2006 Olympics: You're Golden, Dude!

Riding high and grabbing medals, America's snowboarders dominated the Olympic slopes--and outclassed the ski racers. How a rebellious sport finally came of age

Sometimes, it helps to roll into the Olympics utterly oblivious to the Games' gravitas, a weight largely manufactured by sponsors and NBC. Sometimes, it helps to just chill. And have a wicked good time. Case in point: the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team, rad and rippin', which bagged three titles last week in the pristine Alpine town of Bardonecchia, 60 miles northwest of Torino. It was a dominating performance that accounted for nearly half the country's total golden hardware.

Yet the U.S.'s two top women half-pipe snowboarders almost missed their final runs--the most important moment of their athletic lives--because they had crept...

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