CALGARY, FEB. 22 -- It began, as so many good things do in the Virgin Islands, at a cocktail party. It ended with a father and a son from Cabin John finishing 35th in the two-man bobsled competition as part of the Virgin Islands' Winter Olympics team.

"We have a sled with wheels; we push it on the road next to the beach to practice starts -- it looks sort of like a bed, actually," said Harvey Hook, who at 52 was being touted as the oldest Olympian here -- a builder and yacht broker who moved from Maryland to St. Thomas eight years ago.

"I'm too old to be doing this," he said. Indeed, his sprinting style at the starts was a sturdy one, and he leaped into his sled with the deliberateness of a man climbing into a hot bath.

Ordinarily, his brakeman in the sled is Christopher Sharpless, originally of Delaware, but today his son David, 27, a television ad salesman, rode behind him to claim victories over two Mexican sleds and the other Virgin Islands sled, which placed them third in the six-sled Caribbean conference behind Jamaica and Netherlands Antilles.

"You made it," said a Netherlands Antilles bobsledder when it was all over and the Russians had won the gold medal. He handed Hook a bottle of champagne to slug from while Hook's three partners stood near the bobsled course in the setting sun and sold their sleds to a Calgary bobsled team.

"I want to keep going," Hook said. "It's something I'm good at, but my partners, they've been to the Olympics and now it's over for them." He posed for pictures next to one of the sleds, black with palm trees painted on the back.

"The U.S. team spent $800,000 developing a sled, and we spent $10,000 apiece -- and our sled was faster. They ended up buying one from the same guy who built ours, in Italy."

Hook spent $20,000 on the whole effort, and his partners spent another $20,000.

They did not bring a four-man sled.

"Everybody wanted to drive, so we had to have two-man teams," said Kathy Sharpless, originally from Towson.

"They have such sma-a-a-ll egos," said Joan Nelson Hook, also of Cabin John, and like her husband a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

"It started at a cocktail party at Peggy Wilcox's house in St. Thomas," said Sharpless. "My husband is a race car driver, and John Foster {another team member} said to him, 'Have you ever driven a bobsled?' "

"Cocktail parties are the hub of existence in St. Thomas," said Joan Hook.

"Then they all went off to Lake Placid to bobsled school," said Sharpless, who, asked whether it seemed insane, said, "Well, of course."

There was a little grumbling during the Olympics about the frivolity of the Caribbean entries and others, such as Portugal and Prince Albert of Monaco, most notably from Wolfgang Hoppe, the East German silver medal bobsledder.

"If I had a choice I'd like not to have Hoppe -- it would be easier for us," said Hook. "Hoppe is very serious."

Then again, so was Hook, a stonemason's son who also races yachts, and used to sky-dive and play rugby in Washington. "This is not a one-shot deal. David can go to the Olympics in 1992."

A dynasty! The first family of both Maryland and Virgin Islands bobsledding! But by then, the sleds were headed to a new home in Canada, palm trees and all.