Most People who saw the footage of American all-everything skier Lindsey Vonn somersaulting over the snow on an Austrian mountain this week, shredding her knee ligaments and breaking her tibia in the process, figured they had just seen the end of the U.S. Olympic team's chances at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Put away the star-spangled cowbells. Leave Old Glory at the bottom of the mountain. Cue up your favorite recording of Mozart's "Requiem."
But here's where the story takes an unexpected turn: Over the last six years, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association—the engine that increasingly drives the medal hopes for the entire U.S. Olympic team—has done something extraordinary. Instead of contenting itself with a couple of quirky stars who might get hot at the Olympics, the federation has invested serious money—at least $1 million a year—to build a deep bench.