SESTRIERE, Italy - Bode Miller boasts about what a blast he had during his 0-for-5 Olympics. He insists results don’t matter, having a good time does.
Try telling that to Austria’s Alpine skiers, who racked up a record 14 medals, nearly half the 30 on offer.
Who says you can’t have fun and win, too?
Benjamin Raich can. The stoic Austrian tossed back his head and laughed as he rode on teammates’ shoulders after winning his second gold medal.
Another Austrian, Michaela Dorfmeister, strummed an air guitar and kissed the podium’s top step to celebrate one of her two golds. Winning in the Olympics was the goal that kept her from retiring — and now she will.
Anja Paerson of Sweden bellyflopped and slid headfirst in the snow after capping her three-medal showing by finally adding a gold to her otherwise complete resume. Janica Kostelic of Croatia shed tears when her older brother Ivica won a silver — drawing as much joy from that as from her own gold and silver, which at just 24 made her the most decorated female Alpine skier in Olympic history.
Only two Americans, both 21 and without a major victory, managed to celebrate: Ted Ligety, tackled by two teammates after his surprise gold in the men’s combined event, and Julia Mancuso, who kissed her ski then donned a costume jewelry tiara for the medal ceremony after winning the women’s giant slalom.
Living it up AFTER a win. Now there’s a novel idea.
Ligety was asked what he would have thought if someone told him before the Turin Games that he’d end up the only U.S. man with a medal.
“I probably would have laughed. I mean, I definitely would have thought Bode or Daron would have produced a medal,” Ligety said. “It’s just kind of bad luck more than anything. You can’t expect to produce on any given day.”
The Austrians managed to do just that, claiming at least one medal in nine of the 10 races in the Italian Alps. They even pulled off a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s slalom Saturday night, only the fifth medal sweep in 122 Alpine events in the history of Winter Olympics.
In the end, all that pre-Olympics talk about a rivalry between the Americans and Austrians seems downright silly.
The Americans arrived with the motto. The Austrians left with the medals.
“You say, 'What could we have done? Could we have had another day of practice? Could we have trained differently? Prepared differently?' I’m going to say, 'No,'’ U.S. men’s coach Phil McNichol said. “We were prepared. We just didn’t get it done when it really mattered.”