Torino Games aren’t where dreams are made for Kildow
SAN SICARIO, Italy – Lindsey Kildow has reached the conclusion that her destiny does not await her within the Italian Alps.
The 21-year-old former Ski Club Vail racer finished seventh in Monday’s Olympic super-G with a time of one minute, 33.42 seconds ” nearly a second slower than winner Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria (1:32.47), who, after her downhill victory last week, will retire with two Olympic gold medals.
Janica Kostelic of Croatia (1:32.74) also earned her second medal of the Games with a silver to add to her combined gold, while Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer (1:33.06) snuck in for the bronze.
Two weeks ago, Kildow had envisioned a modest collection of medals herself by now, but feels she is hampered by a back injury sustained in a crash two days before her first Olympic event last Wednesday.
“I thought I had a really good run,” she said of the super-G race. “I don’t know what I could have done differently. Maybe if I was healthy, it would be a different story.”
Kildow’s seventh was the best result of Americans in the field, with Julia Mancuso coming in 11th, Kirsten Clark 14th and Libby Ludlow 27th.
Many athletes complained about how, unlike last week’s downhill, the super-G course was flat, non-technical and well … just too easy.
“There’s really no technical sections where you can set yourself apart from the other athletes,” Kildow said. “I was giving it everything I had. A couple people mentioned maybe I wasn’t getting as low as I normally do in my tuck. Maybe subconsciously the pain is affecting me.”
Kildow was not limping as badly Monday as she was following a fall that ended her combined slalom run on Friday. She said her pain is caused by a build up of fluid in her back, adding that it might become necessary to “stick a needle in and get all of that crap out.”
The 2006 Olympics aren’t over yet for Kildow. She is the only woman on the U.S. Team skiing in all five events and has Wednesday’s slalom and Friday’s giant slalom yet to come.
Still, she prides herself on her speed skiing, and her results in the technical disciplines this season have not measured up – a sixth place has been her best finish in slalom, and a 24th in GS. That’s not to mention how much more strain her body endures in these events – throwing it so rapidly from side to side between gates.
“My back really hurts doing slalom,” she said. “It’s a long shot, but maybe I could do something.”
Kildow’s hope extends to her whole team. After seven events and just three remaining, as a whole, the U.S. Team has its work cut out for it to increase its lonely medal count of just one.
“It’s not the best, but not for lack of effort,” she said of the U.S. Team’s performance. “I know everyone’s trying their hardest. It’s hard because you know your teammates can do it and you can do it, but it’s just not there.”
Since her injury, Kildow’s bedtime mantra isn’t much different than it was before. Right before she goes to sleep every night, she mulls through some self talk.
“How can I do this? How can I make it work? How can I win?” Kildow asks herself. “When I’m sleeping, I’m thinking about the course, about how I can ski my best.”
During the day, her routine has changed significantly.
“Today I woke up at 7:30,” She said. “I took a shower and took like 10 minutes to warm up my back. I move around, do some electric stimulation and some light tissue massage. Then I spin on the bike and loosen everything up again and stretch. I tape my back and put some heat on it. I do that three times a day. So, it’s not like I’m not trying.”
Kildow still managed to smile after Monday’s super-G, and while she still has the slalom and GS, she’s already thinking about the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.
“I love Whistler,” she said of the venue for the 2010 alpine skiing events. “I had a lot of success there when I was a little kid. I’m just hoping by the next Olympics, I’ll be healthy.
And a little more lucky. And be on the podium like I know I can be.”
Not only have things not gone well for Kildow’s racing experience in Italy, but she said the food in the Olympic Village is less than what one expects from Italy, and the passion for which the Italians are known hasn’t made much of an appearance at the alpine ski events.
Passion lives where?
“You don’t really see the Italian public coming out,” she said. “It’s mellow. There’s not really the hype you see in the Olympics. I just don’t feel the energy that usually comes with it. Obviously, I think maybe if I was doing better, I would feel better. But it’s disappointing. You want that excitement.”
All in all, the Torino Games have simply fallen short of Kildow’s certainty that something phenomenal would come her way here.
“I thought my destiny was going to be here,” she said. “But apparently, this wasn’t my place. Maybe North America is my time to shine.”
Shine can come from more sources than medals. Kildow did say that her character has benefited from her experience here.
“It’s just proving to myself that I can do it, proving that I can have courage in myself and believe in myself even though things aren’t going my way,” she said. “I can still get up there and do it. It’s encouraging for sure. But at the end of the day, when you don’t have the results you dreamed for your whole life, it’s a little disappointing.”