Turin 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 in the Italian Alps.
The 21-year-old former Ski Club Vail racer finished seventh in Monday’s super G with a time of 1 minute, 33.42 seconds ” nearly a second slower than winner Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria (1:32.47), who will retire with two Olympic gold medals.
Janica Kostelic of Croatia (1:32.74) also earned her second medal, a silver to add to her combined gold. 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 the back injury she sustained in a crash during training has hampered her.
“I thought I had a really good run,” she said of the super G. “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 American result. Julia Mancuso finished 11th, Kirsten Clark 14th and Libby Ludlow 27th.
Many athletes complained that the super G course was flat, nontechnical and 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 after a fall that ended her combined slalom run on Friday. She said a buildup of fluid in her back is causing the pain.
The 2006 Olympics aren’t over yet for Kildow. She is the only woman on the U.S. team skiing in all five disciplines 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 ” 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, the U.S. team has just one medal.
“It’s not the best, but not for lack of effort,” she said. “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.
“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, British Columbia.
“I love Whistler,” she said. “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.”
All in all, the Torino Games have 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.”
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.”
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.