John F. Russell: Lalive weighs her options

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John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

— Caroline Lalive doesn't want to sound bitter. She doesn't want to be angry, and she doesn't want to feel cheated.

But nobody would blame the Alpine skier for having a chip on her shoulder. She has spent 12 years with the U.S. Ski Team and more than six months rehabilitating her left knee. But just days before she was scheduled to attend a U.S. Ski Team training camp this spring, she learned that she had been dropped from the team. When the bids came out in May, her name was not on the list.

She's the first to admit that her career has been filled with ups and downs, thrilling success and crushing defeat and injuries that would drive a rodeo cowboy to retirement. But when she left skiing two years ago, she was ranked in the top 10, and she still is in the top 30 in the world.

But she has battled a series of bad breaks that started in the days leading up to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. She suffered a knee injury in a training crash that ended her season. She spent more than a year working to get back, but suffered another serious injury during a training run in Austria in October 2007. This time, it was her left knee.

But these days, it isn't an injury standing in her way - it's a ringing phone.

"They said that I had been injured too much," Lalive said.

They said they didn't want Lalive to get hurt anymore, and that maybe she should think about retiring. The news was devastating shock to Lalive, who just started free skiing in March. The news came as she was preparing to leave for a skiing camp.

"I didn't really expect it," Lalive said. "The way they handled it was pretty unprofessionally."

But Lalive says she isn't ready to retire.

She wasn't mad or bitter. But as an American, I feel cheated.

I'm not saying that the U.S. Ski Team should keep veteran skiers based on their past success. It's a competitive sport of skiing, and cuts are just a part of the game.

But it just doesn't seem fair that Lalive, 28, will not be given the chance to prove herself. It seems, well, un-American.

This isn't the first time the Ski Team has made unpopular decisions or dropped veteran skiers to make room on the team or in their budget. This time, five skiers got the boot as the team prepares for the 2008-09 season, including veterans Libby Ludlow (who retired), Dane Spencer (returning from an injury), Bryon Friedman, Erik Schlopy and Jake Zamansky. The athletes have taken notice. Lalive said the men's team started a successful golf and skiing fundraiser last year to support non-funded athletes, and despite losing equipment sponsors, coaching and the help of technicians, Lalive still is hoping to find support for a return to skiing. After watching Lalive ride the ups and downs of ski racing, I wouldn't expect anything less from her.

She's a true champion.

Comments

bloggyblog 6 years, 6 months ago

nice story john. blog thinks this was a very bad decision by the U.S. team. caroline's proven herself to be a great champion and a fighter to come back from such devastating injuries. now she's got one more big hill to climb. good luck to her and don't give up!!

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Tall_Poppy 6 years, 6 months ago

Caroline, you have set the standard for strength, fortitude and grace. You are a champion in every sense of the word. I am stunned that the team appears to have quit on you, when you have never quit on the team, or on yourself--especially when the going got tough. And John, thanks for the story.

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beentheredonethat 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey John, this article is a commentary and not a news report. how about seeking out the position of the U.S. Ski Team, by contacting their staff. until you begin to get both sides of the story, it remains just that, a story. it would be helpful to the readership to get more factual reporting instead of, in this case, just your personal opinion. thank you.

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herman 6 years, 6 months ago

Caroline is a rarety in sports. Her attitude and committment is matched by none. She has survived far worse and now it time to show the ski team their mistake by not inviting her back. By the way John Russell good to see an article not about your lame athletic life.

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rsssco 6 years, 6 months ago

beenthereneverdidanything: You're a regular rocket scientist.
John's Sunday piece are indeed commentaries--not news. That's why his name is listed before the title of the commentary and appears in the commentary portion of this web site and the paper. Therefore, it is proper and appropriate that this is John's personal opinion. And after the great work, reporting and writing he's provided this community for almost 2 decades he's certainly earned the right to share his opinions. You may now return to being the know-nothing knucklehead you've demonstrated the capacity for.

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Brent Boyer 6 years, 6 months ago

beentheredonethat: This article is John's weekly sports column. It appears every week on the front page of the Sunday Pilot & Today sports section. As with most newspaper columns, it is commentary and opinion on a subject of the writer's choosing. The easiest way to distinguish between news stories and columns on our Web edition is by the headline. We post all columns and opinion pieces so they include the author's name followed by a colon and the title of the piece. By doing so, we are indicating that this piece and the views expressed within it are the opinion of the author.

Thanks for reading,

Brent Boyer Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today

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rsssco 6 years, 6 months ago

herman: Where can we read your work--whether about your lame athletic life or--more likely--your lame life period?

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

The U. S. Ski Team should be concerned with fielding the most competitive group of skiers, and nothing else.

The real lesson here for Steamboat youth is that fame is fleeting, only a few make it to the top, and there's always somebody new coming up to take your place. If you put youself in a place where other people can decide your fate, you need to be prepared for what can happen. Plan "B" needs to get some attention along the way also.

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dogd 6 years, 6 months ago

Caroline: You can see right here an excellent contrast between the dreamless and bitter fools who never reached for the top and the beautiful strong passion which has fueled your courage.

You have earned a place at the highest level , and I hope that resources can be found to give your dream a new chance. If this is still the place that I think it is, you'll get your chance.

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dogd 6 years, 6 months ago

ID:
The bottom line: You have always been a terrible fit for this place. Why don't you take your endless didactic BS someplace else. You are obviously not wise, or would have moved on with your life. Please do not advise our youth- your version of life is obviously unsatisfactory in too many ways. Learn . THEN teach.

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rsssco 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey id--do you think there is some possibility that when we are discovered by other civilizations, one of them may decide to harvest us like shrimp? Is it safe to stand on the tail of a helipcopter?

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BoatMaster 6 years, 6 months ago

idO4sp

Sorry your comment angered a few, but you are correct.

Yes it is a shame when someone has dedicated their life to something and then is goes away so fast. But that is what is called "life".

Cheers to Caroline for her efforts.

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dogd 6 years, 6 months ago

Looks like the loser's bracket in this town is growing by leaps and bounds.

Again "other people can decide your fate" only when it's all a done deal. This isn't. There is clearly a way to go, given the particulars. Let 'em run Caroline.

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dogd 6 years, 6 months ago

To rsssco and "boatmaster" : the problem with your hero, ID, is that- as Edward R Murrow used to say ... " anybody who isn't a little confused obviously doesn't understand the situation".

Your guy ID just "understands" a few too many situations. fools are like that

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rsssco 6 years, 6 months ago

dogd--id ain't no hero of mine. Just the opposite. Can't wait till he moves back to Mississippi.

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

Carolyn deserves all the credit possible for a great skiing career.

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portagetheyampa 6 years, 6 months ago

The way Caroline has been treated by the US Ski Team is just what they have always done, care more about the organization than the skiiers. For years the Ski Team has not shown athletes any respect or consideration. The Team does not support education, professional psychological assistance, does not have the decency to communicate directly with the athletes, ignores the parents of the athletes and the SKi Team just shows blatant disregarding for anything other than winning.

Caroline is a great athlete and she can be proud of her accomplishments!

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