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The Potshot Seen Round the World
December 25, 2006
From the World Cup to the Olympics, sports fans thrilled to a fateful headbutt, a refusal to fade away, a gracious response to adversity, a moving rescue and two courageous returns from injury
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December 25, 2006

The Potshot Seen Round The World

From the World Cup to the Olympics, sports fans thrilled to a fateful headbutt, a refusal to fade away, a gracious response to adversity, a moving rescue and two courageous returns from injury

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The colt would never complete another revolution of a racing oval in competition, and even today he continues to fight for his life. Yet for a little more than two minutes on one of the grandest stages in all of sport, Barbaro was brilliant and memorable. There is joy in embracing what was and not lamenting what might have been. -- Tim Layden

OLYMPICS

Battered but Unbowed

On the third Wednesday in February, Alpine skiers Carole Montillet-Carles of France and Lindsey Kildow of the U.S. prepared to race in the Olympic women's downhill. They rode the chairlift up above the tiny Italian village of San Sicario, and when their bib numbers were called, they skied down as swiftly as possible. Kildow finished eighth, while Montillet-Carles, who won the Olympic downhill at Salt Lake City in 2002, was 28th.

Where was the glory in this? It was in simply embracing the privilege of competition. Sports have long dismissed the value of a game well played or a race well run. A noisy public requires spectacular feats, great fantasy stats and gaudy celebrations.

The glory that winter day was in the face of Montillet-Carles, who two days earlier had crashed spectacularly in a training run. She had bruised her ribs, and her racing goggles had been smashed against her skull, leaving her face grotesquely bruised and swollen, with jagged cuts on her forehead and along the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were pressed nearly shut. "I could not have stayed in my room and watched the race," Montillet-Carles said of the Olympic downhill. "I knew that I would be able to clench my teeth and bear it."

The glory was also in the aching body of Kildow, who had come to Italy with medal dreams but had also fallen disastrously in the same training run as Montillet-Carles. Kildow's back and hip were so tender that it hurt just to walk. However, she said, "I never considered not racing because of the pain."

Downhill racing is dangerous to the point of foolhardiness. Yet these two wounded skiers willed themselves to compete--simply because they belonged. Because they were Olympians. --T.L.

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