Monday, November 24, 2008
Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Luke here.
Bo Randolph is one tough guy to root against.
He is your average, everyday guy who works for a living, struggles to make ends meet and just happens to be a phenomenal freestyle moguls skier.
He gets as nervous as can be before competitions - even struggling to brush his teeth or eat anything the day of races.
That all makes Randolph likeable, but it's his honesty that makes him genuine.
About this time last year, Randolph was at the U.S. Selections in Winter Park, where he suffered an injury that could have derailed his promising career.
Randolph, 20, broke his normal pair of skis the week before that competition. But because he didn't have the money to get some new ones in time for the event, Randolph dusted off a four-year-old pair he thought could make it through.
After a solid first run, Randolph was putting down the best run of his life. The four-year-old bindings on his four-year-old skis, however, couldn't put up with the intensity of the run.
Traveling at 40 mph, the binding snapped.
Randolph's toes violently crashed into a mogul, breaking his right ankle. His left ankle was severely sprained.
Assuming he completes that run and skis "just OK" the following day, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Freestyle Director Erik Skinner said, there is a pretty good chance Randolph is not trying to fight his way back on the radar this season, but rather, already is on the U.S. Ski Team.
"If he wouldn't have fallen," Skinner said, "he would have gotten a suit."
You talk to Randolph now, and he doesn't hold anything back. He is not like a lot of athletes that would have said they're not nervous for their first time back. He didn't pretend the injury won't be on his mind.
Instead, Randolph, who will open the season on the same course where he was injured Dec. 5 and 6 last year, is being honest with himself.
He is close to 100 percent, but he admits he's holding something back. He's not going all out. It's not because he doesn't want to - it's because, at this point, he can't.
But even Skinner and Randolph know that one run might be all it takes. That might be all it takes to get Randolph back into the zone. So, in two weeks, when Randolph is in the starting gates for the first time in a year, staring at the same course that took a season and a potential "suit" on the U.S. Team away from him, what will be going through his head?
"I think it's going to bring me back to last year," Randolph said before pausing and letting out a little smile. "I think that can be a good thing. It's a big event. It puts me in a mood where I know I need to fight."