FILE UNDER -- Alpine

What it was like to be there

What it was like to be there{mosimage}BORMIO For the United States it was the greatest moment in the nation’s alpine competition history.

Watching Bode Miller slash, bounce and shred the grueling Stelvio piste and then anxiously watching while his brilliantly talented teammate, Daron Rahlves, mounted the only serious threat to his golden run was one of those rare moments in sports when you can’t believe what is unfolding before your eyes.

With stomach was churning and the hands shaking, there was the agonizing clock watching when Austrian after great Austrian skated out of the start house intent on displacing Miller and Rahlves.

After the World Cup’s number one downhiller, the leggy Michael Walchhofer, failed to catch the Yanks, one could begin to believe gold, silver just might happen. Still there were three more Austrians in the start house, but with each the seconds spun past the times of Miller and Rahlves.

As the last serious challenge failed, assuring gold and silver there was a combination of joy and relief. One was mentally tired and emotionally exhausted but there the names were, still on top of the scoreboard list.

Over the years there have been great moments in men’s alpine skiing starting with the improbable medal runs of Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga in the 1964 winter games. Phil and Steve Mahre produced thrills along will the bodacious Bill Johnson in Sarajevo in 1984. Doug Lewis stunned the Europeans here twenty years ago, capturing bronze.

There were lots dry years when medal performances were but a distant, fuzzy memory. The team went through period of building and rebuilding. It was an era of frustration on frustration.

So here we are in 2005 basking in light of an almost undreamed of triumph. It was the kind of day you fantasized about when you were a little kid, when everything goes according just like you wanted to and you win which vicariously Miller and Rahlves arranged to come to pass today.

Bode and Daron were not alone in this one. Many ingredients brought on today’s success. Skiing may be individual sport but the amount of concerted teamwork on the part of coaches, technicians, support staff which must occur to make this happen has to be seen to comprehend. An amazing amount of pieces and people have to come together achieve a result of this magnitude and then only after years of molding a disparate collection of talent need to achieve such an outcome.

For this aficionado this February 2005 Saturday in Bormio will always be savored, remembered and, well, just enjoyed. -G. B. Jr.

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