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Tiger apologizes, and Olympic flame still burns

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — There was a pardon-the-interruption moment at the Olympics: Tiger Woods was apologizing.

Fans and athletes briefly turned their attention to the golfing great Friday, then returned to more pressing matters.

Like curling.

Bob and Sharon Burke of Alamo, Calif., had front-row seats for the women's match between the United States and Russia at the Vancouver Olympic Center.

"I'm less concerned with Tiger Woods as I am finding somebody to explain the rules of curling to me," Bob Burke said.

Another visitor, Blair James of Calgary, Alberta, perhaps spoke for many when asked about Woods' conciliatory remarks.

"Whatever," she said.

Woods made his apology from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., with millions worldwide watching on television. In Vancouver, Woods spoke at 8 a.m., before the day's competition began. Some athletes were sympathetic, albeit cautiously.

Snowboarder Shaun White, who won his second straight gold medal in the halfpipe this week, said he respected how Woods tried to "pick his words very carefully and apologize."

"I don't think it takes away from his athletic side in the slightest. I'm a big fan of his," White said. "Pretty soon we'll realize he's a pretty good guy deep down and he made some bad calls."

Figure skater Evan Lysacek, who won a gold medal the night before, said he saw part of Woods' comments but thought it was a teaching moment on how to handle one's self.

"Tiger, on the golf course, has always been a positive role model and I think he will continue to be," Lysacek said.

Alpine skier Julia Mancuso was plenty dubious. She posted on Twitter: "do we think this is coming from the heart or the paper! come on Tiger! give us some reality here."

The two-time silver medalist at the games was in a more forgiving mood later: "thanks tiger," she tweeted. "sweet hugs to your fam, can't wait to see you back out there!! Good Luck!!"

Peter Forsberg of the Swedish Olympic hockey team said the story was big in Sweden because wife Elin Woods is from there.

"I think it's a hard situation," Forsberg said, throwing up his gloved hands. "I don't think there is a good way to handle that. I don't know what I would do if something like that happened to me."

There is the possibility that Woods could join the Olympic ranks. Golf will return as an Olympic sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

On Whistler Mountain, where the Alpine events are held, the Brasserie Des Artistes had Woods on television briefly before switching to the Olympics.

"We're like, well, the Olympics are on so we'll watch that," bartender Aaron Peart said.

Canada's CTV network, which is broadcasting the games, drew criticism on the Internet. It broke away from its "Olympic Morning" show leading to the day's events to air Woods' statement.

Rick Chisholm, executive vice president of broadcasting for Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, said the story was of great interest across Canada.

"There were no Olympic Games events taking place at the time of the Woods press conference, and therefore 'Olympic Morning' was an appropriate platform to air the coverage," Chisholm said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Celine Derrick and her husband, Bruce, are from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. They caught Woods before visiting the Olympic Flame on Vancouver's waterfront.

"I think it's the wrong time for him to do it. It's the Olympics, couldn't he wait?" Celine Derrick said. "It's like he was stealing the spotlight."

Her husband disagreed, saying it was "about time" Woods came out and said something. But he questioned the staging.

"I didn't like the setup. He was in control," Bruce Derrick said. "So I thought that was kind of insincere."

Ryan Wick of Vancouver, also taking in the Olympic flame, didn't watch. Priming for Olympic hockey was more important.

"I'll read it or see it when I get around to it," he shrugged.

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Associated Press Writers Janie McCauley, Eddie Pells, Nancy Armour and Joji Sakurai contributed to this report.