VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There are all kinds of amazing and wonderful athletes here, and I am especially dazzled by all those men and women who launch themselves skyward, proceed to do all manner of flipping, spinning and twisting, and then land adroitly on a pair of skis or a snowboard.
But when it comes to sheer fitness, and I am a thousand percent sure all the other athletes would agree, the people who take the prize are the cross-country skiers. Therefore, the two athletes who deserve our greatest respect of all at these Winter Games are Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk, who won today's Ladies' 30 K race in a desperate finish-line lunge to defeat Norway's Marit Bjoergen, and the man who wins the grandaddy of them all, Sunday's 50K extravaganza.
There is a reason why the Marathon is the tradition final event of the Summer Games. And there is a similar reason why the 50K is the final individual event at the Winter Games. But there is also a difference. As my colleague Scott Thurston says, "The 50K makes the Marathon look like the Jingle Bell Run."
Nasty? If turning in to the Alpine skiing super-G to watch apparently reformed bad boy Bode Miller go for his second medal of the Vancouver Games doesn't entice you, how about this from Ted Ligety via Twitter on Wednesday: "Just finished freeskiing the super G hill. It's in horrible condition. It's gonna be a nasty race." Uh-oh. 2:30 p.m.
And don't forget . . . Actually, it's a relatively light day -- there are just a couple of other medal events: The women's cross-country 15k pursuit (4 p.m.) and the men's and women's skeleton (6.45 p.m.).