Monday, February 13, 2006

Men's downhill on the inside

The men's downhill was a strange race. When Michael Walchofer's mistake ridden run held up for first place for 20 racers everyone was surprised, and when Frenchman Antoine Deneriaz came down and beat him the crowd had nearly been lulled to sleep. It was only halfway down that people started to process that he might come through in the lead.
For me, it was an even stranger experience. In the morning I headed off to the venue press center early to get a workspace before the throngs of journalists made thier way up from Torino. After working inside for a while, I went out to the finish to make sure I had a good viewing position along with a bunch of other writers. We stood there for an hour before the race began. During that time we threw out predictions about who would win, and who should win and what the hill was like and who it favored. Some of the comments were illuminating and other flat out silly. I was surprised to learn how little some knew about ski racing.
The core group of ski writers definately stood out from the ones who normally cover football or basketball.
It made me realize that a lot of what has been written about Bode Miller came from journalists who understand little. In fact, some are even looking for a hostile angle, reading into things with complete bias. When Bode came through the finish in fourth place he looked into the camera and threw up his hands. A journalist beside me said, "Did you see that? I think he just pushed away the camera!"
I was taken aback as that was so clearly not what happened.
Everyone began postulating about how upset the Americans must be; they probably were dissapointed. Two were clear medal contenders and they did not perform. But it turns out both Bode and Daron were fairly happy with their runs. They said they wouldn't have done much different. Bode lost his edge in the last three turns after a great run, and Daron had a small mistake on top but otherwise thought he had a solid run.
When the two racers made their way toward us for comments everyone began pushing and shoving their voice recorders within range. It was almost embarassing.
After a while I broke away and hopped on the bus back up to Sestriere, grabbed my camera and went out to take some more photos. The town was crowded with people and lively. Buses lined the roads as people began to make their way back to the city and off to the next event.

5 Comments:

Blogger Biddle said...

Hey, great stuff. We're really enjoying it. Awesome story about your arrival in Torino, getting to the Opening Ceremonies, finding a room etc... and loved the commentary about the "ski racing" press...

1:54 PM  
Blogger Scott Monroe said...

Awesome job Marina. Love the pictures, too! — Scott

2:24 PM  
Blogger Marina Knight said...

Nice!

2:49 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Marina,
It has been so much fun following you through your journey's and experiences--I really feel like I am seeing what you are. Fantastic job and I look forward to more!

2:51 PM  
Blogger nifer said...

Hmm, this means that some of the television announcers might not know too much about racing either....

12:27 PM  

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