Three of my favorite ski and snowboard athletes wonít get to compete in Russia. For years I have followed the rising careers of these charismatic, talented skiers and snowboarder. I have even had the amazing opportunity to meet and chat with my idols. They were my ones to watch, whom I thought would win at Sochi. This is why I donít go to casinos or buy scratch tickets. My Olympic hopefuls, my golden tickets, were scratched from the US Team roster in recent weeks.
There are my two Maine athlete picks, Seth Wescott and Simon Dumont. Being a ski columnist from the Pine Tree ski state, I have covered their rising careers for years. Wescott is the sportsmanliest snowboarder to ever grace the slopes. Itís shocking to me that he is not going to Sochi to defend his two consecutive Gold medals in Olympic snowboard cross Ė a discipline that Wescott lobbied the IOC for inclusion in the Winter Games. He is such a champion of kindness, conviction, caring and obvious skill Ė if you have met him you know of his charisma. Wescott came back from injury last spring, with all the mental and physical fortitude he could muster. But it wasnít enough for this gentleman of snowboarding to perform at XGames or to make the cut for Sochi.
Simon Dumont is another advocate for skiing in that he too petitioned the IOC to allow ski halfpipe and slopestyle into the 2014 Winter Games Ė his efforts were rewarded Ė but he wonít get to be in these first ever Olympic free ski events. I met Simon when he was a teen, stomping huge tricks and soaring 35í above the snow at Sunday River. He is now the senior of his sport, like Wescott, and also not part of the team he helped mentor. Their personalities and their equipment (ski versus snowboard) could not be more different, but their situations have parallels.
Lindsey Vonn was my other great hope. Sheís bold and beautiful, fast but feminine, the most decorated woman in US ski history. You canít help but note that Vonn has brought star power and sexy back to ski racing. After a devastating crash in Austria last February, ironically just days after my knee fracture (we have so much in common itís ridiculous - lol), Vonn came back with so much courage you couldnít help but cheer for her. But another crash in Colorado earlier this season, and an unsuccessful attempt to ski race again, caused Lindsey to see the reality Ė skiing at Sochi went downhill for her. I continue to pick up magazines featuring Lindsey Vonn ads, sheís in her ski speed suit smiling and promoting sponsor cosmetics and pricey jewelry. Guess I wasnít the only one to pick this horse to go all the way to Gold.
Thatís the name of the game I suppose, and why I donít gamble. There are so many factors that must conspire so that you might compete in the Olympics that come around every four years. Best wishes to all the 320 American men and women that worked so hard for their slot, their chance to be at Sochi, to compete and represent their country. Thursday Moguls and Snowboard Slopestyle kick off the games, the night prior to the Opening Ceremonies. Shaun White has pulled out of slopestyle, sighting a wrist injury and the desire to focus on winning his third halfpipe Gold. Go Team USA.