The Olympic Trial
by jim moran
The year was 1997; it was going to be 1998 in a few months. The US Ski Team said that for me to go to the Olympics, I needed at least one top three finish, two top fives, or three top tens. I was not going to argue; this was the Olympics we are talking about. I had just gotten third at the Europe Cup, but it didn't count for the Olympic qualifications.
We were in Tigne, France and the World Cup season was just beginning. My first World Cup of the year did not go well. I didn't get my top three. The tour would make the next stop at La Plagne, France. Things went better there, and I placed 5th. I only needed one more top five to qualify.
The tour would make its next stop in Lake Placid, New York. The problem was that they had no snow, and the event would eventually get canceled. The next event was one that I support, called the Gold Cup. The winner would automatically qualify for the Olympics. I liked the idea because who ever could handle the pressure would get to go.
I was ranked second in the U.S., but I flailed at the Gold Cup. A younger kid named Alex Wilson won and got his spot. The coach asked me if he could give away my spot to a younger skier. I agreed and he gave it away. This gave me only one other event to try to qualify through the team's ranking system.
I made the trip up to Blackcomb, British Columbia for my third World Cup. I ended up finishing 9th, and was still the second ranked American behind Jonny Moseley. I had not qualified through the U.S. Ski Team's system, but I missed two World Cup events. I had a meeting with my coaches, and they told me that if I didn't qualify under the Team's criteria, I did not get to go.
I told them that I was still ranked second, even though I missed two events. They didn't care. I told them that I had won two events, took three seconds and a third. I continued that I had competed in three World Championships, and definitely felt like I had a good chance to win for the U.S.
My coaches said that it didn't matter, and that I didn't get to go. My answer was quick and true. "I will see you in court."
I went home and got the best Lawyer I could find. His name was Ross Anderson-now the current Mayor of Salt Lake City. Ross could not believe that the US Ski Team did not want to send their best competitors. We discussed it, and I realized the importance of this case. I gave him all of my information and we filed a complaint.
In the next issue, you will hear all about the US Ski Team and the biggest case ever.