From the Top

It is easy-way too easy, in fact-to focus only on the negative aspects of today's Olympic Games: The site selection bribery scandals; the corporate indulgences; the political backscratching; the way money and power seem to rule everything in this arguably out-of-control, five-ring circus. And as a diehard, year-round U.S. ski racing fan, I've long been frustrated with how the results of Olympic races are over-hyped and over-rated-simply because they are the only ski events watched by the general public. Picabo Street accomplished much more athletically speaking by winning nine World Cup downhill races and collecting season titles in 1995 and 1996 than by earning Olympic silver in 1994 or Olympic gold in 1998. And she'd be the first to tell you that.

Despite those misgivings, in this year of all years I'm thrilled to see the 2002 Olympics on home snow-and pumped about the bright prospects for the U.S. Ski Team. These skiers toil in obscurity through most of their careers, and I wish them the best of luck in capitalizing on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm also proud of all the hard work that has gone into hosting the Games behind the scenes, work most people will never see. And I look forward to watching Utah prove itself as a world-class ski region while putting on the greatest show on earth.

Salt Lake 2002 is the first Winter Games on U.S. snow in a generation, so I refuse to apologize for my unabashed "homer" attitude. This made-in-the-USA pride is reflected throughout this Olympic special issue, in which we advance the improbable-but not impossible-scenario in which U.S. skiers and riders could win 15 medals, five more than the team's own brash prediction (see "Go USA," to your right). We also take a close-up tour of the Snowbasin men's downhill course (see Grizzly's Hidden Bite), which will provide the most exciting action of the Games. And the issue includes a compelling look at what could happen if the Olympic gods held a downhill-and invited history's best racers to compete head-to-head (see Downhill of the Gods).

A monthly magazine such as SKI, with its two-month lead times, usually previews the Olympic Games and steps out of the way. But with the launch of our popular website, skimag.com, we'll be reporting U.S. Ski Team and World Cup news daily as we ramp up for the Games. And we'll be on-site in Salt Lake to produce insights and commentary that you won't find anywhere else. We even promise to return to our normal objectivity after Feb. 24. Until then, Go USA!