Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bode. Toady.

A friend of mine forwarded me a photo from Torino the other day - it was Bode Miller, looking pretty wasted, with some hott chiquita at his side, giving the camera a middle finger salute. Ooooh, Bode! Such the rebel!

I get the whole "New England Hippie" thing. I get his whole "if I wanna get completely tanked before I ski, it's my deal. Live free or die." Whatever. Be that way on your own time and your own dime, bubba.

But if you're not really into the Olympics, if you don't want to try, and you're out of shape?

Stay home, dude.

Drink up, toke up, put your feet up.

And leave the Olympics to someone who's hungry for it.

Bode Miller, as far as I can tell, just didn't want it enough. Hell, he didn't seem to want it at all. He just didn't care. And there was probably another American skier who didn't make the team because Mr. Miller did.

There was an Olympic moment this past week that caught me off guard with its emotion: the final Olympic run of American alpine skier Kristina Koznick. Back in early February, Koznick had torn up one of her knees pretty badly when she skied off an 8-foot ledge on a giant slalom run in Germany. (Yikes!) She really wanted to be at the Olympics, though. Despite being in great pain and hobbling around on crutches, she was determined that she would ski her runs in the slalom and giant slalom competitions. Plus, this girl has gone on her own to train. She is not a member of the US Ski organization; the federation shoved her out when she fell in love with her coach a few years back. Since then, she has trained and financed her competitions on her own. That's one tough cookie.

And there, in Torino, hopping around on crutches, Koznick stayed strong. She did all her practice runs and course checks (something Miller was too damn lazy to get up to do.) For each run, Koznick's coaches would help her off her crutches and onto her skis. This was to be her final Olympic appearance and her last skiing competition before retirement. Entered in the slalom and giant slalom, Koznick got up to the gate for her first of two slalom runs. Slower than mud - in comparison to the top skiers that day - she wended her way to the bottom of the run. Even with her bad leg, she was only 3 seconds off the leader's time. There was no way she would medal.

But still, Koznick had really, really tried. At the bottom of the mountain, her mom was waiting, just cheering and saying, "Honey, it's okay! You did great!" And Anja Paerson, the Swede who would go on to win the gold medal? She immediately ran over to Koznick, hugged her and told her how proud she was of her. Koznick just stood and cried. She would not make her second run, and she would pull out of the giant slalom altogether. Her career was over.

And it all just made me cry. I thought, this is what the Olympics is about. It's about going out and trying your very best, no matter what. And, damned if it doesn't get me kinda teary-eyed thinking about it again right now. Koznick's last run was one of the best Olympic moments for me over the whole two weeks.

Screw Bode Miller and his "whatever, dude" attitude. Let's hear it for Kristina Koznick and all the others who really tried, win or lose.

That's what it's all about. Or, at least, it should be.


Janet Kincaid said...

Brava! I have to say, I found Kozniak, Cohen, and even Michelle Kwan admirable and the only high points in the Olympics. Granted, Kwan's withdrawal had a bit of drama attached to it, but her attitude and perspective were right and that alone gets points in my book.

As for Bodie Miller, what a disgrace. I hope the USOC and the USSSA leave him behind in the future.

Washington Cube said...

I applaud you for saying this. I was disgusted with those kids that goofed off and said, "I wanna have fun." Fine. Do it on your own time and your own dime. Can you imagine the atheletes who would have given anything to be on that team and try to do their best?