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Cold? Not for these athletes

Ian CroppVail CO, Colorado

Before I delve into the wintry world, let me start by saying how proud I am that we honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.I think everyone in this country should be thankful for King’s dedication to equality. If you didn’t take some time Monday to commemorate King and all those who have been dedicated to his cause, feel free to do so now.• In the spirit of cooling a cryogenically frozen horse, I give you this revelation: It was frigid this past week.For those of you who braved it on the slopes, I respect your valor.For those of you who stayed inside and lived off last week’s memories, I applaud your decision-making. But as your own personal winter world may have been put on hold, there was plenty happening on the snow:• So he finally did it. Bode Miller finished five slalom races in a row. Oh, that other thing, too. With his combined win in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Miller passed Phil Mahre for the most World Cup victories by an American racer. After placing second in the downhill, Miller came back with a strong slalom showing the next day to pick up his 28th victory. If there were any doubters about “Team America” – an independent racing team of Miller’s coaches, trainers and others, they are certainly believers now. And if you were too caught up in his record-breaking, Miller is only 29 points out of the overall lead.Miller is undoubtedly one of the best skiers ever. He can win in all five disciplines. He can complete nearly an entire downhill on one ski. Heck, he may be one of the best American athletes if you think about it. Not many American skiers instill fear into the Austrians.• Speaking of those who scare Austrians, Lindsey Vonn continues to leave her downhill opponents in the dust. With her Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, downhill win Saturday, Vonn further demoralized the competition; she’s got three wins, a second-place and a fourth-place finish in five races. At 23, Vonn has 11 career wins, eight of which have come in downhill. If she keeps this up, she’ll join the ranks of downhill legends in a few years. Oh, and those early super-G problems she had this year, yeah, those were remedied Sunday and Monday when she took fifth and fourth.Vonn trails Austria’s Nicole Hosp by 26 points in the overall. And guess which country has two skiers in the top four? That’s right, the U.S. of A. Julia Mancuso, who was second in Sunday’s super-G and sixth on Monday, is 34 points behind Maria Riesch of Germany. OK, so there are Austrian skiers in fifth (Marlies Schild), seventh (Elisabeth Goergl) and 10th (Renate Goetschl), but the U.S. did win the Cortina super trophy – given to the team with the best overall performance in Cortina – for the third year in a row.Before I depart from the World Cup, I’d like to wish Scott Macartney a quick recovery. Macartney suffered a brutal crash in Kitzbuehel during his downhill run, leaving him with a brain contusion.• Congrats to Chris DelBosco. The Vail ski cross athlete who competes with the Canadian Olympic Team took fifth in a World Cup last week. The past few years, on a the mom-and-pop sponsorship, DelBosco had been one of the up-and-coming racers. Now, with a full operation behind his back, DelBosco seems to be emerging as a constant threat. Keep your eyes on the 2010 Games, man.• The Winter X Games are upon us yet again. Events begin Thursday and run through Sunday, with the men’s halfpipe closing things out. For a reporter, the X Games are a mixed bag. The throngs of drunken teenagers crowding by a halfpipe isn’t as glorious as it sounds. Watching the athletes land video-game-like tricks in person is pretty awesome, though. Check back later this week to see how the local competitors are feeling about their chances this time around. • While there really are too many to name, the local skiers and snowboarders have been tearing it up week-after-week. If you’ve got a chance to stop by Beaver Creek for some speed races this week (a super-G today and Wednesday and downhills Saturday and Sunday), it’s worth your while.• Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, it’s snowing again.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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