2002: Aspen’s Klug is bronzed
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society.Aspen’s Klug is bronzedPARK CITY, Utah – Racing imitates life for Aspen snowboarder Chris Klug. In a roller-coaster ride of a race Friday, Klug rebounded from a setback in the semi-finals to capture the bronze medal in the men’s Olympic parallel giant slalom at Park City Mountain Resort.The Comeback Kid’s latest triumph came a year-and-a-half after he received a lifesaving liver transplant, and a day after National Organ Donor Awareness Day.”It’s a miracle and a dream come true,” said Klug, who set a goal to reach the Olympic podium in Salt Lake after settling for sixth place in 1998 at Nagano, Japan.”What else can you ask for? A year-and-a-half ago, we’re lying on our backs thinking we weren’t going to live and here we are now with a bronze medal around our necks, I still can’t believe it.”But Klug’s family and friends weren’t as shocked. The Klug clan, a contingent of 50-plus family and friends (and doctors), staked out in the finish area all day, waving oversized blue-foam fingers inscribed with “Team U.S.A. Chris Klug.” Extremely excited, yes, but not surprised.”He’s always had to overcome challenges since he was born, health-wise, so we’re not surprised at all,” said Jim Klug, Chris’ older brother. “Whatever it takes, he’s going to do it. That’s the story of his life.”As the only American in the field, fans in the base area rallied around him all day. And when Klug clinched the hardware, the place erupted. “They were really supportive and it made a huge difference for me.”This could be my biggest comeback yet. Yeah, it may just be,” Klug acknowledged. “But I may have another one in me. We’ll see. I’d like to come back in four years and upgrade my medal.”On Friday night, Klug wore his medal to bed, all 15 minutes worth, as a party for him at the U.S.A. House in Park City ran all night.”Everyone’s lost their voices,” he said. “It’s hysterical. It’s all sign language around here.””The way today’s events went are a good example of Chris,” noted Aspen Club trainer Bill Fabrocini, who helped him rehab from knee surgery, then the transplant operation. “And the bronze medal is more meaningful than the gold because he had to fight for it.”He was up and down and he had to keep fighting,” continued Fabrocini, who was in the crowd Friday. “It’s the same thing with his knee rehab. At the time, we didn’t know how far back he could come. And before the liver transplant, we didn’t know what to expect, either. But he kept fighting and believing, and when he didn’t believe enough, [long-time girlfriend] Missy April believed for him and his friends believed for him, and it’s just like today when he was down.”We all knew he was going to do it.”
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