Devon O’Neil: American skiers " the pending history no one is talking about | SkyHiNews.com

Devon O’Neil: American skiers " the pending history no one is talking about

Like a long-simmering stew finally bubbling to the surface of the crock, the potentially historic World Cup alpine season that nobody in America knows about is three weeks away from making some serious noise.

That’s because both of the current World Cup overall leaders filet their lines in the United States speed suit. Bode Miller, on the verge of a feat no one could have predicted, leads the men’s Cup standings by 45 points over Austrian Benny Raich, 1,103-1,058.

Lindsey Vonn tops the women’s standings in an eerily similar race, by 54 points over Nicole Hosp, another Austrian, 1,103-1,049.

If you’re a fan of ski racing, it’s a terrific time of year. The men have nine races left, the women eight, all culminating in finals week March 10-16 in Bormio, Italy.

Judging by each racer’s specialties, Miller, a downhill specialist, is the favorite to hold off Raich, a tech wiz, because the men will run three downhills and only two of each of the other disciplines. Miller is ranked second in DH to Raich’s 33rd, a huge advantage in a potentially deal-clinching extra race.

It’s a similar scenario for Vonn, the season DH champ, against the technical carver Hosp, who is ranked 39 places higher than Vonn in slalom.

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Should both U.S. skiers hold on to win their respective overall titles, it would be the first time that has happened in 25 years. It would also mark an improbable return to the pedestal of ski racing for Miller, and would make Vonn just the second American woman to win an overall title, following Tamara McKinney. …

It’s six weeks before baseball’s Opening Day, and Barry Bonds ” the all-time home run leader, and arguably still the most feared hitter in the game ” remains unsigned. He’s working out at some random gym in L.A. hoping a big-league club, any club at this point, will take a chance on him.

Aside from that being fascinating for some reason, it begs a simple question: If he never gets signed, will there ever have been a more perfect ending to a sports story? …

In my old post as sports editor of the Summit Daily News, I used to dread the challenge of keeping fresh the headlines we ran to summarize the fortunes of consistently horrible teams. There are only so many ways you can relate, after all, that it is just not this squad’s year.

So I can imagine what it’s been like lately for golf editors around the world, trying to brainstorm new ways to convey how much better Tiger Woods is than every other golfer who was ever called “gifted.” I don’t care if it’s accurate every time ” “Total Domination” still gets old. …

I cannot remember a more exciting low-scoring basketball game than the No. 1 vs. No. 2 thriller between Memphis and Tennessee on Saturday night. It only ended 66-62 (Vols), but it played like a 150-149 shootout from the ’80s. …

Our Headline of the Week takes us west, where on Saturday night Los Angeles’ two NBA teams met in the building they share, the Staples Center. Sometimes, as the L.A. Times proved, the blunt approach to describing an 18-point win is janitorial: “Lakers mop floor with Clippers” …

There’s been talk lately, loose talk, about a one-for-one trade between the American League and the National League. The AL would send the Royals to the NL for the Brewers ” seriously, I’m not making this up.

The reason I bring it up, though, is not because it would have any true effect on the national pastime. Precisely the opposite: It’s weird that such a rare move in such a major sport would matter to so few. …

In parting, one of the classic guys behind the scenes of all time, Paul Robbins, died Sunday at 68. Robbins, a journalist and the lead writer for the U.S. Ski Team, spent the last 30 years knowing more about ski racing than anyone else in the country. He made a lot of days, too.

” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at devononeil@hotmail.com.

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