September 18, 2000 12:00 PM

Gym Dandy

Gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi goes for the gold with a site for young tumblers

Bela Karolyi gets fairly excited when his gymnasts get the gold. But his new vault onto the Web has the longtime U.S. coach doing backflips. “I cannot be amazed enough,” he says of the technology, as he prepares to advise budding athletes at, launching Sept. 15. The ability to answer parents’ questions en masse “will be a huge time saver for me,” adds Karolyi, 57, who led 1996’s Magnificent Seven and is coordinator of this year’s squad. He teamed up with marketing giant 4Kids Entertainment to create the site, which will sport animated demonstrations of moves, a question-and-answer area, live chats with Karolyi and eventually a store selling Karolyi-designed togs. “I want to educate girls, their parents and their coaches, not just to give them encouragement but also concrete advice,” Karolyi says. For example, “how and when to start in the sport”–not before age 2, he advises–and “how to plan a good workout.” Not to mention a bit of inspiration, he says: “We’re giving these girls positive role models.”

My Favorite Sites

Martina Hingis

The No. 1 women’s seed at this month’s U.S. Open doesn’t neglect her Net game. On tour, Hingis, 19, e-mails pals and surfs America Online’s sports site (total “They have sally good tennis information,” says the Swiss court queen. “I like to id about all the other players, check cores and keep up with my friends on the [men’s] tour”–including Swedish boyfriend Magnus Norman. She also browses interior-design Web sites for tips on spiffing up her new house in Florida, “I don’t buy much online,” she admits. “I already do enough damage shopping as it is.”

Internet Manners

I know Web sites will be giving immediate results of Olympics events–often before the events air on TV in the U.S. If I check the Web, do I have to keep the news to myself so I don’t ruin the suspense for anyone? What if I can’t suppress the urge to celebrate?

This year’s Tape-Delayed Games could give new meaning to the word “spoilsport.” Those who favor immediate gratification should take a page from the Net’s movie buffs: If you’re going to spill any beans in an online conversation, preface your remarks with the phrase “spoiler alert”–and figure out a similar warning to use around the office watercooler. If you’re high-jumping with joy and can’t wait to share, seek out other clued-in Olympics fans (make sure to check first!) in chat rooms or Web message boards. Or cultivate some Aussie e-mail pals.

Click and Get it

For Sale: Everything but the Island

While Rich counts his winnings, others are milking money off Survivor paraphernalia on Sonja Christopher (right), the first Survivor casualty, auctioned the muddy Reeboks she wore on Pulau Tiga for $565 to benefit her church. Meanwhile, bids reached $152.50 for a leaf signed by Colleen Haskell, $820 for a photo signed by all 16 contestants and–inexplicably–$26 for a “Got Milk?” ad picturing the show’s final four torn out of a 50 cent newspaper.

A Vine Romance

Sex and the City‘s Kyle MacLachlan has been a grape nut since 1983, when his Dune director David Lynch gave him a bottle of red wine. Now MacLachlan, 41, boasts a 1,000-bottle stash–and hits the Web to slake his thirst for knowledge. Wine stores “can be a little nerve-racking,” he notes. But on the Web, “you can take all the time you want.” He heads to to read expert reviews, to find out bottles’ prices and availability and for news about vino from the Pacific Northwest, a passion the Yakima, Wash., native “can share with my dad,” he says. MacLachlan praises the Net for boosting small vineyards lacking a “publicity machine” but cautions: “Even though the wine sites give you a lot of information, you have to taste.”

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