Women’s Super G

What kind of crazy fucked-up world do we live in where Lindsey Vonn breaks the all time World Cup victory record and her boyfriend Tiger Woods not only fails to eclipse Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors, he fails to make the cut in a routine tournament?

These women are in AMAZING shape.

I know no one cares about ski racing, certainly not in America. The grandstand at Beaver Creek was full but there was no throng alongside the fence, it’s almost like the race was hermetically sealed.

Except in Europe. 10 AM in Colorado is prime time in Europe.

And in Europe they care.

And where there’s care, there’s money.

You do it for the love of the sport, you keep doing it for the money.

Which is why Lindsey Vonn wears a Red Bull helmet. They provide a training facility, personnel. But whereas most musical stars are constructs, pretty faces behind a wealth of old men, in skiing you’ve got to do it all yourself.

Lindsey lost.

She was a bit of a poor sport. She blamed the wind. And I was cutting her a break until silver medalist Tina Maze said the wind was part of doing business, you don’t want it, but those are the breaks.

And in her home country of Slovenia, Tina Maze and her movie star good looks make her even more famous than Lindsey is here.

But you should have seen Lindsey race. Got my heart beating and made me a fan in thirty seconds.

That’s right, the course was shortened. Because of the wind.

That’s one thing different in skiing from so many other sports. The weather conditions. Where everybody experiences a different pattern. Where there’s no level playing field. Actually, it’s quite steep.

And in America women’s athletics have come a long way, especially since Title IX. But team sports get all the press, all the accolades, that’s what America has turned into, a nation of how to get along in order to get ahead. Used to be we focused on individual personalities. Now, if you don’t conform, you’re a loser.

And even though there are ski teams, the truth is at the elite level these women are loners, with their own support network and coaches. And when you see them execute you have the utmost respect, because in their finely-toned bodies and skill level you can see all the hard work that preceded this moment.

These women did not have an ounce of body fat. They were nearly as skinny as the TV stars. But the TV stars don’t eat.

These women do.

They’re finely-tuned machines.

But still women. It was interesting to see winner Anna Fenninger discuss a facial blemish with a competitor who came up to congratulate her.

And the truth is I’ve got no interest in being inside professional sports. Because the truth is everyone’s a jock. And no one goes to college. You have to dedicate your body and your mind to victory, or else you can’t win. It’s sports talk all year long, and that’s boring to me.

But unlike most sports, I can still play, I can still participate, I can still ski.

I’ve been on those runs in Beaver Creek. They’re sheer ice. Even in March.

That’s right. They make snow which is like cement and then they inject it with water so it freezes solid. Felice had the most frightening run of her life on the Birds Of Prey.

So when I see these women hurtling themselves down the mountain at high speed on a slope that they fight to get an edge in I have respect, because they’re at the edge of control, fighting for the only thing that means something to them, victory. Which means money.

Amateurism, shamateurism. Not only do you have sponsors, they pay bonuses when you succeed. Like Budweiser giving you a 100k bump when you sell out a stadium. Each and every time.

But back to the race.

Lindsey started off slowly. You can see the split times. She’s way behind, by ski racing standards, multiple tenths of a second.

But then when the hard part is behind her, when the slope flattens out, she begins to gain speed. She rides her edge so quietly. She keeps her body motionless. She’s going faster when everybody else is going slower. It’s thrilling, to see a master at work, and to see her chomp on the time difference when you thought she was done.

And Lindsey was ahead for a minute, but ended up third.

Which ain’t bad, but no one in America has time for losers.

But the truth is Lindsey Vonn is a winner. Not because she’s beautiful, not because she has a famous boyfriend, but because she did all the work.

Some things never change. We live in a country where there’s a focus on chance. The lottery, reality TV, as if everybody deserves a turn atop the podium.

But the truth is those who succeed and sustain put in untold hours of hard work when no one is paying attention.

No one knew who Lindsey Kildow was when she was a teenage member of Ski Club Vail.

And she didn’t win the first time out on the World Cup.

But now she’s racked up 64 wins and owns the all time record, probably for a very long time, if not forever.

It’s like Elton or McCartney, people with so many hits that they’re superstars.

And I don’t want to equate sports with art. They’re so different.

But in both spheres, excellence is key.

And you triumph through hard work.

And there’s nothing I want to do so much as go skiing right now.

I can’t wait to hit the slopes.

Inspired by these women.

But doing it for the fun of it.

P.S. Tomorrow the men hit the slopes. Bode Miller gets back in action. And “back” is the operative word, look at this photo, this is what came out of his back in November:

You Won’t Believe What Surgeons Found in Bode Miller’s Back

P.P.S. Bode may be a pariah in the United States, but he’s a god overseas. Because he’s the quintessential American, the rogue who speaks his mind who can win on any given Sunday, one of the best of the best. That’s right, in the sixties Bode would be lauded for being unique and speaking his mind. But in today’s groupthink America, we excoriate anybody who doesn’t follow the script and live up to our expectations.

2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

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