Monday, March 20, 2006

last day in Sestriere

Last night the Paralympics ended with the most spectacular closing ceremony imaginable. (Photos will be up soon on my Flickr page.) The athletes paraded through a piazza in Turin, the route lined with tens of thousands of spectators. We sat in the main square in front of the Olympic Medals Stage and watched a two-hour choreographed show that was at times bizarre but consistently engaging. At the end of it all, legendary NYC folk-punk heroine Patti Smith played a one-hour set with her band, rocking out even more than she did 30 years ago.

My races concluded yesterday with the slalom. After the downhill, I knew that slalom would probably be my best chance for another good result. Sure enough, I fell in the super G and skied too conservatively in GS, but I gave it my all in the slalom and finished a respectable 16th. The field is just way too big in slalom and GS for many unheralded skiers like me to get a top-ten finish; one who did was Poland's Jaroslaw Rola. CDY was the top American in eighth. A sizeable mistake in my first run might have cost me a few places, but the top three skiers were just unbeatable — especially German Martin Braxenthaler, who came away from these games with an amazing three gold medals in four events.

[View the official results from the slalom here.]
[View the performance analysis data here.]
[Read about the race and women's champion Stephani Victor here.]

Now I'm off on a whirlwind tour of southern Europe: bus to Zürich tonight, train to Florence tomorrow to meet my friends Kate & Abby, flight to Barcelona on Saturday to meet my friend Brooks, back to Zürich next Tuesday and then home to the States the next day. Whew.

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