Steamboat Springs It’s a rite of passage to win a medal at the Olympic Games, and to do it with a teammate means something even more important.
When Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso went 1-2 at Wednesday’s downhill event, they joined an elite club of American skiers.
The last time Alpine skiers from the same country went 1-2 at an event was in 1984 when Americans Phillip and Steven Mahre went 1-2 in the men’s slalom and Deb Armstrong, now Alpine director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, won the gold in the women’s giant slalom and Christin Cooper won the silver.
“I think it’s a very personal thing,” Armstrong said Thursday from Steamboat. “I don’t know the relationship Lindsey and Julia have. They have something that’s historic. They will have a bond forever.”
That’s been the case for Armstrong and Cooper.
Armstrong said that after the 1984 games it took a couple of years, but today, the two couldn’t be closer.
They share a bond few do. It’s the same one Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga shared after winning slalom silver and bronze at the 1964 Olympics. Americans Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht also could experience it, having won silver and bronze Friday in the super-G. It’s a bond of American pride. A bond all its own.
“I think the Americans tend to do well at big events,” Vonn said after Wednesday’s events. “I’m really psyched. There are two Americans on the podium tonight, and it feels really good.”
It was the podium ceremony Armstrong was most curious about. In 1984 when the national anthem was played and the American flag was raised, Armstrong turned to Cooper and gave her a big hug.
The events at Wednesday’s downhill ceremony were reminiscent of that. Mancuso danced around as Vonn got her medal, before the two shared a big embrace.
“I’m psyched to be on the podium with Lindsey,” Mancuso said. “Our stories are similar. It’s difficult having that pressure on you, and we both have a lot of self-pressure to overcome.”
Mancuso and Armstrong had a bond before these games. In 2006, in Turin, Italy, Mancuso became the first woman to win a giant slalom gold medal since Armstrong. The two briefly exchanged calls and e-mails.
Armstrong said she would get in contact with Vonn and Mancuso because the three and Cooper are all connected now.
“Coop and I today could not be more close,” Armstrong said Thursday. “I called her this morning. She’s up in Vancouver doing commentary. I left her a message saying, ‘Hey Coop, something happened (Wednesday) that is really special between Lindsey and Julia.’ I complimented Coop and told her I loved her.”