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Bad Crash for U.S. Woman's Downhill Contender

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick. The top U.S. Alpine female skier, Lindsey Kildow, crashed during training today on the Olympic downhill course in the Italian Alps. She was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital. Lindsey Kildow is the favorite, among Americans anyway, in Wednesday's Olympic downhill. Joining us is NPR's Tom Goldman. He's at the Olympics. Tom, what about this crash? What happened?

TOM GOLDMAN reporting:

Lindsey Kildow lost control when one of her skis slid out from under her. This was during a training run today, Alex. And the ski slid out as she started the turn around the gate, and she did the splits at high speed. It was just awful. And a knee hit the ground hard. She then flew through the air and landed on her back and she was writhing in pain, which actually is a good thing because it meant that she was conscious.

And the latest report we have from the medical director of the U.S. Olympic committee is that the x-rays are normal. The decision now is how long she stays in the hospital. And there's also a question about whether she banged her head. And they're going to evaluate her further and monitor her condition.

CHADWICK: So these skiers are out on the course where they will be racing in a couple of days, just training on the course. What are conditions like at the time of the crash?

GOLDMAN: They say very fast. Interestingly, Kildow and several other racers reportedly complained about the course last year after a World Cup event. They said it was too slow. And because of that they added steeper jumps and what's been described as crazy contours, which make it more prone to big crashes. You know, it's kind of be careful what you wish for.

Today, Lindsey Kildow wasn't the only one who went down. Three others wiped out, including the defending Olympic champion, Carole Montillet-Carles, of France. She was carried off the course as well.

CHADWICK: You know, Tom, just watching this on NBC, it doesn't look to me as though there's very much snow there.

GOLDMAN: There's not. It hasn't snowed for weeks, as a matter of fact. And what they're doing is putting man-made snow on these slopes. But also for the downhill it's very icy as well. So we're not certain yet if the problems caused in today's training run by the women skiers is because of the lack of natural snow. Yesterday's men's downhill, there were two crashes, so you know, it wasn't a big problem there.

CHADWICK: How are U.S. Alpine skiers doing overall? People had thought they were going to do very well.

GOLDMAN: You're absolutely right. Big expectations coming into these Olympics. And so far not so good. Yesterday I was up at the men's downhill in Sestriere, up in the Italian Alps, and the best America could do was a fifth place finish for Bode Miller. We all know that name. And a tenth place finish for Daron Rahlves, who actually was a favorite going into the downhill. So you know, getting top ten finishes is awfully good, but it's still not up to the expectations that people had about this program.

The women are very good as well. And you know, the men and women still could do well. Certainly the women will be hurt if Lindsey Kildow is out of the Olympics.

CHADWICK: And how about the snowboarders? They at least, Americans have to be very happy with their performance.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, snowboarding rocks, Alex. I mean, today the American team took four of the top six positions. And then in the men's halfpipe yesterday Shaun White, it appears all of America knows Shaun White now, the Flying Tomato, he won gold medal. And teammate Danny Kass won the silver. And it's interesting about Shaun White. He's a former skateboarder and he made the successful transition to snowboarding. Similar to the success that U.S. speed skaters are having.

Several of the top athletes in that sport made the transition from inline skating, popularly known as rollerblading. So this is good news I suppose for young kids who embrace, you know, so-called alternative sports, skateboarding, rollerblading. They're outcasts in a system that promotes mainstream organized sports, but hey they could be future Olympic champions.

CHADWICK: NPR's Tom Goldman at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Tom, thank you.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Alex. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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