|ESPN.com: Alpine Skiing||[Print without images]|
|Lindsey Kildow could race again in Sunday's super-G event.|
She launched herself over the same jump that nearly crippled her, and landed sweetly. Vonn stared bullets at the scoreboard. He wanted more than just a finish, and he knew she did too. She crossed. He clapped. There were no tears. "I'm happy she made it down," he said. He didn't look all that happy. Neither did she. Then, he thought about it some more. "I thought I'd be in the U.S. making surgery arrangements right now," Vonn said. "Incredible." Kildow finished the race in 1:57:78. And no one cares, except for maybe Kildow herself. How many points did Willis Reed score in his epic playoff performance for the Knicks? Anyone remember? So, she didn't have the perfect tuck. So, she looked tentative. So, she finished eighth. Whatever. Let the others in Torino win the medals, stand on the podium, get a spot next to Leno. Kildow gets much more, because she gave much more. She gave to us. We've all hurtled through life at full speed, then suddenly, we're upside down and we land hard and we feel deep pain and we don't know when we'll get back to the familiar places we blew past before. But we can't look to the pro athlete much anymore for inspiration. The regular fan can't shell out $4 million for a shiny bauble when he lets down his spouse, or call a greasy agent to tell his boss "Next Question!" The regular fan can rely only on friends and family and himself. The regular fan can only crawl out of bed and get back to work, fighting the arms that grab us and hold us back, ignoring all the reasons to crumble. And for that, the regular fan has Lindsey Kildow, and the feeling of watching her do what we all imagine ourselves doing in such a moment of terror and agony. "I am in awe of her," said her mom, Linda. And she started to well up, and she apologized, and she took no more questions, and she went quiet. Enough said. We're in awe, too, of the speed and the precision and talent and grace. But more of the vision of her running for the door, dropping out of the chute, leaning on her makeshift crutches, hobbling away, planning her return. "I wanted to do it even if I wasn't going to do well," Kildow said. "I just had to try. It's the Olympics. You work so hard to be here. You can't just give up." ESPN.com contributor Carrie Sheinberg contributed to this story. Eric Adelson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.