Kildow, in pain, can’t finish combined |

Kildow, in pain, can’t finish combined

Shauna Farnell
Associated PressLindsey Kildow of Vail reaches the finish area of the Women's Combined Slalom at the Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy, Friday. Kildow crashed and did not finish the second run.

Lindsey Kildow grimaced with every turn around each gate in the Olympic combined slalom event on Friday. There was no question that she was suffering.

Kildow, gritting her teeth as she crossed the finish line, was in 11th place after her first slalom run. She started her second run and was going strong. Her splits dropped into 0s, and suddenly she was in the lead. We’re talking about a girl who was airlifted to the hospital after a crash in downhill training on Monday, went onto race in the Olympic downhill on Wednesday and took eighth place, and pointed out afterwards that the combined event would be challenging for her “because slalom is hard enough even when you’re not in this much pain.”

Then, as Kildow was more than halfway down the course, her skis flew out from under her on a right turn, and she went down in a cloud of snow. Eyebrows furrowed, she tried to stand up, then sat back down on the snow again.

Apparently, not finishing a race is the only thing that will force Kildow to take a day off.

She limped past the media corral with her head bowed, clearly not wanting to talk to anyone.

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As she walked away, someone asked her what hurt the most and she said, “My back. I’m in a lot of pain.”

After the slalom race Friday night, as I was weaving through the crowds on the way back to the media center in Sestriere, I took the less-traveled path and ended up walking directly behind Kildow.

She was hobbling slowly, using both of her ski poles and still wearing her helmet. A part of me leapt at this rare opportunity for an exclusive interview with the girl that everyone wanted to talk to.

A bigger part of me just wanted to let her be.

I’m usually not one to gush, but as I stepped up next to Kildow I looked at her and said, “Hey Lindsey. You’re an inspiration.”

Both she and her boyfriend, former ski racer Thomas Vonn, replied with a “Thanks.”

“I really hope you feel better,” I said.

“Thanks,” said Lindsey, trying to smile. “I really appreciate it.”

Kildow is out for Saturday’s downhill conclusion of the combined event, postponed from Friday’s bad weather cancellation, but one can pretty well guess that if she can walk, even at a hobble, we’ll see her in Sunday’s super-G.

“She’s probably a little sore right now,” said Kildow’s U.S. teammate, Kaylin Richardson, who was tied for 15th place after Friday’s slalom race and could pass as Kildow’s sister. “I don’t think she’d be racing if she didn’t think she was in a position to medal. She’s probably going to take a day off (on Saturday). Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. She’s an amazing athlete. I’m sure she’ll come out and really bring it in the super-G.”

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