February 16, 2006
SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP by Jean-Luc Courthial)—Her body bandaged, her face bruised and reddened, Carole Montillet-Carles was determined not to relinquish her title without a struggle. The 2002 Olympic downhill champion from France had crashed at 60 mph on a training run a few days earlier, but she found the strength to ski Wednesday _ albeit with eyes so badly swollen that she used bandages to keep them open.
"I couldn't have stayed in my room and watched it on the television, said Montillet-Carles, whose face still showed the outline of her goggles that slammed into the skin during the crash.
This was no dream return to the slopes, but she was in the race, finishing 28th.
"Carole, we love you, one supporter cried from the ski lift.
"Have you seen my face? she replied. "It's lucky I'm already married.
She was just one of several athletes to crash in Monday's training run, including American Lindsey Kildow, who spent the night in a Turin hospital and returned to Wednesday's race to place eighth.
The 32-year-old Montillet-Carles plans to race on Sunday in the super-G and hasn't lost her will to win at her final Olympics.
"I will be going out for a medal. I think I can be competitive if I prepare well. ... I want my revenge in the super-G.
Xavier Fournier-Bidoz, the downhill trainer for the French team, saluted Montillet-Carles' courage.
"She didn't want to abandon her title without having defended it, Fournier-Bidoz said. "Given the visibility and her physical state, it was courageous on her part.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press