- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"Jean is so great," says Starr Walton, a teammate, reflecting the opinion of all. "She's so good-natured and even-tempered all the time. And when she's on her skis, nobody in the whole world can beat her in any event."
"She laughs and jokes a lot, but she's tough. The tougher the race, the tougher she'll get," Beattie says. "Everyone in Innsbruck will be talking about her, but she won't feel the pressure. She goes all out, anyhow, and her natural pride makes every race a big one."
The outlook was hardly as encouraging for the American men, although Beattie was, before the Lauberhorn races, swollen with equal pride over their accomplishments. "We'd done a lot of talking before we came over," he said. "We'd complained about the seedings for Innsbruck (SI, Dec. 16) and insisted our level of skiing was as good as any."
At the beginning of the European swing it seemed at least as good. At Val d'Is�re, against the French and Swiss, Buddy Werner won the slalom and Jimmy Heuga was fourth in the giant. After Christmas the men moved to Hindelang, Germany for the first meeting with Austrians—and Beattie found himself once again in the thick of the seeding squabble: the U.S. starting positions were no better at Hindelang than those they had been given for Innsbruck. For example, Billy Kidd, one of the finest young racers anywhere, was sent off 47th in the slalom. "Nationalism has reared its ugly head over here," snapped Beattie.
Then the racers themselves made the most effective comment. Kidd placed third in the slalom behind Fran�ois Bonlieu of France and Pepi Stiegler of Austria, with Ferries fifth. The other good young American, Jimmy Heuga, was third in the giant slalom, won by Edmund Bruggmann of Switzerland.
At last, Europe's near-sighted ski officials began to get the message, and they proceeded to do something about it. This past weekend, before a pair of giant slaloms and one slalom held on the same chopped-up Eiger course the women had used earlier in the week, Robert Faure, chairman of the international seeding committee, wrote a letter suggesting that several Americans be added to the first flight of starters. Armed with this letter and his own loud voice ("I keep hollering at the Austrians"), Beattie got Werner, Heuga and Kidd into the top group for the first of two giant slalom races. Kidd finished fifth (the winner was Austria's Egon Zimmermann), and might have done better on the fog-shrouded course but for one troublesome gate where he turned too wide. Werner, who started before Kidd and tied Heuga for seventh, tried to warn his teammates about the gate with a call over a walkie-talkie. But the call got through after Kidd had taken off; unwarned, he lost a couple of seconds on the way down.
The next day the entire American team faltered and fell (the best finish was Bill Marolt's dreadful 30th). The Austrians, again led by Egon Zimmermann, whose dominance of the pre-Olympic tune-ups has become a source of some awe to his rivals, took three of the top four places. The results of the slalom were just as disastrous for the U.S., but even more discouraging. Werner made a beautiful first run, and had the race won until he took one of his celebrated pratfalls only eight gates from the finish. "We'd been walking on air. It was time for a fall, I guess," said a gloomy Beattie afterward. "It's going to be tough now to get three guys in the top seed in the Olympics. We've got to ski better and I've got to keep hollering."