CALGARY, FEB. 25 -- Jim McKay knows everyone is saying this will be his last Olympics. ABC doesn't have the rights to the Seoul Summer Games, and McKay surely has the right to sit back and watch from the sidelines after 10 Olympics and a zillion miles in pursuit of Acapulco cliff divers, hot dog skiers and Sumo wrestlers.

But don't tell that to McKay. He's just signed a new multiyear contract with the network and, at age 66, says quite firmly, "I still love what I'm doing. As long as that continues, I'll keep going.

"I would have thought Los Angeles would be my last Olympics," he said in a 30-minute interview the other day at ABC's Calgary headquarters. "I just have to wait and see. I can tell you I'm delighted I did this. I don't think I've ever enjoyed an Olympics more than this one."

He has heard the criticism of ABC's coverage -- cutting away from crucial hockey games to show skiing, missing goals in two big U.S. team games, the incessant hype in network promos -- and he can only shrug his shoulders. "The hockey people are the most vocal," McKay said, "yet every time we have hockey, the ratings go down, including the third period of the U.S. game against the Russians. You just try to please as large an audience as you can."

McKay has been pleasing audiences ever since he left the Baltimore Sun newspaper to join a new television station in Baltimore in 1947. Three years later, he moved to New York to work for CBS, then joined ABC in 1961, where he hosted the first Wide World of Sports, a show he's done ever since, along with almost every major event on the network's schedule.

He's been doing this so long, critics and ratings don't mean all that much to him. "I'm one of those people who thinks ratings are a bunch of baloney," he said. "I guess I only pay attention every four years at the Olympics."

McKay doesn't have much time to concern himself with that sort of thing. He arrives at ABC's headquarters every day at about noon, and spends a good part of his afternoon writing his own material for his opening at 8 p.m. and the features that will run during the three-hour broadcast.

Despite long days and longer nights in the studio, he has always made it look easy. So what if he stumbles over a word now and then or gushes a bit over an outstanding performance. He's a gushy sort of fellow off camera, too, and his friends will tell you he genuinely loves what he's doing.

He was not exactly thrilled about Sarajevo when a four-day blizzard wiped out events and left McKay and his colleagues scrambling to fill four and five hours a day with hardly any events. He is also not particularly upset about not having the chance to do the 1988 Summer Games, whose rights belong to NBC.

"That's going to be bad, and I'm not just saying it because we're not going to do it," McKay said. "It's a Sarajevo with more events -- a 13-hour time difference when they'll be doing a lot of tape. You always prefer to go live in this business. I know what they're facing."

McKay is facing a future that includes lots of coverage of golf and horse racing for the network, including a Kentucky Derby that might even include a horse owned by him and his wife Margaret.

Sean's Ferrari, a 17-to-1 shot, won the 2-year-old colts race in the Maryland Million at Pimlico last fall, beating a 2-to-5 favorite with a great stretch run.

"That was one of the great days of my life," said McKay, who lives on a farm in Monkton, Md. After all, it was McKay who originated the concept of the Million, then convinced Maryland racing authorities to take the plunge.

But these days, there are other thrills. "Figure skating is not my favorite sport, but this competition has been fabulous at these Games," said McKay. "And Bonnie Blair was a wonderful story. You know she came into the studio to do the late night show with Frank and Kathie Lee {Gifford} and she was getting her hair done before she went on. I told her, 'You won the gold medal two hours ago and already you've got your own hairdresser.'

"But she's the kind of story you love to tell. Before the event, you're talking to an audience who never heard of her or the East German girl Christa Rothenburger. Now, people think they know her. She's the new Mary Lou Retton, and a week ago, the vast majority of people never heard of her.

"That's something I really enjoy. And I enjoy being the storyteller, linking everything together. It's my job to pick up a thread and draw it out. I think it's what I do best."