Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 1:37AM; Updated: Wednesday February 22, 2006 11:21AM
Janica Kostelic of Croatia will win two more medals in Alpine skiing, giving her four for these Games and eight -- including five golds -- for her career. The debate will begin over whether, beyond being the most decorated female skier in Olympic history, she is also the best woman skier ever.
Texas will finish 17th in the medal count, just ahead of Estonia, thanks to three medals from Hedrick and one from bobsledder Todd Hays.
Two best friends in Detroit, both 11-year-old African-American girls, will talk excitedly to each other about the Olympic speedskater who caught their eye (and made their hearts race), Shani Davis, and decide to trade in their in-line skates for bladed ones. Eight years hence, with mentoring from Davis, they will become stars of the long-track competition at the 2014 Winter Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan -- the surprise winner of the Olympic host rights in a 2007 IOC vote. The two friends will share the Feb. 28, 2014, cover of Sports Illustrated under the billing ALMATY POWER.
Two best friends in Eagle River, Alaska, both seven-year-old boys, will talk excitedly to each other about the performances of U.S. Olympians Shaun White and Seth Wescott and will trade in their Alpine skis for snowboards. They will go on to become gold medalists in the half-pipe and snowboardcross at the 2018 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, which will reprise its successful hosting of the 1968 Olympics.
The bitter rivalry between speedskaters Davis and Hedrick will disappear from the spotlight -- temporarily. The feud will seem to be over forever when Hedrick announces that he is retiring to pursue an acting career, but after landing only two-bit parts in made-for-TV flicks, Hedrick will decide to come back. The rivalry with Davis will fire up anew, creating the first great American storyline of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
A generation of other prominent U.S. Olympians will say goodbye to the Games. Among them will be Alpine skiers Miller and Daron Rahlves, speedskaters Chris Witty and Derek Parra and Nordic event veterans Jay Hakkinen and Todd Lodwick. In 2009, however, Miller, who by then will be 32 and running an organic vegetable farm in New Hampshire, will emulate Hedrick and shock everyone by announcing his return to competition. He will say that he has grown bored with his life and wants to take another shot at the Olympic gold medal that always eluded him -- thus providing the second great American storyline of the 2010 Olympics.
Even as Italian fans celebrate the victories of Enrico Fabris in the 1,500-meter long-track event and Giorgio Rocca in the men's slalom, the IOC leadership will confer secretly and decide that in the selection of future host cities, the degree of local enthusiasm for the Games must be a much larger factor. Never again after Turin, they vow, will Winter Olympics go to a city that cares little about winter sports.
At the closing ceremonies, IOC president Jacques Rogge will praise the 17 days in Turin for their exciting moments and friendly volunteers but not declare these Games "the best Olympics ever." No one will argue with him about it.