Vive la France
Today’s downhill outcome absolutely proved that any one of about 30 racers could win an Olympic alpine ski race. I really thought Daron Rahlves or Bode was going to do it today.
The Olympic downhill was certainly a spectacle. I was no longer the only person walking to the venue under the chairlift between Sestriere Colle and Sestriere Borgata. Hundreds of spectators and media were also making their way to the race stadium, and swarms, absolutely swarms of people, could be seen standing alongside the road above that connects the two base areas. While the Americans didn’t do it, it was phenomenal to watch Deneriaz start in 30th position, gain speed on each split, then glance casually over his shoulder after crossing the finish line, and freak out at the realization that he had just won an Olympic gold medal. Then, two hours after the race as I was heading back on the chair lift, a pack of French spectators were swaying along in a cluster waving their flags, singing at the top of their lungs.
While dozens of journalists cranked away on their downhill stories at the tiny press center in Borgata, I watched men’s halfpipe live on TV. Shaun White is not one to let a victory go to his head. While his victory lap was one of many he’s had in this undefeated season, he was, like the rest, overwhelmed with jubilation at winning.
I really have to wonder about the subjectivity of the judging in some of these events. I definitely think White deserved gold, but I have to say that Mason Aguirre’s run looked more impressive than Danny Kass’s. Also, I was blown away with the women’s moguls results. Shannon Bahrke from Reno, Nev., was the only competitor to pull a D-Spin and a back flip in her run, but was shifted to 10th place, while France’s Sandra Laoura, who not only did the same jump combo as half the field (720 helicopter and back flip), landed completely in the back seat after her second jump. Oh well, such is judging.
I think Gretchen Bleiler might do something spectacular for us in the pipe on Monday.