More talent on the course than meets the eye |

More talent on the course than meets the eye

Shauna Farnell

As I was walking to the downhill training finish area today in Sestriere, a couple of the course slippers, wearing the same kind of exclamation-point vests that 3-year-olds wear on the mountains back home, but with “slipper” written on them, passed in front of me on their way to the chairlift.

The path of snow on the ground to reach the chairlift barely exceeded the width of two skis, and it crossed a muddy canal. One of the slippers got low and hucked an impressive 180 over the canal of mud.

Talent is everywhere around here.

So is second-hand smoke.

Really, you walk through a cloud of smoke wherever you go. You’d think the 80 mph gusts of wind we’ve had intermittently since last night would extinguish a few …

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It was great to see some athletes in action today. It took 20 minutes to get through security to get to the finish area, even though there were only about 24 of us. I predict that somebody’s going to miss something on race day and won’t be very happy … But maybe a few more security check points will spring up between now and then. Although there aren’t any more toilets. However, a few of the original ones have seats now.

Yes, it’s necessary to reserve more time than one would think to get where you want to go at the Torino Winter Games. I was very pleased to discover an alternate route between Sestriere Borgata (where the men’s downhill and super-G take place) and Sestriere Colle (venue for all alpine skiing technical events). The obvious method between the two is taking a bus (and waiting for one surrounded by 12 chain smokers) down a slow, windy road. I noticed a chairlift running between the two, and on the way back to Colle from DH training Thursday, I was pleased to have accrued enough Italian to ask the lift operator if I could ride it, and he happily consented. So, there I was, all alone drifting over the Olympic fencing and scanning the Alpen panorama while a pack of people waited for a bus.

It’s amazing how popular American Olympians are in other countries. I had dinner with three Dutch journalists last night, and they were surprised to hear that you could ask the average man on the street in Arkansas to tell you something about Daron Rahlves, and he or she would be sure to reply, “Who?”

Without tarnishing my journalist’s sense of objectivity, I can’t help be pumped up by Rahlves’ finish today. Go “D!”

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