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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Olympics, mostly talkin' 'bout Bode


And the cool thing is, that I'll even find myself rooting for skiers and competitors of other countries. Take, for example, Kostilek, from Croatia...a girl who grew up in a war-torn country to find "home" on the World Cup circuit, as did her brother who is also competing in Torino. She just took Gold on the women's Downhill Combined. You GO Girl!

What strikes me about her is her humility. Humble roots, trained non-traditionally, and accepting her fame as she has accepted every other challenge of her something God gave her and darn it, she's going to get through it all with the same stoicism God gave her. God bless her and her family. I know that Croatia is a Catholic country, but I haven't heard from the media whether she is Catholic. Not a surprise.

I think she's my hero, right along with Picabo Street. I want the humility of Kostilek along with the ferocity of Street.

I actually have the speed and finesse of a turtle, but that's beside the point.

Now on to men's Alpine. Did you see the Super-G tonight? Bode Miller is...well, an enigma. I can't say I condone a lot of what he does and says, yet, in some ways, he is worthy of hero status.

He is a non-conformist. He is out for fun, and just the other day he commented about how the "desire for a medal" is being projected upon him by others. He said he doesn't care whether he wins one or not. He likes his privacy, although quite honestly, his exertions in the bars after races does not lead to much of a private life.

But I do agree with him. Tonight they showed a clip where he was discussing how the constant pressure to exceed and succeed at the higest levels gives young athletes the idea if they can't win they shouldn't even try.

I heartily agree. I'm amazed at the pressure kids have to win at sports, whereas when I grew up it was all about sportsmanship. Sure, winning was great and the whole point of a game was to win the game...but it was ok not to win. That just meant that there was an unmet challenge, and sports were about learning how to overcome while still enjoying the event.

Back to Bode. That man has TALENT! Four years ago I stood in front of a big screet TV at a trade show, watching how Bode fell back on his tails during the slalom portion of the Downhill Combined, regained his balance and finished. I don't remember his result and it doesn't matter. It was an Olympic moment and I doubt that many other skiers could have pulled off that move.

He repeated it again tonight, this time in the Super-G. He was rocking right along until he got into the soft snow, nearly fell, and it appeared we were about to witness a catastrophic crash.

But no, this was Bode Miller.

Bode got his right ski under him and fought to regain control of his left. It was like a figure skater, skiing with one leg extended behind, an acrobatic dance with an out of control ski in the place of a skate blade.

Back and forth, the tip and tail of the left ski hit the ground, torquing and amazing all that it did not simply fly off. Bode seemed to wait it out and then extended his left leg even further, and with great control brought his left leg around, bringing the ski parallel, and back down to where it belonged.

This kind of thing would have killed most people, or at the very best, would have caused broken bones and torn ligaments and much surgery for months to come.

But we're talkin' about Bode.

He defies the odds, and should we really be surprised? After all, he's finished other races on one ski, as in a World Cup event only weeks ago. Incidentally, about 6 years ago or so I saw Dahron Rahlves fall a few times and then finish the Birst of Prey Downhill at Beaver Creek, CO, finish a race on one ski. I think they do it for the World Cup points gained by finishing. Even a bad time is a qualifying time, wheras a DNF is useless.

I now look forward to a miracle with Kristina Koznik and Lindsey Kildow.

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