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Racer Next: Gold mine

U.S. alpine Olympic women of 1988.

U.S. alpine Olympic women of 1988.

When people ask me about favorite memories from my ski racing career, the first thing that usually pops into my mind is the Opening Ceremony at the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games. It was my first time on such a grand stage. I was wide-eyed and overwhelmed, and despite the itchy wool skirt and sub-zero temperatures, thrilled beyond words. There is no doubt it was powerful, in every way.

But I get a twinge saying it, as if it’s just the easy answer, the one so obvious it requires no further explanation. And it feels like a bit of a cheap shot to the incredible athletes who, for whatever reason, did not make the Olympic team. I am talking about the athletes who are every bit as talented and hardworking as athletes who made the team, but had bad luck, bad breaks or just bad timing. I am talking about the ones whose stories you don’t hear until much later, if ever: certainly the second half of the Sarajevo 1984 team tragically and famously left home, most of whom quit the sport abruptly in frustration and disappointment; the unheralded athletes who, like Lindsey Vonn, gave up their rightful spots to make room for healthier up and comers and who, unlike Vonn, got no public recognition for their nobility; the Shiffrinesque wunderkinds who drove or got driven so hard so young that they were all burned out before their primes; the vibrantly independent Warner Nickerson who undertook a Herculean, solo quest (why the U.S. Ski Team actively shunned him remains a maddening mystery) and came agonizingly close to achieving his dream…

This is just a preview. Read the entirety in Issue 8 of our digital magazine here

SR Staff

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