Sport: Trial by Snow

The spectators sprawled on gaudy blankets at the bottom of the runs, or strapped on skis and slogged up through the slopes for a closehand look at the world's best skiers. Germans bellowed at each other across the turns; Italians shouted "Avanti!" as their blue-clad skiers hurtled past.

But to the competitors at California's Squaw Valley, the eighth Winter Olympics was an agonizing and lonely trial. Teammates drilled each other by the hour on the turns and perils of every run, tried to relax by taking long walks or playing table tennis. Before their runs, some skiers even retched in the snow.

On...

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