoculars and a set of walkie-talkies. Finding a place to board the three dogs and packing suitcases. And scanning the Internet for updates on security at the Games and maps to venues.

The excitement level has increased since the event tickets arrived. And even though the Quinns and Dziubas consider this a once-in-a-lifetime trip, in the back of their minds they are thinking about doing it again.

"I think it will be full of great memories," Tom Quinn said.

Contact DAN SHINE at 313-223-4554 or dshine@freepress.com


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