It’s that time again: The Olympic Winter Games of 2002 begin this month in Salt Lake City. Longtime American Way writer Ken McAlpine put together a primer on all things Olympic to help you make your way through the events. From couch-potato sports stats to tips on last-minute hotel reservations, you’ll love Ken’s research in “Let The Games Begin”.

It surprised me to learn that tickets and rooms might still be available; I’d figured those both sold out years ago. It’s tempting to hop on a plane and head to Utah, especially since officials say there’s still plenty of room for vacationers on the ski slopes. I’ve skied many places, and Park City and Deer Valley top the list. For a novice, the runs were perfectly groomed, the amenities were upscale and thoughtful — it was the first place I’d seen tissue dispensers at the lift lines — and the food on the mountain was phenomenal. Though my friends and I still scratch our heads at the obstacle course we had to maneuver just to order a beer — Utah has strict laws on serving and purchasing liquor — that quirkiness adds to Utah’s charm and made for fun vacation memories. And we managed to toast our success on the slopes just fine.

Elsewhere in the magazine, don’t miss our Travel feature on vacations in St. Andrews, Scotland. Though the birthplace of golf has long been a required pilgrimage for serious golfers, apparently it didn’t have much to offer beyond the awe-inspiring Old Course. (Our publisher, Terrie Lonergan, would concur: A few years ago, she traveled there with her family for her father’s birthday and though the men were in heaven paying homage on the course, Terrie and her mother, both nongolfers, found themselves reading and napping a lot.)

That’s changed now, with the addition of new courses, hotel resorts, spas, and gourmet restaurants. (Maybe the guys can convince Terrie and her mom to return after all.) Golf writer Larry Olmsted says there is no better place to spend a week playing golf.

You’ll find more golf news in 3 Bottles, in which Anthony Dias Blue takes a look at the wine efforts of golf pros Greg Norman and David Frost, as well as Callaway Winery (yes, that Callaway).

As always, there’s much more. Let us know what you think.

Elaine Srnka