Kildow’s excellent Olympic adventure
Vail’s Lindsey Kildow shocked the nation last February when she finished sixth in the women’s combined at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but she didn’t shock herself.”It doesn’t really seem unreal,” Kildow, 18, says of her wild ride in the combined, which tallies times in two slaloms and a downhill. “I was definitely very excited and happy that I put everything together, because I know I can ski that well all the time and I just hadn’t put the whole package together. That was really the first time.”What a time for a breakthrough. The Ski Club Vail product’s result was the best for an American woman in alpine ski racing at the 2002 Games. Seventeen at the time, Kildow was an overnight sensation, largely due to her aggressiveness in the downhill.”I have a lot of fun on the steeps,” says Kildow, fondly recalling her rocket ride on Snowbasin’s Wildflower run, which she calls the hardest downhill she’s done to date, with the biggest jump she’s ever taken in competition.That need for speed is driving her again this season as she eyes the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February, one of two Worlds she views as tune-ups between now and the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.All the regular-season World Cups leading up to St. Moritz, she says, are training for the big event at the World Championships, second in ski racing significance only to the Olympics.”I’m hoping to get a couple top 10’s and top 5’s and push my way up to have a good start position for World Championships. Not so much do well at the beginning of the season, but just progress so that I’m doing well when I get there (Worlds).”In fact, Kildow opted not to even try to qualify for the opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Oct. 26, but instead decided to test some speed-event skis and then rest up in her home state of Minnesota.”I really don’t like Soelden; it’s not my type of run,” says Kildow. “It made sense to me to get my speed skis dialed in for those races in Copper (training) and Aspen (women’s slalom and super-G World Cup over Thanksgiving weekend).Kildow, still a member of the B Team, will be in Colorado Nov. 5, first for training at Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek, then on to Super Series races in Loveland and Winter Park before Aspen.She says she’s feeling fit and ready to rock for short-term success, but also adds there is a definite long-term plan, one centered on more Olympic glory in Turin in 2006.”I’m definitely looking forward to it,” she says of the next shot at gold on the global stage. “It’s kind of like that long-term goal that I am building up to, and I’m using those two World Championships to get that experience in the big events, and I’m just looking to World Cups to get a name for myself, so that by the time I get to Turin everything will be perfect.”Besides the month of November and some downtime here in the summer with her fellow Ski Club alum Sarah Schleper, don’t look for Kildow in Vail too much the next few years. She says she won’t be in any one place for an extended period of time, as she chases her Olympic dreams at race and training venues around the world.Kildow says Schleper, who grew up in Vail and finished 22nd in Soelden Oct. 26, will keep her coming back to town once in awhile, if for no other reason to just hang out. Kildow looks at the older racer as more of a friend than a mentor.”It’s different because she’s a technical skier,” Kildow says of Schleper. “She’s more my buddy, and we just hang out. She definitely pushes me on the hill, and she’s good to have around, but I look to the speed skiers more as mentors and idols.”
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