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Courageous Lindsey Kildow returns with a flourish
Lindsey Kildow
American Lindsey Kildow
There wasn't a medal waiting for American ski racer Lindsey Kildow when her run in the women's downhill was completed Wednesday afternoon, but it must have been a satisfying moment nonetheless.

Just two days before, on the same course, Kildow didn't finish the run because of a nasty fall in training. She made it down the mountain, but on a sled to a waiting helicopter for a trip to the hospital.

This time, she hit the finish line upright and with a rush, tying for eighth place -- 1.29 seconds behind winner Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria.

"I guess I thought that the result would have been a lot better, but I'm just happy to have raced," Kildow said afterward. "I think I did pretty well in the middle part of the course, but when I got to the part where I crashed I was a little nervous."

She should have been.

On Monday, Kildow caught an edge heading into a jump, did a 180-spin and landed with her legs split apart. She then fell hard on her hip and slid into the protective netting.

Tests revealed nothing worse than a severely bruised hip. She was sore, but was also up and walking around later that afternoon. Doctors kept her overnight for observation and she left the hospital on Tuesday.

Now the only question was whether she would take her run in the downhill. If past history was taken into account, it should have been an obvious answer.

Kildow's career has featured a number of injuries since she burst onto the ski scene with a surprising sixth-place finish in the combined event at the 2002 Olympics.

In December 2002, in her first downhill race of the year at Lake Louise in Canada, she caught a tip at 60 miles per hour and went through three sets of netting. After being airlifted to a hospital, she was treated for ligament damage in her left hip and lower back.

A strained left hip in a crash forced her to miss four months during the 2003-04 season.

Injuries are nothing new for the resident of Hebert, Utah, so being able to walk a few hours after Monday's tumble should have been a sign that this problem wasn't going to stop her from competing on Wednesday.

Kildow, who entered the Olympics second in the World Cup downhill standings, was 31st out of the gate Wednesday afternoon, just beyond the usual top 30 competitors that are expected to vie for medal contention. She was in that position only because she didn't make a training run on Tuesday.

The time to beat for a medal was already on the board, but she was unable to top it.

Nobody really expected Kildow to medal, nobody but herself.

"I thought I had it in me," she said after the run. "I was pretty nervous at the start. I was OK in the warmup, but I have a lot of pain in my back. My left butt cheek doesn't seem to work."

The guess here is that butt cheeks are important in competitive skiing. If hers had worked, a medal might have been within reach. After all, she was just 65/100ths of a second behind bronze-medal winner Anja Paerson of Sweden.

"I just wanted to know I could have done it," Kildow added.

There are still four events left for women's alpine skiing and Kildow is slated to start in each.

"I'm playing it by ear," she added about how many races she will run in Torino, "but I'm definitely in the super-G."

The super-G is scheduled for Sunday, but she still could run in the women's combined on Friday.

Tom Kelly of the USOC said that decision will not be made until at least Thursday.

We'll all be waiting. See you on Friday.

- Jim Gillis, TSN Managing Editor

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